As you read in today's paper or on the Wild page, what was thought (or hoped) as progress earlier yesterday when the NHL and NHLPA exchanged proposals during a 2 1/2 hour meeting in New York disintegrated quickly.
With over 270 players including the Wild's Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Ryan Suter and Darroll Powe in New York to begin two days worth of player meetings, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr essentially called the latest NHL proposal another means to grab money from the players pockets.
Lots of numbers were thrown out there by both sides, but seeing the NHLPA dismiss the NHL's proposals even as the league has inched closer to the middle ground in terms of splitting revenues has crystalized the chief reason there will be a lockout Saturday at 11 p.m. CT
The league's owners want to immediately reduce the salaries they are paying players and the players aren't willing to accept anything less than what they are contracted to receive.
Understandable. Of course, once there's a lockout, they'll be receiving a whole lot less than what they were contracted to receive and will never get that money back. So where this ends at this point and how much damage these two sides do to this growing sport is anybody's guess.
Commissioner Gary Bettman made it crystal clear yesterday that the NHL proposal was meant to kickstart negotiations on the core economics the PA has not moved on since its Aug. 14 proposal and if there's no deal to be made before Saturday night, this offer is off the table and will only worsen as greater damage is done to league revenue.
Remember also, these sides haven't even come close to addressing on the many other nuiances of the original NHL proposal in July, which include limited contract terms, the decelaration of free agency and the abolishment of salary arbitration.
So, we are a long ways from this ending. Brace yourself for a lockout.
The players will finish their meetings in New York today. The league will hold a somewhat short Board of Governors meeting in New York, where Bettman will update the board on bargaining. Wild owner Craig Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher are there. Bettman already has authority to lock out the players Saturday night and the board, no doubt, will try to display it's as unified as the players.
The players will come home. The board will come home. The lockout begins Saturday night.
And the fans will have no hockey for the foreseeable future.
Quite amazing for a $3.3 billion business.
If you want to see the core of what's being fought over, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle does another tremendous job explaining the numbers plainly.