Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr can’t really be serious about staring each other down without moving their lips until the current CBA expires Saturday, can they? Well, can they?
Call me nuts – you wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last – but I’ve consistently said the past several weeks I believed both sides in the NHL labor impasse, Bettman and the owners in one camp and Fehr and the NHLPA rank and file in the other, wouldn’t risk postponing the start of the 2012-13 season because there’s just too much at stake.
With a bigger pie to split up than ever before and no obvious deal-breakers in terms of completely overhauling the system this time around like in 2004 with the insistence by owners they get a salary cap, I didn’t see any need for a stalemate that would put the scheduled start of the season at risk. Perhaps I overestimated the common sense factor.
With little or no meaningful progress last week, the sides did a drive-by at the bargaining table Friday, but it wasn’t much more than that. They didn’t meet for even a meaningful minute over the weekend and, as of writing this, there was no word of any scheduled meeting to start this week with the deadline looming.
If this is the obligatory stall-and-wait tactic to see which side blinks first and offers up a major concession, let’s just skip that and have Bettman and Fehr get down to the face-to-face stuff and the real numbers. The owners, after all, aren’t going fold – they’re looking for claw-backs in the revenue split despite getting almost everything they asked for last time. Now, they want (need?) further protection from themselves. Knuckleheads.
A little fiscal restraint since the lockout that cost us the 2004-05 season likely could have prevented this tick-tick-tick routine, but nooooooooooo. How much $$$ for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? How much for fill-in-name-here? Now, if the players don’t agree to cough up, what, a swing of five or six or seven percent in the old split Bettman will lock them out?
WHILE I’M AT IT . . .
I get it why the prospect of a delayed or shortened season is particularly frustrating for long-suffering fans of the Edmonton Oilers. Why wouldn’t it be? After six years out of the playoffs and bushel of kids looking ready to bust out and maybe push for a playoff spot, or at least play some meaningful games beyond January, we might just be getting started then?
I went to Spruce Grove Sunday morning to meet a fellow at a 7-Eleven. He was selling some used wheel dollies – I need them to move my 1960 Biscayne around my new glass shop this winter. When he called to set up the time and place to pick them up, the caller ID on my phone read: Brent Krahn.
I figured I might not only get my dollies, but a decent story about Krahn, the goaltender who was drafted ninth overall by the Calgary Flames in 2000 but, hobbled by injuries, went from prospect to suspect to, well, minor league oblivion. Krahn has one NHL game on his resume, and that came with Dallas in 2008-09.
Krahn was easily the biggest bust among the top 10 picks in the 2000 draft (this was Kevin Lowe’s first draft as Edmonton GM and the Oilers took the altogether forgettable plodding Traktor Boy Alexei Mikhnov), getting into just one game with the Flames.
Turns out it wasn’t THAT Brent Krahn. "I get that all the time," smiled the wrong Brent Krahn. I coughed up the money, took the dollies. No story.
AND . . .
I’m not sure if the draw will work out, but I’d like to to run up against Jason Gregor’s team (stacked no doubt, like his foursomes in golf tournaments) at Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer Sept. 22.
My guess is Gregor will load up with pals like Jason Strudwick and might do pretty well in the all-day event, in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. I’m thinking he’d wax my outfit – I’m playing on a team with Lyle Best, a big-time community-minded guy, a high-profile Oiler-backer and somebody who has been touched more than once by this terrible disease.
Win or lose, all I want is for my 54-year-old knees to avoid the need for a sixth surgical procedure and to raise a whole bunch of money for the cause. If you’d like to make a financial contribution to my campaign, you can do that HERE at the Road Hockey To Conquer Cancer website. If not me, then any team that is taking part. I can’t think of a better cause.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.