Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 8/18/12

There are now less than thirty days before the owner's September 15 deadline to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place for the NHL. Meanwhile, what appeared to be progress made earlier this past week was rapidly squandered when news broke that the gap between the NHL and NHLPA is quite immense in terms of cash and desires. So you do the math; this isn't looking very satisfying. 

Over a month ago, the League and the owners, led by commissioner Gary Bettman, laid out their plans for the new CBA that is supposed to be in the works already. Just this past Tuesday, the NHLPA responded with their counterproposal, and with that alone, the situation showed some promise since the two sides were conversing at the very least. 

However, as more and more details related to the players' counterproposal leaked, the more hope everyone lost that this already challenging feat of writing up a new CBA by mid-September would actually be conquered. Just for starters, they couldn't agree on the length of the new contract, their requests for revenue sharing were miles apart, the League's restrictions set forth in their proposal were shot down by the players (each and every one of them), and now, to bring the entire mess full circle, they haven't made a decision on which proposal to actually base the beginning of the negotiating process on. 

Following the news, Gary Bettman was quite blunt in his public statement when saying that the League and the P.A. are nowhere close to being on the same page. Donald Fehr, on the other hand, expressed that their side of the debate still holds hope that the basis of negotiations will be constituted on their proposal. Bettman and Fehr, by the way, have not spoken since this all unfolded back on Wednesday when the two met following the players' counterproposal presentation the day before.

To recap:

- Only one set of ideas has been presented by each side. 

- An overwhelming majority of those ideas are on different planets in terms of relation. 

- There is no base set of ideas on which to begin negotiating on. 

- The two sides have not spoken in what is now going on three days. 

The saddest part of all of this is that it's no longer becoming a matter of working out differences, but rather seeing who will blink first and prove to be the weaker party mentally. Bettman and Fehr, at this point in time, are simply exchanging puffs of the chest with their comments made in the media, making this more about themselves than the actual CBA. 

Here's a question to ponder for the day... Which set of opposing forces will bring a more heated debate in 2012; Gary Bettman vs. Donald Fehr or Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama? I can just picture Pierre McGuire sitting at a small desk on the NBC Sports Network set with Bettman on a podium to his left and Fehr on a podium to his right, acting as a hockey-style moderator for the clash of the year. 

All kidding aside, there's no telling just how long this staring contest will go on for, and when legitimate progress and strides will actually be made. 

"Nobody on the players' side is talking about stopping the season," Fehr told the press on Friday. "Nobody on the players' side is saying we have negotiations up to a date and then that's all. I've been in experiences before where we play without a contract under the old rules and you continue negotiating until you find a deal. We certainly hope there isn't. We certainly don't think there's a reason for it."

But Bettman has already made it crystal clear that the owners' side of things will not be allowing the start of the 2012-13 season to go on with the old CBA under any circumstances. If things do not progress before September 15, which I now highly doubt they will to an extent that is significant enough to see the Rangers open their campaign in Los Angeles in October, the season will come to a postponement until an agreement is reached, or even worse, there will be no season at all; something I have a feeling neither side will allow to happen just because of the repercussions such events had last time around.

While this stalemate between the NHL and NHLPA lengthens, Fehr has continued to hold player meetings in various cities in preparation for when talks do resume. That's pretty much the only thing he can do right now, at least until Mr. Bettman decides to crawl out of his shell. Fehr has expressed that there is nothing but unity on the players' half of things, but unfortunately that's probably the only case of unity we will be seeing for a long while. 

"Players understand what is going on, understand what the issues are and understand how the owners' proposal will affect them," Fehr said. "Understand how this compares to what happened seven years ago ... understand that this will affect their lives if we can't find a way through this in the immediate future."

As do the fans....

**Reminder to follow The Rangers Tribune on it's new Twitter account, @RangersTribune. You will automatically be entered for a chance to win a free Rick Nash player-tee.**

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