The expectation for Monday’s talk cannot be very good. There is nothing to indicate that either side has had an epiphany. I have been told the NHL has made its final offer. And despite claims by the Players’ Association, that the two sides are actually closer than most realize, it’s hard to imagine an agreement with the league gaining so much on the issues of contracting (length of contracts, salary variance, free agency, entry-level system and arbitration) is possible. I certainly can’t imagine the Fehr brothers caving now after losing more than 300 games of the schedule.
So it’s with that in mind, I have little optimism for Monday. And trust me, I would like to be wrong. It would be a great relief to see some real progress in the days to come. Perhaps a 60-game schedule that starts on Dec. 15 is the one thing that can save the sport from itself.
Is there a deal to be made? For sure. I just don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up that the NHL and the PA are close to making a deal. That just is not the case.
Shannon seems to echo the mood of many, including NHL exec Bill Daly, who said he was “more discouraged” than ever about the discussions on Thursday.
Daly also admitted that the NHLPA requested Monday’s meetings, which at least implies that the players’ side shoulders the burden of breaking up the impasse.
Tomorrow night’s meetings might shed some light on the situation, whether they inject some needed positivity or present another lateral move.