"All I've said is Sept. 15 is not a magic date unless someone wants to make it so," Fehr said. "There's nothing that happens on Sept. 15 if we don't have an agreement, provided nobody says we're going to go on strike or says we're going to lock the doors."
That's the NHLPA's head Donald Fehr reminding everyone that the NHL can continue to play under the current CBA while they negotiate a new one which is something that he's mentioned before. Fehr has taken great pains to present a considered and calm approach to the CBA negotiations. Whether he will succeed in preventing the kind of failed CBA that we got the first time around is another question.
An equally interesting question, to me at least, was which media member would be the first to take the side of the owners during the CBA negotiations. Well, I think we have our answer after the jump.
One aspect of the labor talks bothers me. They originally should have begun right after the All-Star Game. That would have given more time.— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) August 1, 2012
— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) August 3, 2012
@stanfischler It didn't have to be this way. Gary Bettman was ready to start talking right after the All-Star Game. Other side stalled.
Set aside the hilarity of Stan Fischler responding to his own tweet two days later because we all know Twitter's buttons are really complicated to figure out for people that have had to move from smoke signals to semaphore through to tin cans and string then through to morse code. Back when I wondered whether members of the MSM (and maybe the blogosphere because they have similar conflicts of interest lololol) that worked for media companies that also have ownership interests in NHL teams would stretch out their muscles and carry the water for the evil owners.
I love the myriad implications in his tweets. The first is that the owners would have dropped this kind of bombshell during the regular season. I'm sure owners would have been lining up to piss off their golden geese. The second is that even though both sides have not been meeting publicly (and having those meetings breathlessly updated with dire predictions of lost seasons) that there has not been any progress. Jesse Spector of the Sporting News' story makes it clear that the latest document dump is just a part of a process begun five months ago:
“In addition, we made a substantial financial data dump five months ago, and they had, I think, auditors go in to do some procedures with at least half of the clubs over the last year. So, the union has, for quite some time, had substantial financial information. They have given us, recently, some additional financial information and other information requests, most of which we don’t understand the relevance to, but which we have been producing. Last night, we gave them the first installment, which was 76,000 pages of information, pursuant to their request.”
I love that Bettman makes it seem like it is an aberration for the side that is preparing to face a 'partner' that is going to cry 'poor' again to want to have every scrap of information that they are due. Donald Fehr would be a fool to be anything less than ruthlessly diligent before the owners begin their 'cost certainty' and 'cheap tickets' song and dance for the assembled crowd.
But why would Fischler jump in on their side? Maybe he's the kind of guy that thinks that regulations are choking business or that the poor owners have a right to make money in a capitalistic endeavour or some other logic that would make someone side with billionaires, multinationals, and people that are richer than God. Or maybe, it's because he is an employee of MSG Network which covers New York sports teams and is, coincidentally of course, owned by Madison Square Garden, Inc. which owns the New York Rangers. That's not to suggest that Fischler's been told to support the owners' position by anyone or that he doesn't actually believe that if the owners' ludicrous proposal is implemented that the structural problems that the NHL faces will be solved. But I am suggesting that an old school guy like Stan probably knows what side his bread is buttered on and it'll be interesting to keep an eye on reporters working for Comcast, Sportsnet, TSN, or in the Canadian cities where reporters generally dangle by puppet strings like Edmonton and Winnipeg. Their coverage of these negotiations will be telling.