Wednesday, February 16, 2005

One more shot of Novocaine please

Finally our time in the dental chair of Drs. Bettman and Goodenow may finally be ending. This never ending root canal we've endured under their less than steady hand, soon to be but a distant throbbing in our gumline.

As our two surgeons bickered while we were trapped in the chair we've learned a few interesting things, one never doesn't necessarily mean NEVER, and math is still A topic of controversy when the two teeth pullers get together.

The "deadline" is set, (then again maybe not) for 1 pm EST, 10am PST when Dr. Bettman will finally lower the chair and tell us to go home, floss regularly and come on back for a check up in six months or so. Then again he may say, check back with us in two weeks for our special on cleaning and polishing!

The two sides are still a few million apart, the NHLPA sticking to a decision that a 49 million dollar cap is livable (so much for never surrender), the NHL seeking to reduce things by another 6.5 million or so (hmm, should Edmonton start packing? last we heard they needed a cap in the low thirties to survive!).

The final correspondences from Gary and Bob (well as final as things seem to be with these two guys) expressing that no more concessions are coming, the 6.5 million dollars the possible breaking point in this lengthy and apparently now pointless charade of negotiating.

Players are asking questions amongst themselves about how if a cap is now a cause for acceptance, why things weren't moved forward months (and many lost dollars) ago? Small market owners may be wondering whatever happened to the hard cap and linkage to cost certainty? That holy grail of the small and struggling.

Even as late as this last hour of negotiating (if that is what this has been!), the NHL's gatherer of financial facts Mr. Arthur Levitt has popped up to say that the league could survive even the embarrassment of a cancelled season. Perhaps his contribution is a sign to the owners that they need not back down now, there may be more blood to gain yet!

All will wait for Dr. Bettman to take to his stage on Wednesday and offer up a final prognosis. And finally we can either pick up our pom poms and cheer on our boys or turn our backs and say see ya next year, maybe. By 10 am PST tomorrow finally the game will be turned back over to the fans, then we can make our own statements, our own judgments.

For most this root canal type of slow motion posturing leaves us numb and sore, it may be a while before we schedule our next appointment at the Bettman/Goodenow Clinic of Pain!

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