NHL Lockout, Day 38: No Formal Talks Planned As Deadline To Save Full Season Approaches
The NHL and the NHLPA "stood their ground Monday and there are no formal talks planned to discuss a collective bargaining agreement," according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA SUN. The two sides "face a Thursday deadline to get a deal in place, open camps Saturday and start the season Nov. 2." Some in the media are "speculating bargaining could resume" tomorrow in N.Y. But NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail said that the league is "willing to negotiate only on the offer it made the union last Tuesday." League sources said that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "won't be allowed to offer up any more concessions to try to get a deal and, in fact, he has gone further than some owners expected." There is "concern in league circles the NHL won't be able to do anything" to satisfy NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, and if Bettman "continues to negotiate he is doing so against himself despite tremendous pressure to play." Sources said that if there is no deal in place by Thursday, "it's possible as much as a month of the schedule will be chopped Friday because the NHL wants to free up arena dates." Sources said that some "renegade owners would support cancelling the whole season if nothing is done soon, but Bettman isn't about to do that because he feels there is a strong chance of a labour agreement" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/23). Meanwhile, ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang cited a source as saying that talks "are likely to resume at some point this week" (ESPNNY.com, 10/22).
CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR: In New Jersey, Andrew Gross writes what "can't be discounted" during the NHL labor dispute is a "growing clash of egos" between Bettman and Fehr. The two "seem to have more mutual respect than marked Bettman's relationship" with former NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow during the '04-05 lockout. But the "disintegration of last week's promise spoke to the attitudes of the leaders." When the NHLPA "came back with three counter-proposals to the NHL's initial 50-50 proposal, Bettman acted like a petulant child." He reportedly "dismissed the union's proposals within 15 minutes." But a "smug Fehr used his Thursday press conference as a bully pulpit, lecturing the owners on the history of past negotiations." In doing so, he "came across as just and inflexible as Bettman" (Bergen RECORD, 10/23). Bruins C David Krejci said, "We want to play, we're the ones who are doing the show in the NHL, but Bettman thinks (it's him). It is unfortunate that the NHL has such a guy. It's a shame for the entire hockey world. (He) treats us like animals" (ESPNNY.com, 10/22). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote the "bile directed towards Gary Bettman is ridiculous and misplaced." Cox: "But I will say this. His No. 1 priority every season should be to get the season started on time, every time. He has failed" (THESTAR.com, 10/22).
HURRY UP & WAIT: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote there "seems to be this sense of urgency to get an 82-game season jammed into the remaining time -- both so the players can collect their entire salaries and the owners can recoup their loss of pre-season revenues -- and it’s exactly this kind of climate during which the owners have been willing to abandon their principles." What the league "has to do is grow some and hold out for the deal it needs." It should "not be concerned with saving the season." Campbell: "Do not cave to the segment of fans whose only answer to this lockout is to lock the owners and players into a room until a deal is done, or just get a deal done already because we don’t care about these issues. Just bloody well get it right this time" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/22). Meanwhile, the GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes, "One gets the feeling that if someone could grab each side by the scruff of the neck and sit them at a table with no chance of leaving for at least 12 hours, the lockout could end" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).
EUROPEAN VACATION: Panthers RW George Parros said that the union "remains solid despite the distance between members." Parros: "I think we're strong as ever. Just because guys have gone over to play in Europe, I don't see that as weakness at all" (LATIMES.com, 10/22). Meanwhile, Predators LW Sergei Kostitsyn said that he "hopes the lockout will lead to the cancellation of the entire season." Kostitsyn yesterday said to Russian daily Sport-Express, "Let's put it this way -- it would be better (for the players) if the lockout continues. Players want a definite answer. If the NHL season is lost -- let it be that way. I would then play in Russia for the whole season" (REUTERS, 10/22). SI.com's Stu Hackel noted attendance is "apparently booming in the KHL with the arrival of so many locked out NHL players." As the "impasse continues, another wave of players signing contracts with European clubs seems possible" (SI.com, 10/22).