Deadline? What Deadline?
When a deadline isn't really a deadline, it doesn't really work the way a deadline should. Or could.
So among the many and various reasons why there appears to be no urgency on the part of the NHL or NHLPA as Saturday's line in the sand drawn by Gary Bettman approaches is that it really doesn't denote a significant day or point in the schedule.
Saturday will come and Saturday will go and nothing of substance will have changed for either side.
Yes, the players will be locked out, but they aren't in camp and camp was still a few days away. More to the point, it's understandable that any deadline that doesn't have a paycheque attached to it, or the loss of one, would mean a great deal or begin the uncomfortable shifting in chairs at union meetings when the next vote comes.
The owners, on the other hand, already have season ticket money and as of yet no expenses to pay out, notably none for player salaries.
Saturday is hardly a time for them to start to worry about their hockey business or the season.
The real deadline here, folks, is weeks away. Maybe months. It's not a date in September or October, for sure, and quite possibly not November.
This Saturday, really, is most significant as a media date. Both the league and union always intended to blow right through it, or wouldn't they have had at least one marathon session by now aimed at reaching a new agreement.
Saturday isn't meaningless - in legal and labour relations law, it needs to be checked off - but neither is it meaningful.
So don't sweat it. They aren't. There hasn't been a concession made either way, or even a single agreement on the thousands of clauses that will ultimately make up the new CBA.
The players, right now, are in the business of demonstrating to themselves that they can stand together. That's their No. 1 priority, now that their dream play of asking the owners to keep skating under the old deal has fizzled.
We'll see whether they're any more united this time than last time. Last time, don't forget, there was lots of talk about how the owners were foolish to challenge hockey players to a fight, and that turned out to be a joke.
There's absolutely no evidence the NHLPA will stand together this time, either. The union has been stitched together and appearances are improved, but proof of a stronger union won't come until they've been through a tough battle together.
The league's No. 1 priority, meanwhile, is getting the players to accept 50 per cent of "Hockey Related Revenue" - or less - and so far the players have simply offered to slow the rate that their salaries increase.
For many of the corporations that own teams, hockey is a small part of their overall business and profits that are made aren't made in October and November.
So while a countdown of sorts is on to Saturday, don't bother watching the clock.