Rangers fans, lacking guidance, wander aimlessly around New York. - Allison Joyce

The final, scripted chapters of the NHL Lockout Part III?

The NHL lockout will end someday. Possibly this month. Maybe Tuesday's "cautious optimism" is even a sign of progress. Follow the updates if you dare.

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9 Total Updates since December 5, 2012
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  • Updates 6
  • Articles 3
  • All Updates 9

Lockout Lit: Lanny Chayefsky's "Bettwork"

Lanny Chayefsky's searing exposé of the National Hockey League shows the ruthlessness of collective bargaining through the prism of commissioner Gary Bettman's shocking and unexpected descent into madness. The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Bill Daly) and Best Set Design (podium or lectern).


CBA: Oh look, Bettman and Fehr are pissed again

And here comes the swing of the pendulum in this week's NHL CBA negotiations:

NHLPA Donald Fehr is back in the negotiating picture, saying the sides are "close," which irked commissioner Gary Bettman enough to leave a voicemail rejecting their proposal as Fehr spoke to media. Bettman either thinks Fehr is up to age-old negotiating tricks again or is simply engaging in gamesmanship himself.

The NHL feels, with revenues for this season slipping and faith from sponsors dwindling, that their "concessions" (off their original positions) this week are plenty. The NHLPA probably feels for the first time in this process they actually have a partner willing to give something, so they'd like to take the opportunity to get a little more.

And we're left with this:

and this:

So mommy and daddy are acting like children again, under the guise of being tough-and-tested negotiators, while the season gets evermore absurdly short.

...which sounds all horrible and ominous, but all observers would be foolish to think this week would suddenly pave the way to a swift consummation of a deal. Even as the owners issue histrionic statements tonight -- they're supposedly pulling their offers off the table now -- and the NHLPA requests a return to federal mediation, this joke process will resume soon.

Funny how, had it continued two months ago, we'd be well into a nice sponsor-pleasing season right now, eh?


Lockout: More meetings, no specifics for the Board

After "marathon" meetings Tuesday, the Fehr- and Bettman-less NHL owners and players groups agreed to meet Wednesday morning to continue negotiations.

Scratch that. They decided to push new meetings back until the afternoon, after the NHL Board of Governors meetings had concluded.

Not surprisingly, owner-friendly former Columbus GM Doug MacLean -- who is like the Mike Milbury of Blue Jackets franchise history -- took that delay to mean the players had screwed up or something:

MacLean vented on Sportsnet's Hockey Central, as transcribed at Cult of Hockey:

"When you finish at 12:30 last night, and we’ve been locked out for 80 days, can you not stay up for another hour and half and work on a proposal and pass it in at 9 (a.m.) like you said you were going to do. Is that that complicated?"

This courageous desire to make key decisions on three hours of sleep may explain much of MacLean's tenure in Columbus.

(Seriously, especially for you college kids nearing finals and end-of-semester pressure and decisions, like whether to extend your girlfriend through the holiday break: Don't make big decisions on little sleep. Just don't do it. Financial, emotional, professional -- whatever it is, there's a reason "sleep on it" is a phrase in many languages.)

Anyway, there are all kinds of rumors floating around about imminent progress and the commissioner "wanting a deal by Friday" (which is both comical and tragic in one fell stomach punch, given the months of posturing that made October and November disappear). There were also solid reports from solid reporters stuck with the merciless task of squeezing thoughts from pissed off sources.

You can read these upticks in rumors as signs of progress, or as signs of the normal flow of a lockout (yes, lockouts are now "normal") as it approaches the time where clearly the league must stop posturing if it has sincere interest in holding a 2012-13 season. Alright, fine, you can also read them both ways simultaneously.

At any rate, meetings shall resume, and may well get uncomfortable:

Players shall practice harder, embracing optimism. (Aside: Erik Johnson is optimistic about talks, so he goes down to block a shot in pick-up? That method is ... unsound.)

Bettman shall Respect The Process, and spare us the posturing. Today at least:

And in a truly interesting note, the BOG wasn't even given specifics on the status of talks, lest they squash them because that's what owners do:

Meanwhile, if you want to get truly ahead of yourself and fill your January-April plans with many four-games-per-week weeks, there was this:

What a sham, if they can't even play a 60-game season.

But whatever. We figure our readers have lockout fatigue, which is why we've let up considerably on lockout coverage the last month or so. (Not that there's been much of anything to relay.) Alas, now we're approaching the ritual climax, so expect a few more updates in this stream and in the coming weeks -- though we don't intend to ruin our holidays chasing lockout standoff reports.

The season will probably happen some time, in some bastardized form. If you're interested in the hourly turns of how they get there, stay tuned. Otherwise, Bridgeport plays tonight.

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