How can a solution to the 2012 NHL lockout be reached if the league won't meet with its players to further discuss the matter?
That has to be the question on hockey fans' minds after the league refused to meet just ahead of Thursday's deadline that would have still allowed a full, 82-game season to be possible if an agreement was reached.
The politics of this situation have been handled poorly, particularly by the league in recent weeks. From what Washington Post reporter Stephen Whyno gathered, the league submitted its latest proposal last Tuesday.
Such an amount of time ahead of this Thursday's deadline would seem encouraging—only after that, the league severed communication with the players.
NHL Players' Association director Donald Fehr broke down the players' side of things in Whyno's article:
The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners direction. We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not. At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created.
The very next day—the day of the deadline—the NHL announced its plan to withdraw the proposal it had submitted, according to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. Despite Fehr's indication that the players had compromised to the owners' benefit, the league allegedly didn't want to hear it.
Instead of considering the players' adjustments to the league's latest proposal—which was much to their detriment even still—the league allowed the deadline to pass without reviewing what the players recommended. Because the NHL refused to even meet with them.
In fairness, all of the blame can't fall on the owners. It takes two to negotiate, but there are two sides to every story.
Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller had some strong words that were an indictment on both the NHL and NHLPA, in a story by ESPN the Magazine's Craig Custance:
The two sides are close enough to a deal that missing the bulk of a season is wrong and missing an entire season is not only insane, it is a blatant disregard for the sport, the fans and the culture we have grown over decades -- just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side.
While it may be true that both sides are trying to satisfy egos, it seems the league was the side with too much pride in the latest test of wills. The fact that Miller says a deal is close enough to have a season is unfair to the fans and the other league employees affected negatively by the lockout.
The biggest hangup is over hockey-related revenue (HRR), which used to be 57-43 percent in favor of the players. A 50-50 split is what the league is now proposing, which seems reasonable.
Some NHL players aren't exactly light in the wallet, but what about the owners? Do the mega-rich who own hockey teams really need that much more of the HRR cut? The NHL really handcuffed its players by not taking significant time to consider the players' adjustments to the latest proposal.
This situation could lead to further animosity as negotiations continue. Here's to hoping egos can be put aside and that the puck can be dropped for the 2012-13 season as soon as possible.