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Boulding: NHL labor talks keep getting uglier

For those of you looking to pick up some hockey tickets now that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to adult supervision during their ongoing joke of a labor negotiation, you might want to hold off a little longer. There is absolutely no certainty that a federally-sanctioned mediation service advising on the talks will have any impact on the impasse currently preventing the sport’s top talent from skating around North America.

Until both parties agree to arbitration, or until owners like Jeremy Jacbos – recently called out in the media for helping to perpetuate this circus -  no longer hold tyrannical sway over the less outspoken voices in the back room, there will be little progress made.

All of the posturing, press conferences, threats of decertification, and the rest are meaningless. Want a real gauge for the status of CBA talks? Talk to a player. Stop the guy on the street and ask him what he thinks. Ask him how things are going.

Read the reports from every media outlet you can get your hands on and skip down from the practiced PR babble to the unbridled response of the guy with no job.

“From day one, even in August, we didn’t know how hard they were going to push but they haven’t really started negotiating yet, in my mind. Out of the three proposals we got, two were, I can’t even call them proposals and the third one, I think, was more of a PR scheme,” said NHL defenseman Kyle Quincey at the beginning of the month after the NHL cancelled the Winter Classic.

“Just like the NBA, there’s a drop dead date and that’s when they’ll come to the table, hopefully. And if not, that’s sad.”

Playing with the Denver Cutthroats, under the tutelage of former teammate Derek Armstrong, Quincey has been passing the time until the NHL resumes. He was also slated to play in this season’s Winter Classic, for the Detroit Red Wings.

“Hopefully we get something done and can play it next year,” said Quincey.

It’s hard to ignore not only the words spoken, but also the overall tone of the conversation. It is apparent that, despite claims to the contrary, players are in the know and feel strongly about what is happening between their association and their employer.

Until a player sounds optimistic, confident that both parties are working in the right direction and enthusiastic about a potential starting date, there is no point in worrying about the NHL. It isn’t worth the time.

You can’t control it, so why bother. Time is running out, profits are dwindling, and sponsors are starting to pressure the league to get a deal done – kudos to Molson Coors.

Besides, there are other places for local hockey fans to get a fix in the meantime.

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