At what point do fans start expecting no progress to be made in these CBA negotiations, no matter what topics are on the table?
Have fans reached that point already? Are they at the tipping point? Did Wednesday's lack of progress despite talking about minor issues push fans over the edge? Or are fans simply absorbing the negativity because it's still October and the NHL hasn't officially cancelled any games yet?
Today was supposed to be the start of the New York Rangers regular season, if you forgot during this mess. Tonight, the Rangers were going to watch the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings raise their banner and then go head to head against the best team in the league last year.
Except that's not happening, because the NHL and NHLPA can't seem to find any middle ground anywhere. Read that sentence again. What's the last topic you remember the two sides agreeing on? Drug testing?
It doesn't help that we're in the middle of October and the two sides aren't even talking about the major issues. It doesn't help that the NHL brass doesn't think it's important to visit The Big House -- the NHL's venue for the 2013 Winter Classic.
That's not to say that there have been no positives. It just feels that way. According to multiple reports the two sides did meet more behind the scenes last week than originally reported. But it's hard for fans to get behind any hope and optimism when meetings like Wednesday's yield no progress on minor issues.
And, to be fair, the two sides haven't given fans any reasons to be optimistic. The NHL is still urging the NHLPA to give a new offer, while Donald Fehr and the NHLPA continue to take the stance that the NHL needs to make the next round of concessions.
For full disclosure, reports surfaced late last night that the NHLPA might be proposing a new offer in the very near future. That deal can't come soon enough. The NHLPA has been dragging their feet the past couple of weeks, and them sending forward a new proposal with some conseasions might be a major step forward. Maybe the NHLPA proposes a 52% share but demands the NHL keeps the contracts the way they are. Either way a new offer is a step forward.
Which leaves us here. Speculated optimism, and tons of real negativity.
It's a good thing that the two sides are still talking, everyone at least seems to agree on that, but it's irrelevant if the two sides can't make any progress when they are talking. Hopefully that changes with a new offer.
The two sides meet again today. Will we see any progress? Maybe. But it's not like the two sides have given fans any reason to have real hope.