If you could see me as I write this, you would see a look of disgust etched across my face coupled with a sad shaking of my head. At this point that’s all I really have left to offer after hearing that the attempt of mediators to broker a deal between the NHL and NHLPA has fallen apart.
Yet, as bad as the breakdown in the mediation process makes me feel, it has nothing on the anger that I have for the news that came next. It seems as if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed a meeting between the owners and the players with no NHLPA or NHL staff on hand.
Roll that around for a second and see if it passes the smell test. Don’t take too long—it doesn’t.
Sure, Bettman and his second in command, Bill Daly, can portray this proposed meeting as "a way to get a deal” or “something different,” and it is both of those things, but it is not of any benefit to the players. The reality of the situation is that this proposal is nothing but a thinly disguised way to break the players will and drive a wedge into the solidarity of the union.
The union represents every player in the NHL, not just the players that can get into that room with the owners and unless every player is present at this proposed meeting, the NHLPA has to turn the offer down. They have no choice.
If this were a one-on-one negotiation between a player and ownership trying to hammer out a contract and that player’s agent was failing, then by all means, fire the agent and get your own deal done. But with the varied interests of the players, there is no way they will not lose if they accept this offer.
The rookie player has a different mindset from the 20-year veteran, from the hardline pro-union player, from the player that just wants to get a paycheck. So while those factions are bickering about what they want to accept and what they don’t want to accept, the 30 NHL owners can lick their chops, salivating over the wounded animal that the NHLPA has become.
You know, all in the interest of getting a deal done, right?
Yes, I want to see hockey played this year and yes I want to see a deal get done, but there is no way that this attempt at soft union busting can be accepted.
With that being said, if the NHLPA does accept this meeting, they better leave all their valuables outside of that meeting room because they are going to have their pockets riffled through by the kindly owners sitting across from them smiling and hopefully not letting the players see their fangs.