As NHL & NHLPA prepare for a possible showdown in court, communication between the two sides has reportedly ground to a halt.
TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA chief counsel Steve Fehr acknowledged there’s been no formal talks scheduled between the two sides, though both claimed they’re ready to resume negotiations when the other side is ready to return to the bargaining table.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering recent developments, that shouldn’t be a surprise, though I daresay there are folks on both sides quietly working to try to find a way to resolve the standoff without resorting to the courts.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside lament the recent turn in NHL CBA talks, predicting no winners if the two sides proceed to the courts to resolve their labor standoff. Craig Custance, meanwhile, explains why a disclaimer of interest by the NHLPA doesn’t mean the end of this season, or the end of Donald Fehr as the players’ leader, though there’s no guarantee how this will play out in court.
SPECTOR’S NOTE; Just because the players are voting on disclaimer of interest doesn’t necessarily mean the NHLPA will use it. We’ll know by January 2 if they intend to follow through with it. If they do got the disclaimer route, Donald Fehr will still be involved, more as an advisor or, as one pundit put it, as a baseball manager ejected from a game still monitors things down the tunnel or the clubhouse.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Roy MacGregor on how the lockout is doing “alarming damage” to the NHL brand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the league was truly concerned about the potential damage to its brand, this lockout never would’ve happened. The league brain trust, however, remain confident they’ll quickly recoup their losses, because they have, in the words of Commissioner Gary Bettman, “the greatest fans in the world”. In other words, they’re not worried about short term financial losses, because they’re assuming the fans will come flocking back, just as they did before.
SPORTSNET.CA: Rob Becker on how the NHLPA’s disclaimer of interest strategy might backfire, suggesting the possibility the judge might not buy it, leaving the players perhaps little choice but to accept the NHL’s terms.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes the NHL is more preoccupied in crushing the NHLPA than in negotiating a workable CBA.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL has won. Everyone knows it. The players have agreed to a number of key concessions, including a 50-50 split on revenue, given up their demand for all existing contracts to be honored in return for a partial “make whole” provision, and are willing to accept term limits on contracts. All the league has to do now is just haggle over the fine print, but it appears they’re more interested in driving a wedge between the players and the PA leadership.
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: Chris Botta presents, “Your guide to the NHL’s point of no return”.
CBC.CA: Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos is trying to make the most of the lockout, including his participation in a charity game in Toronto on Wednesday featuring other locked-out NHL stars.
DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings player and PA rep Daniel Cleary anticipates the NHLPA membership will overwhelming vote to allow the PA executive to file for disclaimer of interest. Cleary hopes that threat could result to an end to the lockout as it did with the NBA and NFL, suggesting there’s only a small window of opportunity to bring this lockout to a season-saving conclusion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Sportsnet’s Rob Becker suggested above, it’s a gamble the players could lose.
CSNCHICAGO.COM: Tracey Myers reports Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa is back in Chicago, happy to be medically cleared to return to action after months of recovery from a season-ending concussion. Hossa hopes to return to action with the Blackhawks this season, but could consider options overseas if the NHL cancels the rest of this season.