From the very start of the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players Association, it was very clear that both sides were prepared to extend the lockout as long as they’d need to get what they wanted.
With each side posturing for a long fight since Day 1, there was never any real chance for a resolution in this case.
The NHL has now cancelled games through January 14 (h/t Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com), and the league is dancing the fine line between starting a partial season or cancelling it all together.
Now that the NHLPA is dissolving the union in order to become a trade association (h/t Ira Podell of the Associated Press), the players will be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL and turn this into a legal issue for the league.
The problem in this case is that this action is coming too late to save the season.
There are roughly three weeks before what many are calling a drop-dead date for a complete season cancellation (h/t Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports), and the chances of this case finding a resolution in the court system before that time is almost non-existent.
Both sides were ready for a lost season and they appear to be less than a month from losing two regular seasons in less than a decade; it’s an absolute mockery of the fans that support the brand.
As the people that continue to support the league grow more and more irritated by the actions of the NHL and the players association, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told ESPN about the lack of discussions going on:
We have to find a way to have discussions because it's very hard to come to an agreement if you're not talking to one another. It's very hard to come to an agreement if you set pre-conditions to the negotiations, too.
While the lockout itself—the complete absence of hockey—has been hard enough to deal with, the fact that the sides aren’t doing everything in their power to get a season started proves that the fanbase that supports them really has no bearing on the decision making.
The NHL fans’ money will be there when the league is ready and they know it. The season is doomed.
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