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Beyak: Wishing I could still be optimistic about NHL lockout

Associated Press

10/4/2012 11:55:26 PM

In my last couple of blogs I remained very optimistic that a new CBA would be negotiated in time to start the regular season. With the news that the first two weeks have been cancelled, it is with great regret I have to try and explain why I was optimistic.

As I read and listened to both sides say how they owed it to the fans, the game, the sponsors and those who will lose jobs, to get the game going and how they would do everything they could to make that happen,  I believed them. My bad.

It now appears the line in the sand is a ditch.

On our Rona Round Table discussion on TSN 1290 (11 am to 1 pm Monday to Friday) we were joined by Arthur Schafer, Professor and Director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics. He gave us his take on the lockout, laying most of the blame at the feet of the owners.

"The owners need to show respect for the players," was how he worded it.

He added that he does not agree with what most are saying, that it's about greed and millionaires and billionaires battling over a $3.3 billion dollar pie.

"It's about honour, not money. Neither side wants to lose."

Not to disagree with him, but how honourable is it to see people lose jobs.

This was supposed to be a negotiation, but it seems it no longer is. The NHLPA says, "the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner."

The NHL feels it made the last offer and is waiting for something from the players side while saying, "this is not about winning or losing a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long term health and stability of the league and the game."

As we have said before, "don't tell me, show me."

We all may hate the game right now, but that is only at the NHL level. And don't blame the game.  Hockey is in full force with AHL camps, junior leagues well into their seasons and minor hockey starting, etc.

For many teams the training camp and pre-season schedule that was lost, was very important. The Jets are one of those teams.

Last year, the Jets were obligated to fulfill the Atlanta Thrashers pre-season schedule. As a team with a new head coach, in a new city, they needed time together. But that was difficult.

It started with a split squad game with Columbus, then part of the team was playing Carolina, while another bunch was in St. John's playing Ottawa. A team that needed time with a new coaching staff and with each other, didn't have that luxury.

This year the schedule was theirs. It was about how they could maximize the days leading up the regular schedule. That will now have to wait until next year. And we caution that there are those who believe the start to next season is already in jeopardy. We can only hope the line that is now a ditch does not become a canyon.

In other news, it was an interesting day for Jets Captain Andrew Ladd. The reports that he was headed to the KHL were premature. Yes, he had agreed to go but after talking it over with his wife, he decided it was not for him.

Ladd was a guest on TSN 1290's H and L show (4 pm to 6 pm Monday to Friday) saying he tried to get to the KHL team before the news got out.  With a child on the way, the Ladds felt it was better for him to be at home. He also talked about how difficult the lockout was on everyone and that, "losing a pay cheque is not the best situation", but this is about the big picture, feeling the players are the only side making concessions.

He also talked about the proposed salary roll back, adding that the top players will always get the big pay day, but it will really hurt the bottom part of the lineup. Maybe he's on to something. Maybe the roll back percentage should be based on total salary and not just percentage. Perhaps any player making under the average salary should be exempt from a roll back. Just a thought.

With all the talk about officials in the National Football League, it makes you wonder about the NHL officials that are without work and without a pay cheque. Unlike players they can't head to the KHL, so add them to the list of innocent bystanders getting hurt.

The ratio for Jets fans is not good. One season after 15 years without, and now without again. So we continue to wait. Wait for the next proposal, the next negotiation, the next sign that this may soon end. Waiting and wishing I could end this with, "I remain optimistic".