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Cautious Optimism Leads to Complete Breakdown of NHL Talks

After standing shoulder to shoulder earlier last week, the NHL and the NHLPA both made it seem as though a deal was pretty much done; it was just a matter of tweaking at this point. Then two days later, after the NHLPA rejected the latest proposal from the NHL, all hockey heck broke lose. When Gary Bettman then used a press conference as an opportunity to completely tear the players’ association, (and the morals of everyone within it) apart, things just got ugly.

So where are the two sides now? Where they have been since the beginning. Worlds apart.

After Wednesday’s proposal, the NHLPA came back with a proposal of their own — with some minor changes. Don Fehr was saying that they were “close” after their last proposal had been presented.

But it wasn’t nearly close enough for the National Hockey League. They rejected it and then took to the microphone at a press conference to address why they rejected the offer. And seemingly, to speak of why they hated everyone in the players’ association.

During that press conference Bettman told reporters that there was to be no negotiation with the offer presented by the NHL. That it was to stand “as is,” and that all present members of the association were made aware of that. He couldn’t understand why there was a counteroffer. He repeatedly said he couldn’t understand much of what the union was doing, or why they were doing it. Talking about “hills they will die on” and the union being “terribly unfair to our fans, it was clearly emotional for both Bettman and Bill Daly. Bettman in particular, was angrier than anyone in the hockey world had ever seen him.

It’s been debated whether it was real anger or drama but, real or not, the NHL owners have taken all previous offers off the table — which means we’re back to square one. But don’t be fooled into thinking that means the two are even speaking at this point. These are the last words from both sides:

Donald Fehr: “It’s up to them. They’re the ones who called a halt to the process.”

Bill Daly: “I have no reason, nor intention, of reaching out to the union right now. I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen.”

The thing is though, Bill, you weren’t.

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