Ron Hainsey, a key member of the NHL Players' Association negotiating committee, appeared on Hockey Night in Canada Radio Friday and had plenty to say about how the current labour dispute unfolded in New York this week.
The Winnipeg Jets defenceman joined host Gord Stellick and HNIC host Ron MacLean on Sirius Channel 207.
"We thought we were moving very close to each other," he said. "We thought the player-owner thing was very respectful. We were very appreciative of them and the way they treated us and they reciprocated that feeling. We thought that we were making good progress.
"I think all of us had true optimism."
Hainsey says the players felt they addressed the NHL's biggest concerns in their latest written proposal, including the collective bargaining agreement and maximum contract lengths, but then the tide turned.
"I became concerned Wednesday when our offer wasn't understood — and I presented it," he said. "It seems like what we thought were messages getting across didn't get across somehow. I'm actually very perplexed about that."
'We thought that we were making good progress.'—Ron Hainsey on HNIC Radio
When meetings between the players and owners began to sour, the PA contingent, led by Hainsey, stated a change needed to be made and called for NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and possibly NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to re-enter negotiations.
"We went up to inform [the NHL owners] Wednesday that would be our stance going forward. They attempted to argue it," Hainsey said. "This was not a debatable decision. We do not tell them who to bring in and obviously they can't tell us.
"It was told to me directly [Fehr coming back in] could be a deal breaker," he added. "Say what you want about Gary or Don, there's a reason those guys are where they are."
And then there was the now infamous voicemail left by the NHL to the NHLPA rejecting the players' latest offer.
"Where it gets me is, you would believe the decision had already been made [to reject the offer] no matter what we said, because we've actually extended the term past what was asked.
"We're chasing a moving target here."
Next steps for the players
Hainsey believes there is still a deal to be made, but that the union needs to take a step back for now.
"We got a lot of players, if all players, that want to make a deal and we expressed that by moving again yesterday," he said. "It was run away from [by the league].
"I'd love to be in front of the crowd in Winnipeg at this point, but we're not there yet. Hopefully we can get back on it and get something going here."