It’s a trap!

Thanks to Wikipedia

Have you fans already forgotten the wisdom and warning of one Admiral Ackbar?

Man, the NHL really has you by the short and curlies, don’t they? Go ahead. Admit it. It’s the first step. Stand up in the circle, announce your first name and last initial, and say you’re an addict. Wait for the affirmation, because it’s there.

Darth Vader himself, Gary Bettman, goes on record in making a conciliatory overture to the players which involves a seductive come-on to get the deal done and play a full season. You’re so desperate to see top quality hockey action that in a New York minute, many of you treated Tuesday’s proposal as the first step of just two needed towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. What’s more, every morsel of news rippling out from the new proposal has seemingly been treated as if the resumption of a season were
as assured as a victory in the Battle of Endor.

Fifty-fifty split…82 games…Hockey in July OMG!!!!1!!1 <Squee>

I’m pleading with you. I know you want it. I know some of you need it as we all need Oxygen to breathe, but use some of that last remaining gray matter that isn’t utilized in your day-to-day survival, and think about this.

The NHL just played you all like violins.

One day after taking a massive PR hit when Deadspin revealed a league-sponsored plan to involve focus groups to formulate its future marketing towards your sympathies, the NHL got them anyway. It wasn’t the way it was intended, but aren’t unintended consequences sometimes just the best?

What it revealed is that fans are still not that plugged in to what’s going on. It’s still a war for hearts and minds as it is for dollars and cents and one side is no better or worse than the other, it’s just that one was dumb enough to get caught and did a violent 180 to try and erase that mistake.

I mean, some of your brothers and sisters fell for the lure of $100 to participate in a survey, whose results would be used against you, to brainwash you into thinking that 30 multi-millionaires need to make hard choices, the “shared sacrifices” necessary to have some kind of a 2012-13 season on the books.

Would they, or would you, do the same thing if the NHLPA dangled a Franklin in front of your nose for the same purpose? Wait…don’t answer that.

Another telling fact, which comes across like a horsehair bow striking taut strings, is that the league made the gesture in sprawling, lakeside Toronto — home to the union — rather than on their turf in the cold, monolithic expanse of Midtown Manhattan. The Commish is saying “call the tune” with a flourish.

Even though I traded in my fan hat years ago when I was lucky to receive a credential, I ache for a resolution, just like you. I want to work, want to partake in a communal experience that’s different, but no less valid, than yours. I really do. I’m just not blind to certain messages. I’m not an optimist, pessimist, or realist. I put my work into making informed decisions, separate from passion, using as much information as I can gather.

Tell each other what you know, rather than what you believe, and the lines of communication will be open.

The internet, source for a good 97 percent of information regarding the lockout, is accessible to all, bosses and deadlines be damned. From that, you can draw your own conclusions. Don’t let anyone make them for you.

All the same, don’t be taken in by any gestures made from the NHLPA’s end whenever it decides to make its own response public.

It will take time, and just as Bettman said the league didn’t craft its bold step “overnight,” the Fehr brothers and the players should be given that courtesy — provided they don’t simply soak their answer in the same heavy-handed stew like the NHL did yesterday. If so, you have every right to call shenanigans and circle the wagons.

With a conference call scheduled for the end of the last business day, and the input of dozens of salaried skaters needed, you can’t expect a response for at least 48 hours. There’s too much riding on it, and what’s more, the CBA proposal as it exists, is guaranteed to include much more in the fine print than what was reported in boldface.

A refusal by the union to abide by Bettman’s gambit, or a request for further discussion and compromise, shouldn’t give you license to break out the pitchforks and torches and start calling the players a bunch of over-paid pansies and whatnot.

If the perception is that this proposal is a leap in the right direction that needs tweaking, there may actually be hope for late October training camp and a November 2 start date; if the perception is that it’s only a good step towards further negotiation, we’ll see more meetings alongside an inevitable announcement of more cancelled games. Only the former is cause for optimism, while the latter is merely promising. Either way, not cause for extreme reactions.

Just remember, whatever happens, be prepared for an outcome you might not like or agree with. And don’t be caught holding your Wookiee.