Well, that was unexpected.
After days of promising labour discussions taking place between NHL owners and their players at the Westin Times Hotel in New York, NY, it appears as though there truly wasn't much to be "cautiously optimistic" about at all.
Earlier tonight, NHLPA head Donald Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman both staged press conferences in which each party presented different versions of the reality of the latest meetings between both parties. While Fehr preached that the sides were close to reaching a deal, Bettman soon after squashed any notion of labour piece and went so far as to say the league's current "Make Whole" provision, including the additional $100MM which owners were willing infuse their offer with are now off the table completely.
Where Fehr was calm and collected, Bettman was the exact opposite; an unshaven and callously standoffish demeanour set the tone for his 45-minute address and subsequent question and answer period.
For more on the meetings themselves, be sure to check out SB Nation's extensive coverage on today's happenings.
Soon after Fehr and Bettman had concluded their engagements with the media in attendance, the Winnipeg Jets' official website released a statement from team owner Mark Chipman, who expressed his discouragement after being one of six NHL representatives who tirelessly worked to complete a deal this week.
Here's the full transcript of Chipman's address, via the Winnipeg Jets official website:
"I’d like to thank the NHL for giving me the opportunity to participate in this very important process.
I came here optimistic that we could find a solution. That sense of optimism grew after our first few sessions, including the small group discussions late last night.
Regrettably, we have been unable to close the divide on some critical issues that we feel are essential to the immediate and long-term health of our game.
While I sense there are some members of the players association that understand our perspective on these issues, clearly there are many that don’t.
I am deeply disappointed that we were unable to bring this extremely unfortunate situation to a successful conclusion and I wish to apologize to our fans and sponsors for letting them down."
It's unclear if and when both the owners and union will reconvene, though the Commissioner made it very apparent that an abridged offer is now to be expected from the NHLPA.
The players, for their part, would most likely look at decertification of their union as the next possible option.
Once again, fans' optimism has been dashed as we return to yet another stalemate. Although, to quote Mr. Chipman, "disappointed" doesn't even begin to describe it.