The good news right now for fans is the fact both the NHL and NHLPA are at least meeting and talking to each other. In 2004-2005 the two sides went for 3 months without speaking, the longest this time around has been roughly 2 weeks. The unfortunate news is the talks as of late have been focused on the "secondary issues" as neither side is willing to back down from their current proposal.
So what exactly is going on behind closed doors during these meetings? Thankfully my sources were able to pass on some important information from the last few meetings. Here's the just of how things went Monday when Bettman and Fehr got together with their posies.
9:00 a.m.- Let's be real they're not meeting as early as 9.
9:30 a.m.- Donald Fehr and 7 NHL players who have yet to leave for Europe arrive to the meeting a little early to discuss their strategy for today's meeting. Fehr opens with "Let me get this straight, if he's not willing to end the lockout and give the players more money by the end of today you'll be in Europe by tonight?" The Players respond will a resounding "Yes!" "Good what's Bettman going to do with no players?"
10:00 a.m.- Bill Daly shows up alone with a smug look on his face and a cup of coffee.
DF- "Where's Gary?!"
BD- "He's coming, had a rough sleep last night"
TP- "Is he finally feeling guilty about this whole lockout situation?"
BD- "No he couldn't figure out if he wants to cancel another 2 weeks or up it to 3 weeks." Followed by evil laughter.
10:30 a.m.- Gary Bettman finally arrives followed by 3 NHL owners with black eyes.
DF- "You're late Gary!"
GB- " Oh am I? I must have lost track of time. I was just discussing how the owners and I are unanimous about this lockout, isn't that right gentlemen?"
O- "Yes, we all agree."
DF- "Have you brought the files regarding how much revenue the league earned last season?"
GB- "You were serious about wanting to see that?"
GB- "I kid, I kid. I know I keep telling the public and the TV stations we made tons of money, but we actually lost money. Unless the players are willing to take a significant cut we refuse to continue CBA talks."
Sidney Crosby- "That's it Gary I've had enough of your crap, I'm heading to Europe. I hear the KHL is looking for superstars"
GB- "But Sid you can't go, you're my main money maker! Alright Fehr, have your side prepare a new proposal and submit it to the owners"
DF- "Sure thing, we'll have it to you in 2 weeks"
SC- "Make sure you include the clause that no one is aloud to hit me!"
11:30 a.m. After Bettman reiterates the fact the owners refuse to backdown from their current proposal and the NHLPA may submit another proposal as long as it is reasonable to what the NHL has submitted.
GB- "Well that's enough talking for the morning, why don't we break for an early lunch?"
DF- "But we haven't negotiated anything. We have a season to salvage Gary!"
GB- "Oh there's lots of time for negotiating. Besides no one really tunes into the NHL till late December anyways."
DF- "But Gary what about Canadian hockey...
GB- "Canadian hockey fans?"
BD- "Time to break for lunch"
Bettman jumps up from his seat and heads towards the door followed by the 3 owners and Daly, the quickly vanish out of the building. The players and Fehr remain in the boardroom as the players begin to call their agents to look for teams overseas.
DF- "So are you guys finally ready to accept a smaller piece of the pie?" "Or how about accepting the leagues last offer, it seemed pretty fair"
Dustin Byfuglien- "Did someone say pie?!"
TP- "Go away Byf. Remember Don, you work for us. Whatever we want you said you would be committed to getting. We want a bigger share of the pie and longer contracts.
DF- "Fine, fine I'll make up a new proposal. But this isn't going to get us back playing anytime soon."
TP- "There's the KHL and other markets in Europe, we're not worried."
1:00 p.m. Gary and Bill both return from lunch without the any owners.
DF- " Where's the owners Gary?"
GB- "The owners only need to be present if we're "negotiating" a new CBA. Since the players refuse to accept our offer we're not negotiating today. Now on to the topic for today: Player safety, NHL rules and players commitment to pre-season.
TP- "Wait what do you mean we're not negotiating today? We could sign deals in Europe tonight, how are you going to play without us?"
GB- "Oh I'm glad you brought that up. If the players refuse to come to terms with the fact we the owners will win these negotiations and are still holding out by the end of November, the NHL is fully committed to moving forward with replacement players."
TP- " You're going to attempt to replace us? With who?"
GB- "I don't have to attempt to replace you, I will. There are several AHL players who would love their shot to play in the NHL, and how about all the European players jobs you guys are taking? I'm sure they need a place to play.
TP- "Good luck getting the fans out!"
GB- "The fans are dumb enough to come out and support the AHL players as long as they're wearing NHL jersey's"
2:00 p.m. Gary swiftly changes the talks play safety
GB- "With the rise of concussions, we need to address player safety. Let's bring in Brendan Shanahan"
BS- "The game is so fast it's getting harder and harder to tell if a hit was clean or not"
GB- " If it's a big time player or a rich team's player, it's a clean hit. If it's someone no one has heard of before it's dirty"
SC- " Anyone who hit's me should get an automatic 20 games!"
GB- "Calm down Sid, just send Matt Cooke after them."
GB- "Any thoughts Don?"
DF- "Make the equipment smaller?"
GB- "Naw that won't fix anything, guess there really isn't an answer to this problem"
3:00 p.m. The two sides talk about more secondary issues like medical care, drug testing and player grievances.
GB- "Well that should do it for today's meeting, any last thoughts Don?"
The players quickly surround Fehr and discuss things in a little huddle. After 10 minutes they break the huddle.
TP- "Tell him Don!"
DF- "I suggest we get rid of the Salary cap..."
GB- " Hahahahahahahahahaha. Wait you were serious? You do realize we sacrificed the whole 2004-2005 season in order to get a salary cap right?"
4:30- Bettman decides the meetings for the day are complete and leaves the room with Bill.
There you have it folks, an inside look at the NHL CBA talks. Will we see an end to this madness soon?