MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Going in circles

Endless talks between NHL and players association dragging on for what seems an eternity

As the endless talks between the National Hockey League and the players association drag on for what seems like forever and the world gets used to life without hockey, apparently a mediator joins the discussion and…..well, nothing again.

And in an exclusive tape recording I’ve obtained, somehow, from their secret location, hey I have my secrets too, I will share with you what was said and what may help explain why this thing is going nowhere fast…….

NHL’s Bettman: Okay, what new proposal are you bringing to the table today Donald?

NHLPA’s Fehr: “I told you it’s Don – Gare, ol buddy. And I don’t have anything new. I came up with something new last time so I’m pretty sure it’s your turn.

Bettman: “You don’t get it do you Don? You should have taken the offer several weeks ago that included a full 82-game season and ensured all the money was still on the table.

Fehr: “I don’t get it? I don’t get it?” (One more time for dramatic effect) “I don’t get it?”

Bettman: “Yes, you don’t get it.”

Fehr: “Without the players there is no NHL. All we’re fighting for is to keep the money you already promised us and not take away all our bargaining rights in the future. We’ve already come down to 50-50 sharing of profits. What more do you want?”

Bettman: “Gee, that’s nice of you. And the owners take all the risks. We need more assurances that costs, like player salaries, don’t get out of control again.”

Fehr: But you got the salary cap last time. The rest is just details about revenue sharing and length of contracts and free agency and…..

Bettman: Yeah, details that add up to billions of dollars.

Fehr: Millions, not billions.

Bettman: Billions.

Fehr: Millions.

Bettman: Billions.

Mediator: This might be a good point for me to step in.

Bettman: Gee, do you think?

Fehr: “Duh.”

Mediator: “See, you guys are already agreeing on something. That’s why I’m here and can help move this process forward. Now my training says when things get heated it might be a good idea to take a break.”

Bettman: “We just came back from a week break. We have to get this thing done. Does nobody understand a season is in jeopardy?”

Mediator: “No, sir, um, I mean a coffee break and then get back at it. Like a 10-minute break”

Bettman: “Oh.”

Fehr: “ I want tea. I don’t drink coffee. And make it 15 minutes I gotta go the bathroom.”

Bettman: “No, 10 minutes, the clock is ticking.”

Fehr: “Fifteen.”

Mediator: “How about twelve-and-a-half?”

Bettman: “This is getting stupid.”

Fehr: “No, it’s getting silly.”

Bettman: “Stupid.”

Fehr: “Silly.”

Bettman: (louder) “Stupid.”

Fehr: (even louder) “Silly.”

Silence for at least 30 seconds.

Mediator: “OK, I think we’re making some headway because I think with a little time and reflection we can probably both agree that silly and stupid aren’t really that far apart.”

Bettman: “I’ll have to talk to the owners and get back to you on that.

Fehr: “Ditto for me.”

Mediator: “Great. Something we agree on and to start fresh with at tomorrow’s meeting. Same time OK with you guys?”

Bettman: “I’d like earlier.”

Fehr: “I’d like later.”

Mediator: “Right, see you then, I think.”