The NHL owners are playing hard ball now. After talks on a new collective bargaining agreement broke down last week, any momentum toward ending the lockout has stalled. Whether this is a planned negotiating strategy by the owners or just the nature of two sides fighting over every last dollar, it's not a good sign as Thanksgiving approaches and pessimism reigns.
"I'm more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press on Thursday.
That's because Daly says the owners have nothing left to offer the NHL Players' Association, which is now stuck in limbo as the days pass with dozens of players in Europe and others just trying to stay in shape in case a deal comes together quickly. There have been multiple media reports in recent days that if a deal isn't struck by early next week, all games through Dec. 15 will be canceled.
There is still time. The 2004-05 season wasn't canceled until February, after all. But with 327 regular-season games and the lucrative Winter Classic already shelved, things are fast approaching a breaking point.
- Brian McNally