Hockey fans hoping that CBA negotiations could be resolved quickly were disheartened early this week when Donald Fehr described a "meaningful gulf" between the players and the owners. A few days later, another pretty important gulf has sprung up: with less than a month to go until the owners' September 15th deadline, the NHL and the NHLPA have still yet to agree on which proposal is the basis for their negotiations.
Anyone hoping the two sides are on their way towards bridging the gap had best be concerned, because it should be clear by now that, as it stands, they're building two separate bridges.
"I still remain hopeful that [the NHLPA's] proposal will remain the basis for discussion as we go forward," said Donald Fehr during a conference call Friday.
It's doubtful. Recall Gary Bettman's response to that proposal from earlier this week: "In terms of how we're looking at the world, and I say this on a broader sense as it relates to the game and the health and everything else, we're not on the same page."
In short, it's still unclear what the two sides are negotiating off of, and as a result, things continue to go slow. Fehr disclosed Friday that he and Bettman hadn't spoken since Wednesday.
(Yeesh. Can we please avoid any more long gaps without speaking? If the league wanted this negotiation managed by two people that never talk, they should have handed things over to my mother and I.)
Of course, Fehr made sure to point out how much busier he is. "One of the things that differentiates my job with Gary Bettman's is I have about 30 times the number of constituents I have to converse with than he does," he said.
It's never a good sign when instead of discussing the issues, the two sides are just puffing out their chests. The "No talking, just peacocking" approach to negotiations tends to lead to communication breakdowns.
But the two sides can't move on to Step 2 until they can agree on step 1, and Fehr made it clear Friday that the players won't have it be a reduction in player salaries and contract negotiating power.
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