How far will Donald Fehr push?
As of right now, here's all we know. The two sides met with mediators again Wednesday afternoon/night. No progress was made, mainly because the mediators met with both sides separately and neither side showed a willingness to come off of their respective stances. (Personal note: isn't the mediators job to get both sides to give a little?) We also learned that Gary Bettman was bluffing when he said "everything" was off the table last Thursday, although he wasn't kidding about the three issues (five-year max contracts, 10-year CBA and 5% variance of contracts) being non-negotiable.
The NHLPA met internally for hours after the mediators and NHL left the meetings on Wednesday, and many speculated over what they were talking about. The best guess? Donald Fehr was drawing his line in the sand and figuring out what deal the players would accept before they move forward. Maybe the players would accept the NHL's offer if put to a vote. Maybe they wouldn't.
The fact is the NHL has a deal on the table they think is acceptable. And when you take a good look at it, there is a deal to be made here. It's about as obvious as can be. The two sides are even close than they were before. So why hasn't a deal been struck? Because both sides are pushing for more.
Well, actually, the NHLPA is pushing for more. The NHL is standing firm on it's offer, but I guess in a way that's pushing, too.
So the question is quickly becoming "When will Fehr make a deal." The NHL has a proposal on the table that's not "draconian" and not out of line. It's obvious there are more owners in the room who want to make a deal than not, otherwise the offer still wouldn't be sitting on the table.
But the finish line? Only Fehr knows where it is.
The players met Wednesday for hours pondering their next move. The puck is in their end of the ice, there's no debate about that, either.
The only question is what they do with it.