Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time Is Running Out

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time Is Running Out

Article excerpt

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Enough, guys. It's time.

Yes, you guys. The owners and players of the National Hockey League. You have wasted your customers' patience long enough. Christmas is nigh. You need to get this lockout settled.

It's true that the Kabuki theater of the negotiations -- with all the blustering and posturing -- has been mildly entertaining. But that's only because most of us figured they would be concluded by now and that no league in any sport would be stupid enough to risk canceling two entire seasons within a span of nine years.

Yet here we are. The two sides are still talking, at least. The two negotiating parties were never in the same room Wednesday. They each met with mediators in separate sessions, trying to assemble terms that would be acceptable for all. But at day's end, nothing was settled. And it was unclear if there would be another session today -- or any other day.

Enough. It's time.

Normally, the stance here toward all the labor-management negotiations in major league sports has been of the heck-with-both- sides variety. It can give you a headache if you really dig into the arcane details of offers and counteroffers. Why bother? The best strategy is to ignore the ups and downs, wait out the feuding little kids and tell them to wake us up when they get a deal.

But such a view is harder to adopt this time -- if only because last week, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly issued perhaps the most over-the-top statement in sports contract bargaining history.

At a media session podium after the breakup of one players-vs.- league session and trying to explain where the NHL stood, Daly proclaimed: "This is the hill we will die on." He was referring to the owners' intractable stance on three issues -- term limits on player contracts, a 10-year labor agreement (with an NHLPA option to reopen after eight years) and the transition terms from the expired agreement to the next one regarding buyouts of current contracts and other matters. …

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