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:
#CBA Bettman accuses Fehr of using spin to make it appear 2 sides are closer than [where league feels] they are. "Incomprehensible".— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) December 7, 2012
And Bettman/Daly are frustrated Fehr said sides are close. PA's request for mediators earlier 2day seems to indicate Fehr knew they're not.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) December 7, 2012
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?