The latest NHL lockout will turn 100 days old on Monday, but understandably the occasion will not be a cause for celebration in this country.
Instead, expect the fury and disgust and disbelief that have built up over the past three-plus months among fans to continue to intensify, and also expect more NHL followers to continue to pronounce that they are done with the NHL.
Here were some of the tweets I received after the league cancelled more games on Thursday:
"Nobody cares anymore," from @JoeRussoIII.
"What a disgrace. I hope players, owners and Bettman all realize how disgusted fans are," wrote @mjeike35.
"Cancel the season already," another tweet from @nyr_nationsaid.
"Just get it over with already," @jeffurkevich wrote.
"Just do it," @lgc_com tweeted.
One way or another this game of chicken between the owners and the players is nearing a conclusion. That much was made clear after the league cancelled another block of games, this time through Jan. 14. A total of 625 games or 50.8 per cent of the 2012-13 regular season now has gone up in smoke.
Some of us have speculated that January 15th was D-Day to save the season, and Thursday's announcement confirmed as much. The NHL and the players are down to their final 26 days to get a deal done and begin a 48-game schedule or kiss off another season.
The NHL wouldn't dare cancel its second season in eight years, would it? You wouldn't think so. But already there has been so much damage done to this $3.3-billion business does another nine months make a difference at this point?
No more talking
Nevertheless, all the uproar will not sway the owners or the players. Only the league and the players can solve the issues at hand.
But the problem is that no issues are being discussed these days. There hasn't been a bargaining session since the two sides departed New Jersey following two days of mediation last Thursday. There are no talks planned either.
Heck, the two sides can't even agree on how close they are in getting a deal done. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has said the two sides are close on a new collective agreement. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly begs to differ and has said this week that the two sides are not close.
There has been so much posturing and spinning that has gone on, the truth lies somewhere in between.
There also is this matter of the possibility that the NHLPA could file a disclaimer of interest and dissolve the union in order to open the door to file antitrust suits against the NHL. The players have been voting this week on whether to give their executive board the authorization to do so and that voting period concludes on Friday.
The NHL, meanwhile, launched a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York as well as an unfair labour practice complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board last Friday.
The threat of antitrust lawsuits triggered a deal in the NFL and NBA lockouts last year. But nobody knows how this will influence the NHL-NHLPA stalemate.
All we really do know is that the owners and the players are down to their final 26 days, and that if there is another cancellation it will be the entire 2012-13 NHL season.
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