Monday, April 18, 2005


Here we go....

Regarding Tiesday...Usually when one of these meetings has come about it has been impossible to get info regarding what will be said. Not this time. There is "vibe" being put out for the meeting. The owners aren't being quiet about their distrust of the PA's intentions. A situation that was so positive last week turned somewhere between Friday and Saturday....suddenly sources everywhere had changed their tune as a collective feeling grew implying that the moderates from the PA were being shoved aside, and that Goodenow felt he once again had some leverage and wasn't afraid to use it...

One high ranking source said this to me in no uncertain terms: "Bob's attitude is fueled by his conviction that we are going to try to play the season with replacement players, that we're going to fall on our collective faces doing so, and that we will have no choice but to crawl back to the table when we fail. That's what he tells the players repeatedly. That's what he's banking on. That's why he's intent on stringing everything out. For the players who believe we're committed to a replacement player strategy, its pretty easy, they're not sure whether we're going to be successful or not, but either way the result will be enough to end the lockout, and either way they'll be playing again by November. Making sure the season was cancelled was about Bob "changing the battlefield.". He felt he had no leverage at the end, and Bob hates having no leverage. Now, in his mind, there's a different more uncertain dynamic at work that he believes creates leverage for him."

There is much in this quote that I spent the last 36 hours hunting down. First there is the feeling that replacement players may be far from a certainty. In fact if the players do believe, as this person says, that they will be playing next year either with a deal or as a "crosser" than there really is no reason to get a deal done now. For the NHL a deal that needs to be made soon to assure a well sold season in the fall. So maybe the BOG meeting ends on Wednesday and we are told there will be no replacement players, and instead the lockout continues...

This further enhanced the speculation coming independently from other sources...
"I think this thing has come right off the rails .. I think what I told you earlier this week is right .. The hard liners on the players side have taken over the ship again and will be the only ones in the meeting on Tuesday .. The moderates are being forced out .. I ask this question .. What has happened to Ted Saskin .. He has been shunted aside by Goody and guys like Damphousse and Guerin .. Look out Tuesdays meeting will be short and highly disappointing ..I expect things will last about 4 hours with the two sides only being together for about 30 minutes."

But Gartner was still going, and he's a big key in the progress so far..until Sportsnet comes out last night and says that Linden and Gartner aren't going...These guys have been a part of this all along. Why aren't they coming? Has there been an overthrowing of the moderates?

Another league source.. "I don't know what to expect on Tuesday. All depends on whether Bob's still in control of the agenda {in which case nothing will happen}, or whether the players are directing him {in which case there may be an opportunity for progress}."

Running for the hills yet? Looking for your local arena football's team schedule?

Again why do we know so much? Why is there so much negativity surrounding a meeting that is supposed to be crucial and comes on the coattails of the most positive meeting? How would Gartner and Linden not force themselves in with so much at stake?

Whenever too many leads point in one direction I get suspicious. These things usually don't get out. Two scenarios exist when there is this much information out there. 1. It is exactly correct and the wheels have completely fallen off to the point where neither side even cares anymore....or....they are setting us up...

That is what I think is happening. I think the NHLPA is sending negative signals to the NHL in a calculated way. I think the NHL is baffled by this after the progress that has been made and I believe the NHL. I think the PA believes that they need an unstable table to negotiate on. That progress is defined by how much they (the NHLPA) gives in. So they have purposely set this table this way for Tuesday's meeting. Gartner and Linden aren't "not going" because they have been shoved aside, they are "in on it" and have told the hardliners to finish this deal, andthe hardliners have said we will finish the deal, but it will be easier without you in the room.

I think the end is closer than we think. I may be wrong. It is just one man's theory.

The new buzzword is "traction"...this is being used by the NHL in hopes that the compromised progress has traction and makes it through Tuesday's meeting... "The concept of "traction" is whether the new hybrid concept will continue to be the focus of negotiation/discussion/dialogue at the end of our session on Tuesday. If it does, we will know the concept has "traction". If it doesn't continue to be the focus, it will not have had "traction.""

We will see...but with all that is being thrown will be interesting.

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