Approaching the Abyss

After two days of discussions, the NHL and NHLPA have broken off further talks along with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Both sides met this week with the third party to find some common ground on negotiations that have stalled out surrounding key issues. However, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said this afternoon that, “the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time.”

Simply put, the NHL and NHLPA cannot trust each other at this time.

Following last week’s negations where the owners said “Thanks, but no thanks” to the players recent offer- which included concessions in the owners favor- Donald Fehr did not sound confident of the next course of action.

Here is Fehr’s statement from today following mediation breaking off:

“Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS. This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.”

Whether the division is around $182 million or $1 billion a part, it’s appears to be a gap neither side wishes chance a leap of faith. Sadly, that same faith is quickly fading amongst the remaining legion of fans around the league.

Here’s the situation: It’s Day 75 of the NHL Lockout. Games up to the middle of December have been canceled, along with the All-Star Game and Winter Classic. What’s left of the 2012-2013 schedule will continue to get lean until the possible kill date of the entire year.

Where do we go from here?

They’ve tried the method of locking themselves in the room until a deal is reached. Four days later, that failed.

Proposals were thrown at one another like a game of play-doh hot potato earlier in the fall. Both sides crafted terms based off their own language throughout the negotiation process, not paying any mind to the other side until recently.

Is Decertification the only option left (for the NHLPA)? Should they follow through and take this strife to court, does it cause the NHL to stop its freefall against the cold, hard ground of rock bottom?

Sadly, it’s a path that is now in sight. What was thought of as a last resort seems to be the only road left available.

Regardless of the negativity, there is some hope. In recent weeks, there is reason to believe both sides have had enough name calling and unsettling talks. Those wonderful behind the scenes sources on twitter have detailed restlessness on both sides. At the end of the day, both sides want to play hockey. Remember, negotiations back in 2004-2005 were null until the season was already lost. At least both sides this time have been in contact on an almost daily basis.

The frustration is evident, yet neither the NHL nor NHLPA will accept defeat this time around.

Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are under the gun to achieve total victory for their representatives. Somewhere in that shuffle, the fans were lost, along with the phrase compromise. Seen as a weak term these days, it is the solution and purpose to negotiations. You have to give something to get something. There’s signs of that happening already, but it has to be a conjoined compromise at the end of the day.

The line in the sand has been crossed so many times. Players and owners are running out of time and maneuverability to save the season. At some point, something has to click in their minds that a certain date in the future is going to determine whether we will have hockey or not this year.

It’s only a matter of time before they reach the final boundary: the abyss. The league was fortunate to escape it once before. It might not have enough to do it again.

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Filed Under: NHL

About the Author: Sports Reporter by day, puck stopper between the pipes at night. I was the Locker Room Reporter for the Islanders for WRHU-FM. Currently, I cover the New Jersey Devils on HockeyIndependent.com and Metro Area Hockey on BrooklynFans.com Follow me on Twitter @John_A_Iadevaia

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