Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/11/12 at 06:37 PM ET
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
I see a deal, or at least a path to one. I see a negotiation that should be in its final stages when the NHL and the NHL Players' Association resume talks Wednesday, with federal mediators rejoining the process. I see no excuse – none, nada, zero, zilch – for the season to be canceled. I see no hills on which to die here, not anymore, only the point of diminishing returns.
Is there any battle left to be won that is worth the sacrifice of the season? Of course not.
Which is why some teams are quietly telling staffers to get ready. Which is why more players are popping up at practice rinks. They say it means nothing, and technically that's true: Only the tight inner circles on each side really know the next moves. No one wants to seem too eager and project weakness, either. But whether it's optimism or just-in-case preparation or educated guessing, this is not just wishful thinking. It better not be wishful thinking.
The sides aren't as close as NHLPA executive director Don Fehr made them seem last week. But they aren't as far apart as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly made them seem. At this point, if the deal doesn't get done, if the lockout doesn't end by mid-January at the latest, it won't be because of principles or economics. It will be because the leadership (bleeped) it up.
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