Its been nearly a month since the beginning of NHL Lockout 2012, and despite more talks this week, the two sides appear no closer to a new collective bargaining agreement than they did at midnight on September 15.
In the latest development on Wednesday, the Alberta Labour Relations Board rejected the NHLPAs claim that the lockout was illegal in that Canadian province. The players association was hopeful that a ruling in their favor, which in essence would mean the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers would have to pay their players, would give them leverage in negotiations.
It wasnt to be, and each side released a statement about the ruling that only reinforced the fact that these sides havent budged from their respective positions.
We are pleased with the Alberta Labour Boards ruling today that the lockout of Players is effective on a League-wide basis, including in Alberta, and we are extremely appreciative of the decisive manner in which the matter was handled, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in the NHLs statement. We are hopeful that this ruling will enable both the League and the NHL Players Association to focus all of our efforts and energies on negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to get our game and our Players back on the ice.
The NHLPA responded with its own yawn-inducing proclamation.
The players are obviously disappointed with todays decision. Unfortunately, the Alberta Labour Relations Board decided not to exercise its discretion to determine whether the owners lockout violates Alberta law. We will consider our further options with regard to this case.
In the meantime, the players want to play, the fans want to watch the game, and the many workers and business owners who are dependent on NHL hockey for their livelihood want the season to start. We remain committed to reaching a fair agreement at the earliest possible time and hope that the NHL begins to show a willingness to do so.
Meanwhile, another day goes by without NHL hockey, as the league has cancelled all games through Oct. 24. Regular season game play was set to begin with a light schedule on Thursday, Oct. 11, while the Sharks would have boarded their charter to fly to Anaheim in preparation for a game on Oct. 12 with the rival Ducks.
Instead, the two sides reportedly discussed more secondary issues on Wednesday in Toronto, including get this ice conditions in buildings around the league.
Players are growing more frustrated, including the Sharks Ryane Clowe, who spoke with ESPNs Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday.
"The way I see it, if Shea Weber or Ryan Suter or Zach Parise signed those big deals in July and then arrived at training camp and said, 'Were not playing until we get 20 percent more on our contract,' there would be an uproar," Clowe told LeBrun. "The owners would say, 'No chance. Well, its the same thing. Contracts have been signed, both the owners and the players have signed these contracts. Now theyre trying to take whatever percentage off the top? Its all about principle. Its a handshake and an agreement. Why did all these owners rush to sign all these players before the lockout?"
Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, one of the more respected players in the game today, also had some choice words for the NHL owners' strategy.
Like everybody else, Im disappointed that the owners chose to have this tactic from the very beginning, Alfredsson told the Ottawa Citizen. They chose to give a low-ball offer from the get-go. It was kind of clear what they wanted and I dont see anything changing anytime soon.
The players havent felt any financial losses in terms of real dollars just yet, but that will change on Oct. 15, when the first of what was supposed to be 13 paydays goes by the wayside. Quick math says thats approximately 7.7 percent of their annual pay that they will never get back.
According to Daly, the NHL, which raked in a record 3.3 billion in revenue last season, lost approximately 100 million when the preseason was wiped out.