I'm going to write this post in bullet point because there's too much to go through and it will make more sense if we break it up. So here we go:
- Let's start with what we know. According to reports, Gary Bettman requested a two-week layoff between talks to allow the two sides to talk. That request was later learned to be a suggestion, but it still says the same thing: "We're not going anywhere anytime soon so why not take a break." This obviously didn't sit well with anyone.
- On Saturday, there were reports that Ed Snider (who was reportedly one of Bettman's biggest supporters during this lockout) has turned on Bettman and actually wanted the lockout to end. Snider -- it should be remembered -- owns Spectacor which is a subsidiary of Comcast which in turn owns NBC, which obviously owns the NBC Sports Network, which has exclusive rights to the NHL. Snider denied the report hours later, but there's an overwhelming amount of evidence to support that this might actually be the case.
- Looking for evidence? Talks are supposedly resuming on Monday. So we went from a two-week break in talks to talks scheduled just a couple of days later -- and just hours after the Snider news went live.
- Now, I know Snider came out and said that he was behind Bettman and was unified with the owners, but he has to say that. No, he wouldn't have gotten fined if he didn't say anything, but understand that he still wants to get the best deal possible. Had he of come out and agree with the report, then Donald Fehr would have smelt real blood and went in for the kill. As of right now, thanks to Snider's press conference, they're just rumors. It's not hard to figure out the truth, but you can't confirm it, either.
- I think was this proves is simple: Both sides are fractured. At this point that shouldn't be a surprise. There are third and fourth line players who probably aren't thrilled with missing paychecks, just like there are owners who aren't thrilled with missing gate-ticket revenue. It works both ways. That doesn't mean either side is going to see the other crack publicly, however. But you would be crazy to assume both leaders have 100% support of their parties.
- Let's take an optimistic view for this point: If the two sides get a deal done by the middle of the week (remember talks are scheduled for Monday) then we can have hockey starting with meaningful games by December 1st.
- Now let's be negative. If the two sides break off talks again this week with no progress, then we're looking at a very shortened season, to the point where we could be seeing 40-games. That's even if the two sides come to an agreement. And remember, the more games we miss the harder this game becomes. I really think this is a make-or-break week for the two sides. If they can't come to an agreement then maybe we should put any hope you might have left on the shelf. Just a thought.