NHL Lockout: CBA Talks Break Down as League Rejects Latest NHLPA Proposal

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NHL Lockout: CBA Talks Break Down as League Rejects Latest NHLPA Proposal
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Gary Bettman

Donald Fehr spoke to the media on Thursday evening and discussed a CBA proposal made by the NHLPA that seemed like it could lead to a lockout-ending resolution. The league rejected the offer in just a matter of minutes, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there is no knowledge of when negotiations will resume. It's safe to say that this is the low point of the 2012 NHL lockout.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke to the media following Fehr's press conference, and they were visibly irate with the players' union. Here is some of what they told reporters (via LeBrun):

Bettman and Daly also talked about a number of other issues (via Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press).

When Fehr explained the union's proposal to the league, it sounded like a reasonable offer that could  result in a resolution. LeBrun has the details:

Finding a solution to the economic issues has always been a major obstacle for the two sides to overcome.  

Fehr's optimism on the economic issues being very close made the league's quick rejection of the union's proposal a bit surprising.

With "make whole" coming off the table, the players' hopes of saving anywhere close to the full value of their current contracts are quickly fading. This was a huge issue for the NHLPA, and now the league has gotten rid of it.

Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington pointed out another issue that the two sides just cannot agree on.

Bettman also explained why the league wanted such a long agreement (via Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports), and it's hard to disagree with him.

How critical of an issue are term limits for the league? According to Daly, it's a major one for the owners (via LeBrun).

The refusal from both sides to do what's right for the sport and close the gaps in the differences they have is embarrassing.

Could the players be thinking that the league really wants to play soon, and that the union can get a more favorable CBA offer closer to a possible deadline to save the season?

These tweets from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post and Bruce Arthur of the National Post raise some interesting questions.

If what Dater has reported is true, then we may know part of the reason why Bettman looked so angry at his press conference.

Could the NHL be the side that is the most willing to make a deal? It's certainly possible. It's hard to imagine Fehr giving up until he thinks his union has the absolute best proposal from the owners in front of them. The players clearly trust Fehr if they took this kind of advice from him.

Make no mistake, though, the players deserve an equal amount of the blame here. The union's unwillingness to accept contract term limits is absurd because the NBA and NFL players have them, and it hasn't hurt player salaries from rising over the last decade.

The players also shouldn't be fighting so hard to prevent a 10- or 8-year deal from being agreed to. The league needs a long agreement so its fans don't have to deal with this frustration time and time again.

It would be incredibly foolish to let the current gap between the NHL and NHLPA result in all December games being cancelled.

Yes, there are some differences that both sides are still unwilling to make small concessions on, and a few others where they are far apart, but they are too close to risk another season.

What's next?

We can expect that more games could be cancelled at some point in the next week or so. All games in December will likely be the next group of games to be lost.

However, there isn't a deadline for a CBA to save season yet (via LeBrun):

The week started with a good amount of optimism, but as we have seen so many times since this lockout started, the good vibes came crashing down in a hurry.

The best fans in sports don't deserve this situation. Unfortunately, no one should be surprised that the NHL has another season in danger of being lost because of a lockout.

How many fans and sponsors will the league drive away before they realize the amount of damage being done to the sport?

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