Thursday, September 09, 2004

Non, Nyet, Zadna, Nej, Nie, Nein, Ei, NO!

Whatever language an NHLer may speak, the answer was still the same today. Bill Daly poured a huge bucket of cold water, on any thoughts of starting the NHL season on time; when he declared “We are extremely disappointed in what the Players union presented to us today.”

That after a four hour session that apparently solved nothing, hardened positions and set the stage for a lock out on September 15th. Trevor Linden speaking for the players said the players’ position was the “last chance to save the Hockey season.” That “position” was the first one presented to the league by the union since October of 2003. It called for a wage rollback of 5%, revenue sharing between clubs and a luxury tax system.

Bill Daly who has taken to speaking for the owners called the union’s proposal “recycled”. Rejecting it out of hand, he described it as a step backwards in the negotiations.

The sticking point, as it has been all along is the salary cap provision, which the league wants in place and the union rejects from the get go. No amount of fancy wording, is going to change that aspect of the dispute. It is the major hurdle in these negotiations and everytime it fails to be addressed, all discussion comes to a standstill.

The argument from the league is that too many of its teams are losing money and without a cap on salaries it is not feasible for some of their teams to keep operating, Daly said that even using the players associations’ model of economics, half the teams in the league would lose money, while one third of them would lose more than 10 million dollars. A situation the league feels is unacceptable.

The finger pointing and catcalling of the last couple of days will quiet down now, as the two sides return to their corners to plot further strategy or make other plans for the fall. But the sounds out of the NHL head office are ominous.

With no further talks scheduled “at the moment”, it would seem that all in the world of NHL hockey will come to a complete standstill almost as soon as the World Cup is handed out next Tuesday night. Wednesday, September 15th, may be one very long day for hockey fans everywhere!

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