NHL Lockout 2012: The clock keeps ticking, no official talks scheduled

Bruce Bennett

Neither side willing to budge as time continues to waste away.

There has been a pretty well accepted ideology among the media who has spent their time covering the lockout this year, something that they've pointed towards when things have gotten bleak. They've pointed towards last year's NBA lockout and how that situation played out as a pretty good litmus test for how the NHL lockout is moving along.

The NBA lockout ended the middle of December, with the first games starting Christmas morning like a perfectly wrapped Christmas present for all the NBA fans out there. But are we on the same path for th NHL? Maybe.

I don't care what it looks like right now, the sides got significantly closer in their last round of failed negotiations. They're finally dealing with the same proposal and talking the same language. They're so close in terms of money that it's almost astounding that they're not already finished with this insanity, but alas they're not.

The reason why they're not finished yet is pretty simple: The egos involved. Neither Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr want to blink, both have made a living winning these staring contests, and right now everyone is losing because of it. Today's issue? The NHLPA wants contracting issues to remain the same and also wants the NHL to add a significant amount more to the make whole provision. As far as I can tell those are the only two major issues on the table.

But the NHLPA can't have both. If they want the make whole provision funded to their satisfaction (I know this will shock you, but the two sides disagree about how much money is needed to fund it) then they can't expect to win every contracting issue. It's simply not going to happen. And, honestly, the general managers of the NHL have already shown an inability to control themselves, so is a five-year max contract really that bad? If the players win on the age restrictions (leaving 27 as the UFA age) then players would get two big contracts -- one at 27 and one at 32 -- in their primes or around them. How have they not learned this lesson by now?

A lot of critics of the players have said that Fehr won't make a deal until the players tell him to. But the truth is the same on the other side of the fence, too. And the owners aren't going to beg Bettman to make a deal anytime soon (or ever). If reports can be believed they're already disappointed since Bettman promised a massive win in these negotiations, a reality he can't deliver since the NHL and NHLPA have already agreed on a 50-50 split.

But there's some more agreement left to be done before hockey comes back. Not too many things, but the current process it could take awhile. Hopefully hockey fans have the same Christmas morning NBA fans did. That would be nice.

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