When we last convened about a week ago, the NHL lockout was a few days old and there was very little in the way of optimism that a new collective bargaining agreement was in the works and would save the season. So where do we stand Sept. 24? Exactly the same spot we were in then, except with a little less hockey.
Over the past week, the NHL has canceled training camps and it has called off preseason games for the month of September. Rumblings have even surfaced that the Winter Classic would be canceled in November, if there was no CBA in place, according to the Toronto Star. Many players have started heading to Europe, many of the younger ones have been sent to the minors (American Hockey League is not locked out) and others are mulling their options: the longer the lockout lasts, the more likely they play abroad.
There has been no formal meetings between the league and the NHL Players' Association; in fact, there's been more bashing from each sides than there has been rumors of another meeting in the works. Players talk of how the league is greedy, while the owners say the players need to make concessions. Detroit Red Wings vice president Jim Devellano likened the players to "cattle," with the owners considered the "ranch," saying the "owners simply aren't going to let a union push them around," according to the Detroit Free Press.
The owners want to pay the players much less than the 57 percent of hockey-related revenues they currently earn, while the players want to hold onto 52 percent of the pie by fusing their shares with projected growth.
But as the shots -- which have, sadly, not occurred on the ice -- are being taken, Monday night offered a "promising" sign in that the league hopes to meet with the NHLPA in Toronto this week ... for the first time since Sept. 12. Still, there's no date announced, though both sides' main figures will be in Toronto. The way negotiations have gone up to this point, optimism should be dulled, but there's never going to be a new CBA if the two sides never meet. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly on Monday met with some of the union -- commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr were not in attendance -- to go over accounting for last season, but there were no CBA talks.
However, Fehr, in his session with reporters, did acknowledge that the NHL does not want to lose any games.
"We're 100 percent focused on not missing any regular-season games," Daly said, according to the Sporting News. "And hopefully we can achieve that objective."
Still, even though Daly talks the talk to in order to look like the "good guy," his other statements signify that in order for a deal to get done, the players really are going to have to give in, which they've said wouldn't happen because the union is stronger than ever.
"I think it's fair to say we feel like we need to hear from the players' association in a meaningful way, because I don't think they've really moved off of their initial proposal, which was made more than a month ago," Daly said, according to the National Post.
The regular season is set to start Oct. 11. Teams don't really need that many preseason games to get ready, but it's clear a significant amount of progress is going to have to be made at this forthcoming meeting for there to even be some hope for an 82-game season.