Gary Bettman's tactics seem almost laughable.
It seemed like he was saying that he was interested in getting the season started by Nov. 2 when the league made its 50-50 offer to the NHL Players' Association on Oct. 16 (source: TSN.ca).
Not only did the offer represent a reasonable increase in the players' revenue from the previous offer, he also presented a plan that indicated playing a full 82-game season was still viable.
Did he really expect Donald Fehr and the NHLPA to roll on their backs, keep their feet up in the air in celebration and just blindly accept the offer?
If he did, he couldn't have been more mistaken.
Fehr is a savvy and intelligent veteran of sports negotiations. He has been through many rodeos. He does not just roll over because someone has made him what amounts to a first offer.
It's a first offer because what the NHL had sent the players' way prior to the 50-50 offer had amounted to a non-starter.
The NHL had offered the NHLPA 46 percent (source: SI.com) of the Hockey Related Revenues and Fehr had not given that offer any credence.
The NHLPA was happy that Bettman had come out with his offer, but it was not about to accept it. The NHL was still asking for a seven percent reduction, so the NHLPA came back with its own counteroffer.
Three of them, to be exact.
Bettman and the NHL owners (source: CBSSports.com) didn't like any of them.
That's their prerogative.
However, when you are in negotiations and the clock is ticking, what is the point of throwing your hands in the air, saying you don't like any of them and saying you don't know what you are going to do next?
You get back in the room, you say what you don't like and you continue to talk.
Bettman did not do that.
Is Bettman trying to force the players' hands and strong-arm them into accepting the offer so the 82-game season can be played?
That makes no sense. Fehr's credentials are solid. He's not going to fall for intimidation tactics.
He didn't fall apart when he was criticized by Major League Baseball owners and he's not going to give in just because Bettman is acting like a bully.
Fehr is simply going to look out for his players and their best interests. That's basically what Bettman will do once he stops acting like he can tell the players what they have to do.
It's time for the men to start acting like men.
Maybe Bettman can follow their example and figure out how to behave as well.
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