Monday, May 23, 2005


Can Optimism Derail the Process?

Not sure, but that is the fear. From both sides.

This new round of hope has arrived as a result of several factors, but mostly out of a sense of desperation to save the upcoming season. A realization that the season needs to be saved now. A desperation that comes from the rumored June 15th deadline or the sponsors threats or the PA's realization that this may be a linkage deal and they need to get this done now.

So how does optimism hurt this? I talked to a labor lawyer late last night and he had some interesting thoughts on the subject...

"The problem with optimism is that it increases the pressure and puts both sides in a bigger PR nightmare should talks face a setback of any kind. In the case of the union, too much optimism makes it appear as though they are prepared to give away the farm. They want it to be known that even if certain aspects have been agreed upon they may have only been agreed upon contingent upon other aspects not yet fully discussed. In the case of the NHL, optimism also increases the pressure to get it done and may force them into positions of weakness the NHLPA could exploit"

There is also concern that the players, who have been a huge factor in pushing this along, will view the optimism as "deal done" and take the heat off the PA. That is a huge concern right now. from a source, "In February in that fateful week leading up to cancellation Saturday the players were energized. Then on Friday, when a deal looked to be done they relaxed for a second and the season was gone for good."

From another source, "The optimism in the media is being driven by several factors. First, there are the press releases that came after these last rounds of talks...the first that ever implied progress. Second there are the "off the record" rumors and speculation, and mostly the common sense factor that both sides simply can't miss another season and survive."

In regards to the press releases it is my belief that the days of doom and gloom press releases are behind us. The constituents from both sides are too nervous for negative sounding press releases. Both sides used to use press releases to further their cause and the constituents went along with that.

Not any more.

Finally, and most importantly I'd like to take some space and congratulate the great hockey writer Helene Elliott on her induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. One the greatest thrills in doing this blog has been the opportunity to meet and get to know Helene Elliott. I have been reading her stuff for as long as I can remember, and to actually get a chance to talk and share opinions with her has been a complete joy and thrill. She is a great writer and an even better person who loves the sport and it shows in her writing and her great demeanor. As a good friend who lives in LA recently said to me, "If we didn't have Helene, I don't think we would still have the Kings. She is that important to hockey in this city. Her writing has helped convert many southern California beach bums into hockey fans. I can't imagine what we would have become without her. The city and the NHL owes her more than she will ever receive."

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