It's starting to get ugly, and it will soon get nasty: The NHL owners and NHLPA, already suspicious of one another's objectives and unwilling to bend to the others' needs to save the season, are heading full speed toward a lockout.
With that comes an escalation in rhetoric, as each side tries to outspin the other and, in some case, just piss them off. To review the last 24 hours:
Bill Daly is questioning the union's agenda and swatting Fehrs after a silent weekend, the NHLPA is trying diversionary labo(u)r board maneuvers in Quebec and Alberta, the union had a PR misstep when they put Josh Gorges on the call to discuss the Quebec action, and in a sign of things to come, always-vocal player agent Allan Walsh is yammering on Twitter as if he speaks for fans (and as if it would matter).
In the delightful absurdity of sports "labor" wars, you can argue who went to the bottom first: The players, for waiting so long to come to the table this summer (no doubt out of fear/mistrust that the league was hellbent on a lockout) or the owners, whose initial proposal was so downright absurd (no doubt out of fear the players were stalling to force the owners to make the first misstep).
Either way (or both ways...great read from Bob McKenzie), it's comical and sad, both sides trying to outbluff the other in a downward spiral of distrust that will put another scuff in the sheen of a league that somehow recovered after it last had a yearlong pissing match. This week will bring posturing and meetings of players and owners (separately) as each side prepares its logistics and escalated PR spin in advance of the now inevitable lockout.
Around here, as this saga escalates and drones on, we'll be looking back at times when hockey just felt like hockey.