The NHL Lockout continues. And likely will, for a while.

For a day or two, it seemed like some hope was shining through the murky clouds of the NHL lockout.

That hope has been dashed. I now feel this is going to go on for a while. It doesn’t have to, but it will.

the NHL put out with a lot of publicity a new, improved proposal. It seemed finally one side had moved off its position enough for some serious negotiation to begin.

The two sides sat down. the NHLPA made some counter proposals working off of the NHL’s proposal. 

The NHL walked out. 

And cancelled games. 

Fan’s hopes plummeted. 

My bottom line: it continues to be the reality that there’s very little common ground for the two sides to negotiate to a final deal. The league’s position is that teams are losing money, and they will fix that by taking money away from the players. 

The player’s position is that there’s plenty of money if the owners just share among themselves more, but they are happy to be part of the solution to the problem of some teams losing money. Just not all of it. 

The League’s view is “take it or leave it”. 

The player’s view is “let’s see if we can find a way to make this happen, but what you want to happen isn’t going to happen”.

There is no “let’s just split this in the middle and start playing” position to find here. One side or the other has to abandon their position, which isn’t going to happen until there’s enough pain that they feel they have no choice.

This whole — charade — was really for the league to try to put the onus of public opinion on the players. The players were winning the PR war, and this was a game to try to change that. To some degree, it’s succeeded in the short term, although I don’t know if it’ll continue. The pro-player wing of the commentary/feedback PR group is quite effective (just watch twitter. between the players and the player-sympathetic media, they’re doing a good job of tearing down the NHL’s maneuver). The NHL is not as effective at controlling their message, and the pro-team side of the media/commentary group is much smaller and less enthusiastic. 

But the league made it clear it’s willing to wait out the players, and so I now don’t see an agreement coming any time soon. I don’t expect hockey until at least the end of November now, if then. This seems to have been the plan all along. Try to blame the players for the shutdown, not seriously look for common ground for a negotiated compromise, and keep pushing at the players to simply give the owners what they want or there will be no hockey. 

This isn’t a negotiation, it’s a game of “take it or leave it” by the owners. Right now, the players are (and, IMHO, should be) playing “leave it”, The players are at least trying to suggest options that might lead to serious negotiations, but even there, you have to wonder if it’s for real or whether they know they’ll get thrown out (or are designed to be thrown out), but make no bones about it, the primary reason for lack of progress on solving this lockout is that the owners don’t want to. They want capitulation, not negotiation.

If I were the league, I’d be worrying about winning the battle but losing the war. But they clearly aren’t, and they know more about this than I do. What I do know is that the league has made a big statement, and that statement is that it’s in no hurry to cut a deal, unless it’s the deal it’s demanding. There’s no real room for negotiation when one side is unwilling to realistically negotiate. 

Oh, well. Back to doing other things.