NHL Lockout: NHL, NHLPA 'Unwilling to Negotiate'?

Riley KuftaContributor IIINovember 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It's now been two months and six days since the previous CBA expired; one month and ten days since the regular season was scheduled to start, and the lockout still drags on. 

Throughout this disgusting display of PR spins, finger pointing and name calling, we have consistently seen both sides make the claim that the other is "unwilling to negotiate." While making these claims is nothing but detrimental to the process, there must be some truth on at least one side of the equation. If both sides had a sincere desire to negotiate and reach a deal as quickly as possible, it would be done. 

The NHL, despite making significant movement since their initial proposal, is still demanding serious concessions, has flat out rejected all of the PA proposals and even refused to meet numerous times. 

Donald Fehr and the PA, on the other hand, is always willing to meet but rarely brings concrete negotiations to the table. The PA has brought forth many proposals with minimal deviation from the previous. 

This morning was the latest let down, as the NHL rejected another player proposal. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reports that following the meeting, Donald Fehr commented, "We have moved far more than half way. It's about as good as we can do." He went on to say that "on the big things, there was no reciprocity."

According to USA Today, Gary Bettman, on the other hand, said that while the players' proposals did have movement, the two sides "remain far apart." He concluded by saying,"To expect our best economic proposal to get better as damage continues to increase isn't particularly realistic. From the economic standpoint, we have given what we have to give. It was our best offer."

If these were honest statements, then neither offer would ever improve and a deal would never be reached.

That is obviously not the case. So are these comments just another example of an unwillingness to negotiate? Are the damages not enough to leave the PR spins and BS proposals at home and engage in meaningful negotiation? Both sides have more to give, so why not give it?

As fans, we are more inclined to side with the players during these times. After all, they are the ones who provide the entertainment. They are the reason we're willing to pay for jerseys and tickets. They are the reason we have invested in the game to make this a $3.3 billion business. But the players, despite what is told to the press and what we'd like to believe, are equally, if not more responsible, for this mess. 

So the question remains: Given the developments we've seen during the lockout and the movement from either side, who, if anyone, has shown a greater unwillingness to negotiate?

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