Players expecting to lose entire season
Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency
|Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League leaves the podium after addressing the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP
Monday is Day 9 of Lockout 3.0 and while there will be a meeting between the NHL and the NHL Players Association at the league offices in Toronto, it's to go over old ground, not new.
The two sides will gather to break down and confirm the amount of last season's hockey-related revenues, which no doubt has quickly become one of the most tiresome and despised phrases of this most recent owners' lockout.
There is still no reason for even a tiny shard of optimism to poke a hole in the cloud that has descended on the situation.
Apart from the regularly-scheduled programming Monday, it's remotely possible the two sides could talk and decide to meet for a formal negotiating session. Talks broke off Sept. 12 after the NHL made the last counterpropsal. Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, would probably preclude any talks Tuesday or Wednesday.
In an informal poll of parties on both sides of the divide Sunday -- it's appreciated that some of the parties who responded tore themselves away from the NFL action -- there was nothing but pessimism and dire predictions.
A feeling in the players' camp is that it is a foregone conclusion this season will be lost to the lockout.
"Question now is what happens the following year?" texted one respondent on the players' side.
Has it gotten that bad, this fast?
One source said early last week the next week to 10 days would be critical to determining the length of this lockout.
Well, here we a week later and the only developments have been negative: comments by Detroit Red Wings vice-president Jimmy Devellano comparing the players to cattle certainly only served to crystalize the the players' perception of the owners and make the Red Wings $250,000 poorer.
Devellano said the owners weren't going to be pushed around by any union.
That's only served to crank up the solidarity on the players' side.
There shouldn't have been any question about the players' unity, not this early in the process and not even in light in a number of their "union" brothers heading off to Europe to ply their trade while their comrades back home do their best Mr. Mom.
Don't expect the players to waver any time soon.
Don't forget that though the public memory is the players finally caved in and took a salary cap the last time around after missing the entire 2004-05 season, the players remember it a different way.
They feel like the deal they were offered at the beginning of the process wasn't anything like what they finally accepted, so history has apparently taught them hanging tight is worth it.
"Contrary to what public opinion is, we sat out 17 months but the deal we got was not the deal we had when we started. Everyone thinks we lost in that negotiation and we wasted a year. When we started the process, the offer was $30 million hard cap and that's not the system we're in now," said Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke during a recent conversation.
"We feel it was a huge success. Whatever it takes, we need to get a fair deal and something that is going to fix the system so we're not in this process in another three years or five years or six years down the road."
The scary thing about that is there are probably a lot of owners feeling the same way, that losing a season was worth it because they got a salary cap, even though they say now there's too much salary and not enough cap.
That's a bad combination, the kind of combination that led to Sunday's pessimism.