End is near as players and owners nowhere close

–pic via @NHLPA. NHL players meeting to drink Fehr's Kool-Aid.

Plently of news in lockout land. None of it is good.

First, the NHL and NHLPA met for two hours today. From The Sporting News:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sounded a less optimistic tone, saying—again—the league made "meaningful movement." He stated his belief that the union's offer wasn't appreciably different than the last one and said the league's proposal would be taken off the table on Saturday.

The tone on Twitter was that of pure doom:


Puck Drunk Love pointed out an interesting story from Puck Daddy about Dustin Brown's agent, Scott Norton:

One report (based on "sources around the industry") says the general consensus is that NHL games will be played, but that the regular season will likely not start until some time between Thanksgiving (November 22) and the Winter Classic (January 1, 2013).

We'd take that. But then read this…

NHLPA certified agent Scott Norton of Norton Sports Management told Forbes.com that there is a legitimate chance it could be a year-and-a-half from the date the CBA expires (September 15) before hockey resumes.  "The NHLPA, agents, and players are much more unified than they were at the start of the last work stoppage [in 2004]," said Norton.  "We are all impressed with [NHLPA executive director] Donald Fehr's abilities, persona, and the way he has involved players and agents in meetings, and feel very strongly that NHLPA will stick together this time…if it means a missing a month [of games] or 2 seasons."

Ohhh boy that would be terrible.

Eliotte Friedman chimed in with a good story on the talking points. And this stuck out:

On Wednesday, agent Anton Thun told the radio show Prime Time Sports that he saw Oct. 11 –  the scheduled start of the season – as a more important date than Sept. 15, when the CBA expires.

It seemed innocuous because Thun, unlike most, was generally positive and optimistic. Csnphilly.com's Tim Panaccio wrote on Thursday that three agents told him something similar. Some league and team executives didn't like that message, because it threatens lucrative (at least in some markets) pre-season games, and indicates their deadline isn't being taken seriously. Players are not paid for exhibition games, but still get 57 per cent of the revenues under the current CBA.

72 hours till it all goes dark.