Hey there, y'all. Hope all is well. A summer of love and leisure is over, and it's back to work -- but what kind of work is anyone's guess. Coverage of proceedings on the ice is unlikely.
NHL training camps are set to open in 11 days or so, but I'd put the odds of that happening at about 5 percent or so. The collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and a lockout looms.
I watched from afar (meaning the flight home from my honeymoon in Maui) as the owners and players prepared for yet another labor battle. Things took a turn for the worse Friday when the sides broke off negotiations without scheduling new talks.
"Talks are recessed. We will not be discussing these issues again unless or until there is word from the NHL that they are ready to continue," said Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Association.
Said Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, in an e-mail to the Associated Press: "It's going to be tough to get something done in time to open camps unless or until the union changes its position and indicated a willingness to move off of its current proposal, which it was clearly not prepared to do."
In a nutshell, the league says it is paying too much money to the players, who earn 57 percent of the revenue. The players say the main problem is the owners' refusal to create a meaningful revenue sharing program to help the eight to 10 teams that are struggling as the league rolled to record revenues of $3.1 billion last season.
The NHLPA said it will remain in New York, the league's headquarters, for the next two weeks in case the NHL wants to talk. The union also has an executive board meeting scheduled for Sept. 12-13.
The league doesn't see much point in talking at the moment.
"Somebody needs to be in a position to offer or say something new," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We're not in a position to go back and offer more and negotiate against ourselves."
All in all, there are few encouraging signs as the clock ticks toward what was supposed to be the beginning of hockey season.