And The Winds Begin To Howl

You know what? I'm tired of putting pictures up of Bettman and Fehr. So I'm not going to do it any more.

As you've probably gathered from the Twitter-sphere, the first true strike of an upcoming nuclear winter seemed like it came today. Donald Fehr emerged from the bunker where the NHL runs things to say that talks have broken off, and Gary Bettman replied with quotes basically saying that there won't be a deal until the players start bending over. Of course, Fehr has made it pretty clear they won't be doing that any time soon. Talks are now off through the weekend, without a set date for a return to them.

There's only two weeks now until the CBA runs out, where we'll get to the real truth. Expect lots of things to change if the padlocks go on the gates. The owners' proposals will alter because of a lack of income, and the player resolve once they start missing checks in October will get a test. That's what did in the unions of the NFL and NBA.

Let me begin commentary by saying I'm growing weary of the constant and lazy refrain that everyone in this is a millionaire and why should it matter what the CBA is? That's too simple. You can sit there and say you wouldn't care if you made $4 million or $3 million if you were playing hockey for a living. But the world looks very different when you're actually making that money. And I doubt you'd greet the idea of having your income cut by possibly millions simply so your owner can pocket it with a smile. A loss of income is loss of income, no matter the size.

While Gary Bettman has placed a pretty strong gag order on all the owners, he may want to curtail their actions. It's hard to cry poor and a broken system when Edmonton, one of the smaller markets in the league with an outdated building (so they say), are locking up two of their young stars to over five-year contracts. How's that any different from actually speaking of the divisions among the owners? It seems like they're there.

It's the same old song and dance. The owners can change the language or substitute this number for that one, but they're simply asking for the players to cough up cash because of a system they implemented. They implemented a salary floor which has inflated salaries for a lot of players. They created the loopholes that they take advantage of. It's pretty infuriating.

But now there's a real adult across the table from them. It's not a ragtag bunch of Canadian farmboys trying to find reverse on a soviet tank. He's already torched them in the PR war, which sounds like it's starting to matter more than I thought it would.

And this isn't 2004, where a lot of teams were better off not playing than playing. Sure, they can hold out longer, but the owners aren't much better at seeing past their next balance sheet than the players are. Yeah, they might get to October, or even November, without gate receipts and such. But when they have to start refunding season ticket money, when the merchandise isn't flying off the shelves, I bet you start to hear some teams barking at Bettman. That's what I'm clinging to at least.

Anyway, this is your weekend thread. Enjoy it.