I know that we promised not to cover the blow-by-blow of the lockout, but so much has happened over the past few days, it seemed necessary to at least comment on some of the news. If you missed what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m not going to re-hash it here, read the recap first.
But yesterday, it seemed that all was lost. Any progress made last night was “lost,” as the players and owners went their separate ways with no deal and renewed animosity. All this seemed to happen after a series of events that just left the fans baffled.
News spread that the owners made an offer to the players, and that the players countered based off the owners proposal. That’s good, as they are negotiating off the same principles. The hysteria began when –immediately following the NHLPA offer to the owners– Donald Fehr exclaimed to the press that they were close to a deal, and that he felt it would be done soon.
Of course, that was not the case. Gary Bettman and company left a voicemail for Donald Fehr, rejecting the offer flat-out. No re-negotiations and no talks would resume. Fehr held a press conference explaining the rejection, and that he was disappointed. Soon after, Bettman –who was angrier than anyone had ever seen– also held a press conference expressing his disappointment.
I’m one to believe that this is all misdirection and posturing. The owners and players will never make negotiations –or at least details of negotiations– public. What they are saying in public mediums is meant to present a one-sided view of the talks, and is mostly PR swing.
That’s why it’s tough to really decipher what is going on here. It appears that talks have blown up, but the owners and players had what seemed to be prepared statements. Prepared statements are usually a dead giveaway. But what do I know? I’m just a lowly blogger who gets his info when his Twitter feed blows up with anit-Bettman and anti-Fehr sentiment.
The fact of the matter is that the NHL is frustrated because the tactics they used in 2004-2005 to break the union are not working. Fehr is a much tougher negotiator than they anticipated. As for the NHLPA, if the rumors are true that Fehr instructed them to “wait it out” because “he believes the owners will cave more,” then they are equally to blame.
It’s all a PR game. No one knows for sure what is going on behind closed doors. Meanwhile, while both sides play the PR war, the fans are the ones suffering.