Saturday, August 28, 2004

A game of “charades” reaches the boiling point

For two sides that had planned on keeping a low profile during the World Cup of hockey, negotiators for the NHL and NHLPA have a funny concept of staying quiet.

The rancour of the most recent discussions, was dumped out into the media on Friday, as the NHL’s Executive Vice President Bill Daly blasted the NHLPA for “engaging in a charade”. Daly apparently at the point of total frustration voiced the opinion; “that the players association has no intention of bargaining in good faith towards any kind of agreement”. Daly looked into a crystal ball and predicted that the Union would come up with a “last ditch” window dressed idea just before the deadline, which would apparently be rejected sending us into a lock out situation.

The NHLPA for its side, issued its own release afterwards, suggesting that Mr. Daly’s outburst was the result of the realization that the league’s wish for a hard salary cap was not going to be met with anything resembling acceptance.

In addition to the rebuttal to Mr. Daly, the union has also provided an advisory to its members that the possibility of a labour disruption lasting the entire season is very real.

Daly’s suggestion that the players wished to force a lockout so as to win public support was dismissed by the unions as mere grandstanding. The players bargaining team stating that any such plan would be ludicrous.

The outburst of course does not bode well for any constructive bargaining between now and the deadline of September 15th. The two sides are slated to meet again next week in Montreal as the World Cup gets under way, but it seems hard to fathom how they can sit in the same city, let alone same hotel room considering the animosity that seems to be bubbling up.

Perhaps with a weekend to cool off, saner heads will return to the table on Monday, but judging by the accusations flying around publicly, the atmosphere around the table is probably not going to be conducive to any quick breathroughs.

No comments: