The signing of free agent Shane Doan is likely on hold until there's an agreement between the owners and players.
While Doan continues to command a great deal of attention, teams after the 35-year-old right winger do not appear to be in a hurry to get any deal done. Plus, Doan has made it known on more than one occasion that he has no desire to leave the Coyotes, a franchise for whom he has played for since entering the NHL in the 1995-96 season.
The pursuit of Doan, at this point, maybe more superfluous than real.
That’s because there may not be an NHL season when the puck is supposed to drop for real in mid-October, and Doan, plus all other players, will be locked out. That would make the second time in less than 10 years the NHL will lose games to a labor dispute. The last lockout cancelled the entire 2004-05 season.
The Coyotes are scheduled to open their season at home Saturday Oct. 13 with Dallas and this game, as well as all others, could vanish.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners expires on Sept. 15 and the players have yet to present any contract proposal. That is scheduled for Tuesday, and the owners’ proposal, offered last week, places the players’ revenue take at 46 percent, down from 57 percent of the deal which is about to expire.
"I don't see it as a legitimate proposal,” Kings‘ defenseman Willie Mitchell told the Toronto Globe and Mail. “It's just a non-starter. Players have a lot to lose, the public has a lot to lose, and the ownership have a lot to lose. It's just all posturing right now."
Many believe the loss of the Winter Classic, slated for Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, and with the potential to be the largest live gate in NHL history, could be the carrot which creates a deal. The game, scheduled between Detroit and Toronto, has evolved as an important event in the NHL calendar, and the loss of this game could have a spiraling effect.
The Winter Classic marks the start of NBC’s coverage of the NHL and the losing this game, both from a financial standpoint and public relations perspective, could be devastating.
For now, the sides have just over a month to get this done, and the future of Doan, in particular, hangs in the balance.
The fact there has been little movement on the Doan front touches the threat of no hockey, and also of the Coyotes' sale dilemma. The team was scheduled to change ownership from the NHL to a group headed by former Sharks’ CEO Greg Jamison this past spring.
The NHL went as far as to introduce Jamison as the next owner of the team to the Phoenix media during the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Coyotes and Nashville.
Yet, multiple-sources continue to report that Jamison’s group is $20 million short of the NHL’s asking price of $175 million.
The fact there has been no movement on Jamison’s acquisition of the Coyotes says a great deal in relation to the progress, or lack thereof, in trying to get a deal done before September 15. If no agreement is struck, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, in a clear and forceful manner, the players will be locked out.
If that happens, and there is no NHL hockey for a considerable period of time, this only gives Jamsion’s group, if they still retain interest in buying the Coyotes, extra time to gather the $20 million and take the team off the NHL’s hands.
This also means Doan can sign with another team, but that would be viewed as worthless for the moment. That's because he could not skate with his teammates and not be paid. So teams have the luxury to wait for an agreement in place before reaching out seriously to Doan.
In the meantime, Doan appears to be biding his time, and like the rest of the hockey world will wait to see what happens between now and September 15.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.