NHL Lockout 2012: Sifting through the nonsense

Bruce Bennett

The 2012 NHL lockout has taken yet another ugly turn. So what's actually going on? We try to sift through everything.

This is going to be another bullet-point story because I think it's important to highlight all the different moving parts in this story. So let's get going:

- First of all, thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families from the Newtown tragedy. I live in Connecticut and went to school at Quinnipiac. My ties to the state are pretty deep at this point in my life. And while I wasn't personally affected by the tragedy, nor do I have children of my own, this still hit home. So to all those impacted by that madman, we're here for you and praying for you, if it means anything.

- There's no easy way to transition from the shooting into the CBA negotiations, but I will say this. A couple of weeks ago I taked about how a best friend's wedding put the NHL lockout into perspective. The Newtown tragedy did the same thing, but on the other side of the spectrum. The world keeps spinning. And every day that passes makes these two sides arguing over $3.3 billion seem less and less significant.

- So the NHL beat the NHLPA to the gun by taking this nonsense to court, eh? It's another brilliant move by the NHL. For those of you who are confused as to why it matters which sides files first (I know there was a lot of confusion) it's because the NHL had the ability to choose which state to file the grievance in. They chose New York because New York is more likely to side with the owners. The players? Word is they probably would have tried to file in California.

- Want an interesting nugget in all of this? The NHL is trying to make the case that if the union dissolves then all previously signed contracts become null and void. So every single player would be an UFA. That might sound nice to some teams, but do you think every owner is OK with that? You think the Pittsburgh Penguins (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin), the Tampa Bay Lightning (Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman) or even the New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist) want that? How is it that more owners haven't thrown an internal fit about this? (Although to be fair, we wouldn't really know if they did.) If I were an owner, I would be furious about that. Furious.

- You can call last Friday the day things truly got ugly. The NHL and the NHLPA have been at each other's throats pretty much from day one. The NHL has been arguing over the NHLPA's negotiating tactics from the beginning. But what Gary Bettman and company seem to forget is that they're the ones who set the tone of these negotiations. They're the ones who have been giving take-it-or-leave-it offers. They're the ones who have tried to take everything from the players from the beginning. And now they're mad that the players are pushing back? What a joke.

- I know many of you think I'm anti-players. I'm not. Not even a little. The only point that I've tried to make from all of this is that the players have no leverage. They're playing on a tilted surface. The offer the owners gave the players a couple of weeks ago was doable. Donald Fehr saw a reason to push further. And now we're here. I've said this from the beginning: I wonder how many people will be pro players if we lose this season and they end up taking a deal they could have had to save this season earlier. It's a very real possibility if we lose this season. The leverage simply isn't on the player's side. And there aren't nearly enough moderate owners who might swing things the NHLPA's direction.

- This insanity doesn't mean a deal is far off, either. Which actually makes this even worse. Like I've said, the end is coming soon. One way or another we're going to get some closure from all of this. But for now it's just a mess.

Thoughts?

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