After meeting Wednesday morning in advance of what was a scheduled 1pm start for this week’s CBA negotiations, executives on both sides (including Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, Don Fehr, and his brother Steve) elected to delay the larger talks until Thursday morning. CP’s Chris Johnston has a thorough summary of the events, including the assertion that it was a “mutual” decision.
I’m not really sure how re-assuring this is supposed to be, especially given scrum comments from Fehr like, “You can probably sense a certain amount of frustration amongst the parties.” (Despite his quick follow-up assertion that this sort of thing is, like, totally normal at this stage of bargaining.) But news of the delay may actually be more positive than negative.
Obviously, there has to be a reason why beginning talks yesterday afternoon wouldn’t have been advisable. I take that to mean both sides recognized a key issue (or two, or twenty) that would invariably devolve into an unproductive shouting match, and perhaps prudently though, “You know, let’s re-visit our respective sides to discuss the issue more thoroughly before convening as a group in the hopes of using the larger negotiation time more wisely.”
I’m sure that wasn’t it. But we can dream, can’t we?
Perhaps most indicative of this slim, good faith-y hope was a quote from Bill Daly on the subject: “I think more than anything else it was to review where we are in the process, where we’ve come from, where we are with the various proposals and to determine how to move the process forward in the best way possible â€” hoping and understanding that both sides are committed to using the time left to making a deal as quickly as possible,” he said.
Now, that could mean nothing. Or it could mean that the NHL is getting tired of bad press because, to this point, Fehr and the NHLPA have been stealing all the “we are the heroes who want to avoid a lockout at all costs, and they’re the villains who might cause one” rhetoric. Or it could, heaven allow it, be a legitimate statement of truth indicating that both sides are using every waking second to think of a fair and productive solution to this largely fabricated problem, and not just devising various ways to skin one another on the final dotted line.
Thursday morning links!
-Taylor Hall will be an Edmonton Oiler for 7 more years, and it will cost them $42 million. Apparently a Jordan Eberle deal is soon to follow. Good for that godawful Sarlaac pit of a franchise. No, really. It’s great to see a Canadian team lock up a budding star. It makes me think how nice it will feel when we sign Jake Gardiner to a significant multi-year contract. And how crappy we’ll feel when Phil Kessel walks as a UFA.
-Here’s Don Fehr’s post-delay media scrum, mentioned above. He really is a captivating public speaker. You want to say he exudes just a slight touch of ‘smug’, but he’s so damned slick and informed while doing it.
-Michael Grange, who’s been on the [censored] money with most of his CBA-related pieces lately, chimed in Wednesday with optimism about the delay not unlike the kind I hastily threw together above.
-While we’re at Sportsnet, here’s Brophy’s piece on the Leafs adding Paul Ranger, which I know you’ve already been discussing for two days, but hey, it’s a Mashup, and I need to fill it with something.