There may only be a sliver—in reality, probably even smaller—of hope of seeing some NHL action this season, but there is a silver lining. The chance of commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr ever recovering from the atrocious way in which they have dealt with this entire situation is much more minute.
Just think of it this way: The more we have to deal with a lockout, the less amount of time Bettman and Fehr will be around.
To be fair, dealing with a lockout isn't exactly as easy as 1-2-3. Heck, it probably isn't even as easy as A-B-C.
There's a reason, after all, it's called a lockout. Two sides aren't able to reach an agreement on a stance that neither is willing to budge from in the first place. By the nature of the definition, it's not only an inevitable situation, but will undoubtedly be a difficult problem to solve.
So, should we blame Bettman or Fehr for the lockout? Well, probably both, but not so much that they deserve to lose their jobs.
But their lame attempts to end the lockout? Those have been unforgivable (said in the YouTube unforgivable guy's voice).
Bettman and Fehr's negotiation tactics have been downright awful and aggravatingly flawed. If not, we still wouldn't be so far away from playing hockey and the "serious" negotiations would have happened a long time ago. The NBA and NFL have both gone through lockouts in the very recent past; in both instances, the sides worked tirelessly through the nights to obtain some progress at the very least.
In those situations, there was always hope. In this one, the only real hope is that we won't lose two seasons.
The NFL ended up reaching a deal in time for the season. The NBA lost some games but still managed to come to an agreement before the season was banished.
Bettman and Fehr, meanwhile, are in danger of losing the entire season and it seems like they aren't even worried (via CBC Sports):
Now the NHL and the locked-out players' association aren't even talking by phone.
With the lockout entering its third month, communications between the fighting sides have come to a halt with no clear sign of what the next step will be or when it will be taken.
"No, we have not communicated today," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press on Wednesday in an email. "No meetings scheduled, and no plans to meet."
Yeah, no hurry or anything. Don't worry about it.
Moreover, with the NBA, you were either on one side of the other. Either it was commissioner David Stern's fault or it was the NBPA's fault. In this situation, however, both sides have been so painstakingly bad that the majority of fans are smart enough to realize Bettman and Fehr are both to blame. That's when you know it's bad.
Just take hockey analyst Al Morganti's word for it:
If Bettman and Fehr carry this asinine lockout into the holiday season, two nativity scenes will be missing their donkeys.— al morganti (@nufced) November 14, 2012
There's no question that these two men have a tough job on their hands, but other commissioners and executive directors have proven it's a doable task.
Bettman and Fehr have the power in this situation. They are the two leaders with the ability to keep this process moving in a positive direction. Instead, with every day they fail to show a willingness to find some type of resolve, they are damaging the sport of hockey further and further.