If you follow me on twitter or have read some of my latest articles, you know that I have always been fairly optimistic about these CBA negotiations. Even when the NHL "cancelled" the Winter Classic and fans instantly fled to twitter to share their despair about the season, I was still holding hope that we would see hockey. Finally this weekend the NHL gave me a reason to legitimately be optimistic about seeing some hockey this season. If you saw my article yesterday, I explained my optimism. Although it sounds weird, I'm perfectly happy with the silence coming from the two sides as it means we're inching closer to getting a deal done and some NHL hockey back.
Don't fret hockey fans, there is reason to be optimistic about seeing some NHL hockey in the near future and that optimism comes from silence. The two sides met for a marathon meeting on Saturday that lasted until the wee hours of Sunday and then had a 7 hour meeting on Tuesday and are again expected to meet on Wednesday. The best news that has come from these meetings is the fact there hasn't been any news or rumours leaked to the media, immediately following the meetings.
3 Reasons I'm optimistic that we'll see hockey by December.
1. Media Games Have Finished
With a debacle as big as the CBA negotiations there's always a third side in the matter, the fans. Through the media the two sides have been firing missiles at each other in an attempt to win fan support, just in case the lockout lasts the full season. But the mind games with the fans are just maddening; through the wild circus I've gone from full support for the players, to the owners side to just get a stinkin' deal done! Judging from twitter most fans are now on board with the later side and just want to see some hockey, who cares who's responsible? It's come to the point that if there is a full season lockout, both sides are likely to shoulder the blame from the fans for the loss as both are equally responsible for this avoidable lockout.
Now that the two sides are negotiating strictly between themselves, and aren't posting their proposals online, they can finally begin to seriously talk about the issues. They've put down their guns and have decided that firing shots at each other isn't going to solve anything, about time! Now that the media is getting little to no information about the meetings, its a sign that both sides are making a serious attempt to come to terms on a new CBA and don't want the media to ruin these discussions. The less information leaked the better the negotiations are going. Although we may not enjoy the silent treatment we're receiving, it's key to ending this lockout and getting the game we all love back. The less we hear the better things are going.
2. Bill Daly Stepping Up
There hasn't been much of anything guaranteed or made known to the fans during this lockout. We've been told both sides want to get a deal done and we've seen player after player jump ship to go play overseas. But one thing that has been constant and portrayed to the fans, is the players hate and resentment towards Gary Bettman. The fact they dislike him so much is the driving force behind the NHLPA and has actually worked to unite the players. As dangerous as it may be this may be the most powerful and unanimous players association the NHL has ever come up against, the fact they have Donald Fehr heading things up sure as heck doesn't help matters.
With Bettman directly heading up the NHL and presenting ideas to the players, things haven't gone well and the players have been almost determined to turn down any deal Bettman presents unless it's clear cut the players are getting the better deal. Finally the NHL has seen the light and has taken Bettman out of the direct spotlight and have replaced him with Bill Daly. The marathon meeting on Saturday and the meeting on Tuesday were both headed up by Daly, instead of Bettman, and as a result there was much less hostility between the two sides. They actually sat down, managed to discuss the issues and have a negotiation. Imagine that. The key to calming the players down and getting them to agree on a new reasonable CBA is as little Bettman as possible, as long as Daly is running interference the two sides are able to talk and have no need to run crying to the media.
3. The Owners
The current owners involved in these discussions are not the same owners from the 2004-2005 lockout. What I mean by that, is that these owners are not ready and willing to sacrifice a whole season like they were willing too last time. For some their teams simply cant' afford to miss a whole season for any reason, let alone because Bettman refuses to lose. Teams like Phoenix and Florida have far too much at risk, to have a whole season go by without any NHL action. These owners know that a whole season without hockey isn't going to fly like it did last time as things are different this time around in the eyes of the public. Due to the fact the owners are not willing to sacrifice a whole season, they're not going to let Bettman get away with goofing off during these negotiations and as a result what we are seeing right now between the two sides is because of pressure from the owners on Bettman to get a deal done. If we see the NHL cave, you can thank the owners.
The last reason I'm optimistic about the two sides possibly getting a deal done is the silence. Think about, right before any large storm there is quite and the same thing took place right before both the NBA and NFL ended their respective lockouts. Right before deals were reached the media was fed very little information and then bam, the two sides had agreed on a deal. Hopefully the NHL will follow suit and this long painful silence will indeed be worth it, but judging on the past, the NHL seems to heading down the right path towards ending the lockout. This next two weeks are crucial to determining if a deal will be reached, so expect to hear very little from the either side down the stretch. If it's still quite near US Thanksgiving, there's a great chance we'll see hockey in December, as long as the next two weeks go smoothly there's a chance.
Now you know why I'm optimistic about the NHL, why are you optimistic or are still being skeptic?