Get on the phone, Gary

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Somebody needs to pick up the phone ... right now.

If there's going to be an end to the stalemate in the collective bargaining agreement talks, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman needs to call NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow.

Not a week from now. Not a day from now. Now.

The two sides haven't held any negotiations since Bettman rejected an offer from the NHLPA during a meeting Sept. 9 in Toronto.

Since then, their only exchanges have been potshots at each other through the media.

"I'm sure right now the NHLPA feels that the ball is in the league's court and Bettman is going to have to be the one to pick up the phone if there's going to be any progress in these talks," said a league source yesterday.

"I would say right now what we're dealing with is a dynamic that both sides have dug in their heels. Neither wants to be the one to make the first move because they don't want to show any signs of weakness. I guess they have to decide what won't be perceived as a sign of weakness."

This is all part of negotiating. Bettman and his chief lieutenant Bill Daly don't want Goodenow and his right-hand man Ted Saskin to feel the NHL is desperate.

$5 FOR SKATING

The Senators would have opened their season next Wednesday. That won't happen. So instead of being excited about opening against the Montreal Canadians, the Senators will charge a $5 entry fee on the weekend for public skating. That won't even cover the costs of turning on the lights.

With each passing day of the lockout, more games get cancelled.

The Senators have already lost eight games (home and away) and by this time next week, they'll have dropped another four.

Talk to anybody involved and they're frustrated. They can't stomach the fact these two sides haven't held any productive talks in 29 days and each hour passes with silence.

Something has got to give. Somebody must, in a brief moment of sanity, try to seek a resolution to the impasse.

"It's not going to be the union," said the source. "I'm sure they feel right now that they've made the last two proposals.

"They're probably in a situation where they're not going to negotiate against themselves. What would be the point in that?

"The union feels it has made enough compromises. Look, the NHL put its last offer on the table in the summer and they've done nothing since.

"I would think the league will probably bring something to the table at some point or another if they want to save the season. When will that be? My guess is that may come in November or December."

Can anybody stand the silence that long? Somebody is going to have to act for the good of the game to get talks going. Even the simple gesture of making a phone call. Anything.

CATASTROPHIC

Do they now know a prolonged absence could be catastrophic -- especially in the United States where some of the NHL's franchises are walking on eggshells? Sure, the owners have lost the money they make in the pre-season, but they won't really notice the cash missing until later this month.

As for the players, they wouldn't have received their first paycheque until Thursday.

Said the source: "The way I look at it is this way: What you have right now is two trains on different tracks. What they need to do is find a way to get these two trains on the same track by getting back to the negotiating table.

"The challenge is finding a way to do that. I'm sure the players are feeling right now that they've done enough to try to get the negotiations going.

"I guess now we'll find out if the league is ready to bring something else to the table."

Don't hold your breath waiting for the silence to end.


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