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Well, at least there is the World Juniors..

  • I wanted to provide a space for people to talk about the World Juniors.

    I’m not going to pretend to know much about how the tournament will shake down. I haven’t watched many of these players this season – although I am interested to see how some of the young guys in the system do on a bigger stage.

    Anyway – chat away. I hope everyone has a great and safe holiday season.

  1. Bettman’s Staring at Checkmate

    Eric Engels
    Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT

    If you did your weekend reading, you’d know that all the respected hockey columnists have concluded the following:

    1. Both parties are too close to a deal to let the season crumble.

    2. The time is now to get that deal in order.

    And though you may not be willing to heed last week’s advice, that you not rush to cut the string optimism is hanging by, I’d still like to reinforce the message given the most recent development– that the NHL has canceled games through December 30th.

    Implications?

    1. The NHL has bought itself more time atop that hill Bill Daly was referring to before they take the eventual barrel roll to the bottom in early January, so that hockey may resume with what would likely be a maximum of 48 games/team.

    2. The NHL and NHLPA have their best opportunity between now and Christmas to save themselves a bit more revenue for all parties–negotiating the final elements of a new CBA in time for them to hold an abridged training camp and open up shop come January 1st.

    If I were a betting man, odds are in favor of the former.

    On logic and reason alone, the latter is a much more attractive option for us, and for them too!

    The way I see it, Fehr’s put Bettman in check, and there’s only a few more scrambles before it’s checkmate.

    So here are the pertinent questions:

    Will Donald Fehr and the players budge from their position of moving from no contract-limits to eight-year maximums for free agents?

    Can Bettman and the owners entice Fehr and the players to move a bit in their direction on that front?

    Can the wheels of compromise be greased by the NHLPA accepting a 10-year CBA? Will that be the ignition for the NHL to move a little lower down that hill they’re “prepared to die on”?

    Does the real negotiating only begin at the very last minute–which is now towards the end of the first week of January?

    Answer these questions any which way you want, there will be hockey when all is said and done.

    And for the first time in his reign as commissioner of the NHL, Bettman will not be able to claim a landslide victory. He’ll have achieved a 50-50 split–which was the most important part of his mandate in this fight, and he’ll have also put in place the mechanisms to dismember those cap-circumventing deals.

    He will not have broken the union as he’s masterfully done in the past. His party will concede more than it ever intended to in this negotiation, and the anger and vitriol will purely emanate from Bettman’s expectation management in this fight (or lack thereof). And worse than losing, he and the owners will have to consider the future implication of confidence the union has gained in its inevitable victory.

    But when this silly war ends, Bettman will have lost much more than what he did to Donald Fehr and the players. And the end of the line for him will come sooner than it would’ve had he achieved the way he had in previous labor negotiations. And if there’s one thing that will alleviate some of the great rage that’s boiled over through the last few months of non-hockey, it’ll be that. The sooner the better.

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