If the NHL is trying to win the PR war, their announcement today probably won't help much. The league withdrew their last CBA offer -- the one that was released last week to the derision of the NHLPA. The NHLPA counter-proposed not one but three CBAs, each of which eventually got the salary split down to 50/50 while at the same time making sure that the contracts the players have signed will be honored.
Some members of the NHLPA, like Blues captain David Backes, felt like the NHL's CBA and the NHLPA's CBA were good starting points for a negotiation. The NHL, led by Gary Bettman, told the players to take the league's offer or leave it. The players left it, and the league took the offer back. That move surprised exactly no one, but a lack of surprise doesn't equal a lack of disappointment. The NHL accompanied their withdrawal of their CBA proposal with the announcement that all games through November 30th are cancelled.
The league surely would like to say "well, we had an offer out there that the players wouldn't take, so we had to do this." The spin of losing a month's worth of hockey, however, is next to impossible to get on the league's side. The NHLPA, however, has released this statement which is nothing short of a slap in the league's face:
"The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn its latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise.
Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal. We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players' share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honour contracts they have already signed. Honouring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals.
Since then, we have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no pre-conditions. The owners refused. They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their "make whole" provision.
The message from the owners seems to be: if you don't give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon."
And so the dance continues. While the league and the NHLPA fight back and forth, here're the games that Blues fans will miss out on (from 11/3-11/30):
- November 3rd: STL at Los Angeles
- November 6th: Dallas at STL
- November 8th: Columbus at STL
- November 10th: STL at Nashville
- November 13th: STL at Toronto
- November 15th: STL at Minnesota
- November 17th: Nashville at STL
- November 21st: STL at Detroit
- November 23rd: NY Islanders at STL
- November 25th: Washington at STL
- November 29th: Columbus at STL