The NHL wanted to show the NHLPA that the league was beholden to no specific date to end the lockout. And that, despite the fact time is running out to save the season, is why commissioner Gary Bettman suggested a two-week moratorium on CBA negotiations.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Nick Cotsonika, the NHL got word that union leader Donald Fehr told the players on a conference call that the league wanted to start the season by Dec. 1. (Whether Fehr actually said that wasn’t confirmed.)
Obviously, if the players knew the NHL had its own deadline, they’d have little incentive to make concessions. In fact, the belief among players seems to be that the league will blink soon.
So the NHL decided to send the players a message: the season will start when the right deal is in place. Dec. 1 means nothing.