Thursday, September 02, 2004

Joy on the Ice, Venom in the boardroom

While the hockey fans of the world enjoy some entertaining play on the ice, a more serious game is heading close to the final minute of play, with seemingly no chance of a breakthrough expected. The Labour discussions between the NHL and the NHLPA continued in Montreal on Wednesday, but by the end of business Wednesday night neither side was talking nor giving much in the way of positive vibes. Neither side seems interested in accomodation and positions seem to be hardening rather than easing off.

The two sides meet again on Thursday, but many observers feel that it’s all just a tiresome charade now, the two sides resigned and prepared to take their hard drawn battle lines right to the September 15th deadline and much further beyond.

The consensus of the labor observers in this dispute is that both sides are prepared for a lengthy lock out, as the owners will cancel the season and let the chips and failed franchises fall where they might. Part of the plan for the league members is to have the stronger teams carry the weaker sisters through the winter and into the spring if necessary to provide “cost certainty” to a recalcitrant work force. With the two lead negotiators spending as much time dismissing each others serious interest in solving the problems, the chances of a joining of hands and a sing along of victory songs seems rather remote.

As they prepare to paint the players as greedy and not interested in the good of the game, the owners are willing to gamble that the public will land on their side of the great debate.

As Team Canada marches on through the tourney, the clock is running down on any hope for a breakthrough to salvage the season. As the World Cup teams continue their marches towards a championship, they may find that this short burst of intense action will be all that the players see for a rather long time.

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