NHL lockout: Bettman reportedly suggests players/owners-only meeting
Mediation was an abject failure, so reportedly Gary Bettman has proposed a meeting between only the players and owners.
Most think it will be the NHLPA dictating the next move either by decertification or by a disclaimer of interest, which both do pretty much the same thing: disband the union. It is the big power play the union still has.
But there's another option, too, that reportedly was put forth by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Katie Strang of ESPN New York reports the following:
#CBA According to multiple sources Bettman proposed to D. Fehr a meeting between owners and players only, w/ no league or PA staff present.— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) November 29, 2012
If nothing else, this idea is certainly interesting and might be good to get the middle men out of the way. Bettman and Donald Fehr get the majority of the attention but their jobs are to represent their constituents, not themselves. Why not let the actual parties take the lead?
The general consensus seems to be that it would be a good idea and should happen. But this is exactly why the NHLPA has a leader and the owners have Bettman. They are one voice for large groups; it's their job to represent all in one.
Further, many of the owners are experienced in negotiating -- it's why they are rich businessmen. It would be akin to players proposing they play the owners in a hockey game, winner calls the shots. It's just not a level playing field. I mean, sure, the NHLPA has some smart, educated players within the representation, but you're still asking a lot.
Not to mention you have to wonder if guys would get gun-shy in airing grievances to one another given the relationships that might or might not exist between the players and owners.
It's a novel idea and one that the NHLPA is said to be considering but one it should probably decide to reject. With all due respect to the players, they would be out of their realm in that environment.
Not to mention it's awfully tough to speak for all 750 players when you're one yourself. Imagine you're a player who brokers a bad deal. It probably wouldn't be fun to be you on the ice or in the locker room.
If it were to happen, though, never in my life would I have wanted to be a fly on the wall more. It would be really interesting to see how Jeremy Jacobs would talk to players like one of his Bruins Milan Lucic or Shawn Thornton.
Not to be outdone, the players had made their own offer to the owners to shake up the negotiations as Jamal Mayers tweeted.
@katiestrangespn NHLPA also proposed a meeting with ALL the owners!— Jamal Mayers (@jamalmayers) November 29, 2012
As it stands now, only four owners are in on the meetings; Jacobs, Washington's Ted Leonsis, Minnesota's Craig Leipold and Calgary's Murray Edwards.
Is it just me or does it feel like we're going in the wrong direction here?
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