In a win-or-lose game, how can there be compromise?

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Given all the flak the owners have taken (and continue to take) for signing players to big contracts with the expectation clubs will be able to claw back some of the salary under a new CBA, it’s worth asking what the players that sign the contracts are expecting from a new agreement.

Specifically, are the players worried that a new CBA will result in lost salary via rollbacks or escrow?

The Washington Times caught up with John Carlson’s agent, Paul Krepelka, after the young defenseman agreed to a six-year, $23.8 million deal with the Capitals.

So, was Carlsson worried?

“It’s part of the discussion; you have to factor it in,” said Krepelka. “But when you do extensions right now, you’ve got to deal with the rules that you’re given. These are the rules we know and we understand.

“If such a rollback or something in the future were to happen, this is something that the players understand going in and have to live with. It’s a big issue with the CBA; I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

“But if it does, then all these guys that signed extensions know it going in and are aware of it. If it happens, it happens. I don’t think it’s going to, but we’ll see.”

By the sounds of it, the players are banking on no rollbacks. This despite the NHL demanding a “reduction in real dollars” in player salaries.

And as we talked about yesterday, that seems to be the main sticking point (among the many sticking points) that has stalled negotiations.

The problem is that only one side can win it. Either players’ salaries go down and the owners win, or players’ salaries don’t go down and the union wins.

Heels. Commence digging in.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie asked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about this yesterday in New York:

“As long as the players insist on not taking a tangible reduction from $1.873 billion in players’ salaries, and as long as the National Hockey League continues to look for a tangible decrease in that number…how do we solve this?”

Bettman predictably sidestepped the question, instead taking the opportunity to criticize the union’s offer.

And that’s where we’re at.

Stuck.