CHICAGO - MAY 03: Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks at a press conference before the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Vancouver Canucks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 3, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Friday morning was a day filled with optimism and hope. The NHL had presented their second offer on Wednesday, and the NHLPA was finally going to make their response after a day of deliberation. But hope vanished after the meetings broke up and both sides spoke to the media.
The quick view: As of right now, there will be no more talks. There are a few core issues that the two sides aren't willing to budge on (mainly players taking an immediate reduction in salaries) and there's no need to talk if neither side is going to say anything different. Donald Fehr claimed that Gary Bettman was the one who called off the talks and that the NHLPA is ready to talk whenever, Bettman refuted the claim.
Join me after the jump for more.
A good way to tell how the negotiations are going is by reading into what is said after the negotiations to the press. And if you heard yesterday's quotes, well, it's not a good sign. Both sides took shots at the other yesterday. Fehr talked about how baseball is the only sport with consistent labor peace (more on this in a minute), how the NHL isn't willing to look at a new direction for the league and how the players aren't going to be locking out the sport come September 15th.
Bettman told the media that any discussion of revenue sharing is a distraction at this point in the negotiations (more on this in a minute), that the players really didn't give a counter offer (the players modified their original offer), that the league has been willing to negotiate for a year and a thinly veiled threat that negotiations will get harder once September 16th rolls around.
Let's start with Fehr's consistent baseball references during this entire process. They're annoying, to say the least. The NHL is not the MLB, and while a modified version of revenue sharing is something both sides want to see, how they get it done is the different. But in every single interview Fehr mentions the MLB. It doesn't help, at all.
But let's get to Bettman. His comments about revenue sharing being a distraction is a window into the owner's negotiations. The big-market teams are running the show. There is no way teams like the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, etc. wouldn't be interested in a deeper revenue sharing structure. The big teams are running the show here. That's not a surprise.
Jesse Spector put it best:
Every previous labor negotiation, across sports, players have been painted as greedy, out for more money. Not this time. The problem? That doesn't matter. The NHL has been getting destroyed in the media and by the fans since these negotiations started. The owners really didn't have a chance once Bettman said they would lock the players out if no new deal was put in place by the 15th. But, as we've discussed before, none of that really matters.
Every previous labor negotiation, across sports, players have been painted as greedy, out for more money. Not this time.
The problem? That doesn't matter. The NHL has been getting destroyed in the media and by the fans since these negotiations started. The owners really didn't have a chance once Bettman said they would lock the players out if no new deal was put in place by the 15th. But, as we've discussed before, none of that really matters.
The owners don't care that they're losing the PR battle. They're fairly confident that they are going to get what they want. And you know what? There's no reason for them not to be confident. Bettman gets what he wants. He always does. Many fans are wondering how he had a job. It's because he gets the owners what they want when they want. Every. Single. Time.
By the same token, it does take two sides to tango. Fehr needs to know that a four-year, short-term CBA isn't going to be something the NHL is looking for. And him continuing to ratify their four-year deal on Friday was a pretty clear sign that both sides still aren't close, and don't seem like they're getting any closer.
Things have finally gotten ugly for the NHL and the NHLPA. Oh, and the fans too.
Can't forget about them.