NHL lockout 2012: Time running out on preserving full season

Jonathan Daniel

Six days ago, the NHL owners proposed what commissioner Gary Bettman said was their 'best shot' at saving the season. It brought newfound optimism into the collective bargaining negotiations if only because it was the first offer from either the owners or Players' Association in over a month.

Two days later, though, the union came back with a menu that consisted of three offers, all of which reached the 50-50 split the owners sought, even if it was a gradual fade to that amount. That Oct. 19 meeting lasted one hour, an especially ominous sign that Bettman confirmed, saying the two sides "weren't speaking the same language." Ever since, the talks have reached a staring contest. The two sides have "talked" -- they did so Sunday -- but they have not negotiated. While Katie Strang of ESPN.com reports discussions are expected to resume this week, there have been none scheduled as of Monday night.

In the meantime, the NHL on Oct. 20 canceled all games through Nov. 1. In its most recent proposal, the league said Oct. 25 would be the date that a new CBA had to be ironed out for the full season to be salvaged. Unless there's a serious change of heart in the next few days from one side to cave to the other's demands, that is is looking remote at this point. And that means a big chunk of games will likely be called off by the end of the week (as that also puts the fear factor into the players, too). In total, there have been 135 games "nixed," and that'll likely be official very soon. With the lockout 37 days old, and neither side willing to stray from its current offers, American League Hockey may be the best you can get for a while in the United States.

If you want to find the positives in all of this, as Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com alluded to, it's that at least common ground -- 50-50 revenue split -- has been established. Both sides have at least acknowledged through their offers that they are willing to work toward that. Haggerty likened this lockout to the NBA's because it had a very similar feel: a lax beginning, followed by some offers and a feel-good vibe and then not much of anything. It took the NBA another month to reach an agreement, and though the full season wasn't preserved, there was at least basketball eventually. Losing a month or so of games isn't necessarily a bad thing. The big loss would come from a scrapped season.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun tweeted Monday that he spoke to a team executive who said if there wasn't a deal this week or next week, there wouldn't be a season. While we might not see the full 82-game slate, there's no way anybody involved wants to miss the year -- at least at this point. That's just gamesmanship, which is something each side has become experts at during this frustrating time for hockey fans.

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