(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, October 23, 2012)
I caught a wild kitten last week. The folks at the animal shelter said he is just a couple weeks too old to be tamed. I said what the heck, the Sharks are locked out, the Bulls are on the road, I’ll give it a try anyway. As I sat there with the three pound feline cornered, petting his back gently, trying to make purring sounds, I wondered if I could find a parallel between this process and the NHL CBA negotiations. I got stuck on who is the tiny cat and who is the busy-body human.
Of course, neither side qualifies as a completely helpless, fearful little thing. And both sides understand what they need the other for. The kitten doesn’t understand that making friends with people can double his life span and reduce stress dramatically. It is a poor comparison. Still, I will be keeping track of our relative progress, and I suspect my negotiations will end before the NHL’s, even with the multi-year head start they have on me. Really, this is all stuff they should have been thinking about ever since the last time they did this. I concluded that the CBA negotiations are less like a rapprochement and more like two lions fighting over a kill. They are not concerned with making friends. Ironically, they aren’t even that hungry.
Deepak Malhotra shared some common sense in Forbes recently. In it, he suggested that:
The league should also immediately release their gag rules on owners and management. This is what the NHL eventually did in a last-ditch effort to save the 2004-05 season, but they did it too late.
I don’t understand how the NHL thinks that a gag order is appropriate for grown business owners, or how it can be understood as anything but an attempt to quash dissent in their ranks. For a blink of an eye, I thought they had come to their senses when they allowed owners to speak to players, but no. Instead, they sent what I would take to be a fairly insulting memo giving them permission to answer player inquiries about nothing of consequence:
If he volunteers what he has in mind you should not respond positively or negatively or ask any questions but instead refer him to the NHLPA. Likewise, you may not suggest hypothetical proposals that the League might make in the future or that the League might entertain from the Union.
I guess they could still talk about the Giants and the weather, as long as they did it in secret.
Dear NHL: you’re doing it wrong. Enough about you.
The Giants are keeping Bay Area sports fans distracted. Even I, who can’t watch a ball game for more than ten minutes and even then I tend to wander off to do dishes and laundry… even I tuned in a couple of times to make sure the Giants were still winning last night. That had to be very exciting for Giants fans. I won’t say I am one, not even a bandwagon fan. But I do sympathize with them. I also feel a little twinge of bitterness that I don’t have my major league team to root for right now.
The bitterness is cut a little by following the SF Bulls, or the Worcester Sharks, though the Bulls are the more encouraging right now. They’ve won two out of five games, and earned points for getting to overtime in two of their losses. They have yet to be on the wrong end of a blowout. They’ve already made some roster changes:
The San Francisco Bulls Professional Hockey Team … announced today the signing of left wings Kelsey Wilson and Evan Barlow. In addition, the Bulls have acquired defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin from the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL in exchange for right wing Keaton Turkiewicz. Also, forwards Thomas Beauregard and Jonathan Lessard, and defenseman Martin Lee have been released. -SFBulls.com
The Bulls are busy. They play the Alaska Aces Friday. Worcester is also playing Friday, and not until then.
The extra attention the AHL Sharks got during training camp from the San Jose coaching staff doesn’t seem to have helped much, they are still looking for a win. At least the new SJ coaches had a chance to learn about some of their new players, which will be good if the NHL plays again, before all those prospects retire. Pollak tells us that the coaches are keeping busy even if they are impatient to get back to work.
Logan Couture is doing Sharks fans proud in Switzerland. His team is winning and he’s shining. Tommy Wingels got into some trouble but nothing close to what that ex-Blackhawk who blew through San Jose is up to. Wingels got suspended for a hit that bothers me as much as it bothered the Finnish League. Please don’t do anything like that again, Wingels.
In the mean time, I think the kitten is making progress. I can look at him without causing terrified trembling, and a couple of days ago he felt brave enough to hiss at me. Now I can hear him meowing. That’s supposed to be a sign of confidence. I won’t say we are close on terms here, I’m not sure he has really explained what he needs yet. But at least we’re talking, the way you need to do if you want to get a deal done.