How we got here, as retold in the spirit of this NHL lockout. But first, a disclaimer of interest: We are thinking of going to Europe to get away from all this labour madness. We'll go as soon as Sidney Crosby does.
Now to business and a statement from the NHL:
"We believe we have made a fair offer and that the season can be saved if the players are willing to negotiate."
The NHL Players' Association responds with a counter-statement:
"We believe the owners are jerks."
"No we're not."
"Yes you are."
News flash: talks break off, no further discussions planned.
The NHLPA meets in an undisclosed location – not really, they just want people to think that – and come up with a new strategy. Forget non-binding arbitration: the PA is putting the NHL on "double secret probation." Special advisor to the PA, the Dean, Vernon Wormer, believes it could work. Players agree to vote.
Before they do, defenceman Roman Hamrlik is quoted in a Czech Republic newspaper as saying the players should take what the NHL is offering otherwise they'll have to come to Europe and travel by bus and eat stale sandwiches at truck stops that make the ones in Finland look like Manhattan's best restaurants.
The players are outraged that one of their own has spoken a free thought. Evander Kane immediately tweets a photo of himself standing atop a Las Vegas building with mounds of cash in his hands. He uses one mound like a cell phone as if to pretend he's calling his agent and saying, "Sure, I'll play in Oulu. Where is it again?"
The NHL shows a crack in its foundation, too, when Detroit Red Wings' executive Jimmy Devellano gets his organization fined $250,000 US for saying, "Brett Hull's goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup final – that never should have counted."
Actually, he called the players cattle and said, "We believe we have made a fair offer and that the season can be saved if the players are willing to negotiate." This irked NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who snapped, "That's my line."
In order to get the two sides talking again, the principal negotiators take a step back and allow the players to meet directly with the owners. The players send in still-thinking-of-Europe Sidney Crosby; the owners send in Roman Hamrlik. Nothing gets accomplished.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admits he is "disappointed beyond belief." NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, who never smiles, insists the players are open to negotiations. He doesn't smile.
The lawyers attack the scene like jackals on a fallen gazelle. It's a race to see which side gets to court first. Why? So one side can tell the other, "No, we sued you first. Oh yes we did."
Despite a hefty load of legal lip flapping, somehow nothing lands in front of Judge Redfield T. Baum, the Judge Roy Bean of the Phoenix Coyotes' fiasco back when the NHL was actually a league that functioned. You remember those days? Me neither.
News flash: the players say they have tried everything – mediation, peace offerings, Ouija boards – and now believe the only way to end the lockout is to decertify and all sign with the Minnesota Wild, whose owner was recently giving away millions of dollars. Kyle Turris doesn't want to sign with Minnesota since there may be nothing to do there, in the wild, away from the rink.
Everyone who has even looked at a hockey stick is asked their opinion on what has happened, how they feel and whether they think hockey is a good enough game to withstand the people running it. Eventually, the media tires of the chase and begins interviewing itself, a sure sign of the apocalypse.
And on it goes. No peace on ice, no good will towards man.
It's enough to make a hockey fan cry, if he or she still cared. They don't.