It's been three weeks since the NHL made its first proposal, and the NHLPA still has yet to present a counteroffer. Today and throughout the rest of the week, both sides will meet to continue CBA talks.
Earlier in the week, Los Angeles Kings right winger Kevin Westgarth tweeted a photo of the 76,000 pages of NHL finances that must be sorted through before the players can make a counteroffer. Yes, it looks daunting, but a three-week response time when we're only five weeks from the Sept. 15 deadline makes you wonder just how much longer this process will take.
Since the initial NHLPA meetings in Chicago, Donald Fehr has stressed that there is no timetable on the negotiating process and has reassured that the season could still start on time even if no decision is made on the new CBA.
The last NHL lockout in 2004-05 really hurt the sport overall and losing another season is not something the league can afford to do again.
The five changes the owners desired in their first proposal were drastic and pretty overwhelming. By waiting closer to the Sept. 15 deadline, Fehr may be considering relying on the fan base to speak up as well, upset that training camps and preseason games aren't starting on time. The added pressure may be of assistance when getting owners to lower their initial proposal, which could speed up the overall process.
But by waiting closer to the deadline, the chances of not starting the season on time become greater, despite the ability to play while negotiations continue. As the battle between the two sides go on, there is a possibility neither will want to begin the season on time as frustrations grow further.
And as Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller pointed out earlier in the week, it's important that fans aren't alienated throughout the process:
"The last thing (we) need to do is have some kind of work stoppage, because we've made great strides with the positive spin hockey's had," Miller told the Montreal Gazette. "I think the years coming out of the (2004-05) lockout, we got a lot of the fan base back, a lot of positive energy. Mix that with the Olympics here in North America, a couple good playoffs, and we have a fan base that's loyal and, honestly, the best sports fans out of any sport."