NHL Lockout: Are We Starting to See the Owners' Resolve Weaken?
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Most NHL fans are waiting for the NHLPA's resolve to cripple so the NHL lockout can end, because billionaire owners are rarely the ones who blink first in labor disputes.
On day 63 of the lockout, should we be more focused on the possibility of the owners' resolve deteriorating?
UPDATE: Saturday, November 17 at 5:29 p.m. ET by Nicholas Goss
Ed Snider has responded to Frank Seravalli's article in the Philadelphia Daily News (see main article below). Here are his comments (via Anthony SanFilippo of Flyers.com):
"An article appearing in today's Philadelphia Daily News is absolutely erroneous,” Snider said. “I am a solid supporter of National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and the League in this unfortunate situation.
In other lockout news, CBA talks could resume very soon, according to Darren Dreger of TSN:
NHL and PA expect to meet Monday night. Smaller group, but players and owners likely included.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 17, 2012
Be sure to check Bleacher Report's NHL page for lockout updates as they become available.
---End of Update---
Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reported some very interesting information on Saturday regarding Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Daily News on Friday that Snider, once seen as a supporter of the Bettman's push to rein in the players' share of revenue, has soured on the process after it became apparent that a deal would not be brokered in time for a Dec. 1 puck drop.
Put simply: Snider and the rest of the NHL's owners were promised a big win by Bettman, with player concessions on revenue division and contracting rights. The best they'll get now is a small win in revenue split - coupled with a demoralized fan base and all-important corporate sponsors that are ready to quit.
A source familiar with Snider's thinking characterized it as: "If this is the deal we are going to get, what's the point of dragging this out?"
If NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr believes the above information is correct, he will take full advantage of it at the bargaining table. The players have seemed skeptical of the league's unity throughout this entire process.
This could be the perfect scenario for the players, whose ideal situation is a marquee owner such as Snider being upset.
Snider also has ties to Comcast, which owns NBC, the network with the NHL's national television rights.
On Sunday, the two sides will have gone one week without meeting for official CBA talks, but that could change some time soon with deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr communicating on Friday, as reported by ESPN New York's Katie Strang.
#CBA Bill Daly and Steve Fehr spoke today. Plan to talk again over weekend to determine next step in bargaining process— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) November 17, 2012
It wouldn't be surprising for the NHLPA to wait a bit longer before making a move. If the owners do decide to change their approach in negotiations, the players would be wise to sit back and see if the league makes more concessions.
A popular thought throughout this process has been that the CBA offers from the league to the players will only get worse as the lockout goes on.
Which side will crack first?
That wasn't the case during the previous lockout when the deal that the NHLPA finally ratified ended up being better than the final proposal made by the NHL before commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the 2004-05 season.
The deal isn't going to get worse for the players in this lockout, and if Fehr thinks the owners might be starting to crack, he could take control of this labor dispute.
Fehr is the last person a league with owners who aren't all on the same page want to see at the bargaining table.
The NHL has made a number of mistakes during this lockout, and props to Snider if he's seen enough.
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