With four straight days of negotiations (Tuesday through Friday), the National Hockey League and the NHLPA had given the fans of the league hope that the Collective Bargaining Agreement battle would cease and that hockey would start the season.
Not so fast.
UPDATE: Sunday, November 11, 1:10 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
After the talks ended negatively this week, the NHL and NHLPA are reportedly retuning to the bargaining table in hopes of saving as much of the regular season as they can.
Sam Carchidi of Philadelphia's The Inquirer is reporting on the resumption of the CBA talks and the deadline to have hockey starting Dec. 1:
While the fact that the sides continue to talk is a good sign, the fact that no real progress has been made is alarming. Both sides continue to posture in the public-relations war, but each must realize the severity of the situation before we lose more games.
---End of Update---
As both sides continue to wage a public-relations war on each other, the NHL and NHLPA are no closer to an agreement than they were a few months ago. Michael Russo of Minneapolis' Star-Tribune reported that both sides continue to posture for an advantage in the negotiating process, further sullying the chance to get a deal done anytime soon.
Instead of getting closer to a deal that would end the lockout, the two sides have stood their ground and refused to come off their initial demands.
Kevin Allen of USA TODAY Sports reported on the tone as the week of meetings ended and what exactly is holding up the NHL season:
Friday's session ended with a negative tone when the two sides were not able to reach a compromise on the core economic issue. Owners want to reduce the players' share of the revenue from 57% to 50%. Players will reduce their share but want it accomplished in a manner that allows protection for contracts already signed. By going from 57% to 50%, players would have to pay back more than $462 million through escrow over just the first two seasons.
Owners have offered a "make good" provision that would allow players to be returned $211 million of that money, but players have said that isn't enough. Plus, owners seeking some concessions on individual contract issues, such as free agency and arbitration. Owners also want individual contracts capped at five years.
With both sides effectively running smear campaigns on each other, it’s hard to decipher what is truth and what is fabricated. The only thing certain at this point is that each side is standing by its demands, and the fans are the ones suffering.
As is always the case in these situations, the details of the negotiations come down to the split of the league’s revenue and the basic format of contracts. With the negotiation process still unable to work out the most fundamental issues, there appears to be no end in sight.
The 2004-05 season was cancelled officially on Feb. 16, 2005, so there is still plenty of time to try and salvage a portion of the season, but the longer this goes on, the more the sides will bicker over the dwindling total income for this season.
If the league and the NHLPA can’t get on the same page soon, all that fans will be able to hope for is a shortened season like the one we had in 1994-95 (season stared on Jan. 20, 1995).
This is an ugly situation that continues to get uglier by the day.
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