SUN Hockey Pool

Another false alarm

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

CALGARY -- False alarm. Stand down.

Please return to your normal life.

Resume bashing the over-paid players and everybody else on your list of evil entities.

Resume dumping on the only pro sport in North America to lose an entire season and then, three days later, create hope, only to pull the carpet from under its fans again.

The cancelled, supposedly about-to-be un-cancelled NHL season has been re-cancelled.

There was no New York accord. Just another day to bring false hope to hockey fans, only to whack them on the head with a goal stick again. Just more reason for the fans to trash the game - which is more than a game in Canada, but may never be the same.

Maybe the worst of this is that somehow somebody even managed to involve the two previously pure names in the game - Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux - by marching them into hockey's Little Big Horn on white horses, only to ride away on a sow.

LOTS OF RIDICULE TO GO AROUND

Today there's even more reason to ridicule everybody in sight for what has happened - and that includes the Canadian hockey media for some seriously bad scoops. Not the least of which was the reporting of a deal in principle having been achieved Friday evening.

After 6 1/2 hours of meetings, it was back to where it was in September, December and early February.

"It was revealed there remains to be significant differences which need to be discussed and resolved. No new proposals will be made by either side,'' said NHL VP Bill Daley.

Ted Saskin offered even more hope that they won't go back and try to save the season again.

"This season was cancelled on Wednesday and is certain not to be reselected after today,'' said the senior director of the NHLPA.

"It's 100% certain coming out of today that nothing could impact the cancellation of the season.

"I can't see anything worse than what they put on the table today.''

Added Colorado's Vincent Damphousse, a union vice-president: "When we saw more details on their offer, we realized it was much worse than we thought."

Gretzky and Lemieux limited their comments to a brief statement:

"Mario and I were happy to be part of the process and everyone seemed to work very hard together. We had a constructive meeting and we only hope they will continue meeting for the betterment of the NHL and its fans," said Gretzky.

Added Lemieux: "I hope all parties continue talking and come to a solution for the betterment of the game. I certainly appreciate the work Gary and Bill have done a lot more, now that I have been part of one of these sessions."

The bottom line is that everything goes back to the way it was, except worse.

Except in Edmonton and small-market NHL cities where the concept of being able to ice competitive teams and keep players past the age of 31 is a big part of what this is supposed to be all about.

Maybe somebody will try to rally another run at saving the season. I hope not. It's seriously beyond saving now. And to play a 20-game schedule or some-such after this would probably do more damage that good.

I honestly don't think fans, who are able to remove themselves of the emotion, honestly want the quick fix.

JUST GET THE GAME FIXED

I believe they're more than willing to give up their hockey fix, their Stanley Cup playoff pools and everything else involved in the culture of hockey to get the game fixed.

The two sides should go back to meeting, but not to talk about money, for a month or more. Spend the next couple of months working together to make the game itself better.

There's a lot involved in a collective bargaining agreement, including playing in the Olympics, which can be settled before they get back to talking about money again.

In many ways I think what has happened here is healthy. Even what happened with the false alarm this weekend.

Hockey people, who for some reason think the fans will come back like trained pigs, received a double dose of reality when polls showed the majority of fans didn't care and/or didn't want NHL hockey back this year after what they've been put through.

On. Off. On. Puck on? Puck off!


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