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Islanders/NHL Bits: Beating the Drums of Lockout

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Would you lock them out?
Would you lock them out?

And so this tired play advances to its next act. The NHL CBA buzz this past week focused on commissioner Gary Bettman re-iterating publicly that the NHL would not hold any further games under the current collective bargaining agreement which expires Sept. 15.

Granted, both sides speak with guarded optimism about getting something done before then, but anyone who has read the current CBA knows that is one complex (and ridiculous) document to negotiate and verbalize through an army of lawyers in the next 30 days or so. (It would be nice if it were finalized with a little more logic this time too, but alas.) The "gulf" is ominous.

To be clear, the NHLPA has long known the NHL wouldn't want to play next season under current rules, so while due diligence and rebuilding their competence was the right course for Donald Fehr, the PA certainly -- and smartly -- took their sweet old time getting to the table. Since the PA doesn't have a lot of leverage and has no interest in a stoppage, that was one of the few tactical tools at their disposal: Wait long enough to engage so that the process would carry to the deadline, and the NHL would (correctly) carry the mantle of "bad guy" this time around.

And they will be the bad guy. Because the NHL ownership is a wide, disparate group that doesn't sound seriously interested in meaningful concessions to help each other.

The NHLPA's first counterproposal is expected Tuesday, and odds are it will be just as extremely slanted to the players' interests as the NHL's initial proposal was slanted toward the few common interests of all 30 owners. Odds are the NHL is willing to sacrifice some time -- though you'd think not the Winter Classic -- so the PA will probably call their bluff.

And fans will pay.

Other, More Hockey-Like Things

Finally, this was shared again recently in this FanShot, so we'll give it one more mullet-admiring look: