Steve Fehr and Bill Daly touched based Tuesday in a short phone call, and I wonder if it wasn’t for any reason other than to be able to tell us inquiring media types that they touched base for the first time since last Friday.
I’m joking. Kind of.
Still, with no official talks scheduled for this week, I don’t think the NHL is interested in getting back into a bargaining room until the NHLPA either has a new proposal or at least new ideas that would be worth exploring.
In other words, the league is putting the onus on the NHLPA to make the next move.
Which prompted one NHL player to text me Tuesday and say, "Wait a minute, we made the last offer [Dec. 6] and they still think it’s our turn to make the next move? Makes no sense."
Thing is, ever since the experiment with Ron Burkle and fellow owners fell through in the first week of December, the league has played hardball because it believes if the compromises the Penguins owner and his group were offering weren’t enough to get a deal done, then the league thinks NHLPA executive director Don Fehr is waiting for mid-January -- i.e., the 11th hour -- to finally make his move.
Hence why the league has been unwilling to move much off its last offer.
What’s frustrating for moderate players and moderate owners is that both camps feel a deal is oh-so-close, but both sides want the other camp to make the next move.
In the meantime, you can expect more games to get canceled by the end of this week, which could be the last batch of games wiped out before it’s time to either salvage or cancel the season.
I do not think the league will wait until mid-February, like it did eight years ago, to cancel the season. No way this gets past the third week of January without a tentative agreement or a wipeout.
In order to play anywhere from 48 to 50 games, you need the puck to drop in and around Jan. 20 (to play until late June). So that certainly sets up the first 7-10 days of January as the last possible window for bargaining.
Of course, much depends on whether the players file for a disclaimer of interest (decertification). The executive board will find out when player voting wraps up Friday whether it has the authorization to go ahead and file a disclaimer if it chooses to. My guess is the board will indeed get a yes vote from the rank-and-file.
And don’t forget, the board has only until Jan. 2 to act on that authorization. One player told ESPN.com it was important for the board not to get an unlimited timeline with that giant hammer.
So what will come first? Another bargaining session or a showdown in court?
It’s a big game of chicken.
In the meantime, there’s been very little talk of the Olympics. That’s remained on the back burner until the bigger core issues are resolved. But one source told ESPN.com Tuesday that it’s not written in stone the players and owners must make the Olympics part of the next CBA, that there exists the possibility -- if both sides are willing to do it -- to have a side agreement on the Olympics once further talks with the IIHF and IOC are held.
My guess is NHL players are headed to Sochi, Russia, but that’s no guarantee.
Right now, I just hope we see NHL players in NHL rinks. And that’s no guarantee, either.