NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Both Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman have become masters of subtly injecting ominous quotes into their press conferences. On Thursday, Fehr may have potentially dropped the biggest bomb of all.
In the press conference, Fehr had this little gem for the media:
"What I have said before and the only thing I am prepared to say now is that if we get past that point, then the players are as free to reconsider their positions as the owners. That's all I can say."
He doesn't even have to say it. You know what he's talking about. The salary cap.
Many of you disagreed with me yesterday when I said that things would get much uglier the morning of September 16th. But the block quote above is all the proof you need to see just how far these negotiations can go the longer this thing lasts. Think about the consequences of the NHLPA going after the salary cap.
Join me after the jump for more.
It remains to be seen just how long these negotiations would have to drag on for Fehr to use the nuclear option. If he uses it at all. He would have to know that attacking the salary cap would be an automatic stopper for all negotiations. Remember how relieved media members were at the beginning of this process that the NHLPA started negotiating in the salary cap realm.
There is still time for the two sides to make an agreement by the 15th, but it would take a miracle at this point.
The league just gave a counter offer, probably the best raw offer the players are going to see. The league's expectation was probably to see the NHLPA negotiate off the offer. Fehr had no desire to do so. During the press conference yesterday Fehr did not make it clear whether or not there would be another offer from the players.
You can be sure you won't see another offer from the NHL before the deadline. Bettman has already said the league won't negotiate against itself. So we could see a back-and-forth again if the NHLPA makes an offer today or tomorrow, but that remains to be seen.
If, however, these negotiations drag on, we might see things start to deteriorate. Remember, both Bettman and Fehr have said negotiating gets harder after the 15th.
Especially if the NHLPA goes after the salary cap.