NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters yesterday that was movement in the negotiations and that a deal could be made in 'near time'. An end to the lockout is near!
Then NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took the stand after a quick negotiation session that had the NHLPA giving the NHL another offer and Bettman squashed all the hopes and dreams of an upcoming season. The NHL rejected the lastest proposal with Bettman citing that both sides were still 'far apart'.
The NHL is seeking a 10 year deal whereas the NHLPA wants a 5-8 year range. The other big deal, besides coming to terms with a fair revenue split, is the length of player contracts. The NHL wants a max of 5 years but the NHLPA want something along the lines of 8.
It seems so simple. It seems like they could have this figured out in a day. Now it seems the lockout, which is now 83 days old, is going to linger on throughout the holidays, barring a miracle. The NHL has already cancelled games until December 16, cancelled the All-Star game (which no one cares about) and the almighty Winter Classic. There is no 'drop dead' date on which they would cancel the season, but it's dangerously close now.
If the NHL and NHLPA could agree on anything it would be a step in the right direction, but that doesn't seem to be the case right now.
On a more positive note: The Norfolk Admirals hosted the Hershey Bears at the Verizon Center last night for an AHL Showcase. Norfolk, since closer to the venue, was the home team, but you could never think it with all the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals jerseys flooding the stands. The highlite of the night was the return of the 2012 playoff hero for the Caps, Braden Holtby. Holtby was in net for the Bears and played solid after letting in a soft goal 10 seconds into the game. He stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Bears won the game 2-1 among a sold out Verizon Center crowd. Ryan Potulny scored the game winner with a snipe from the bottom of the circle, putting right over the shoulder of Norfolk goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Both teams are struggling this year however. The Bears, who are normally a powerhouse in the East are now 10-11-1 through 22 games and the Admirals, the reigning Calder Cup Champions, are 9-12-0. It's been a tough start for both team, but I wonder how much of that is attributed to the large amount of young NHL'ers that are down on the farm on many other teams.
The return of professional hockey to DC was almost bittersweet as the excitement of the sport was overshadowed by the reminder of lockout. The arena erupted after every goal. The fans stood and cheered after every save. It wasn't Caps hockey, but it was hockey nonetheless and to the fans it was perfect.
Photo Credit: JustSports Photography