Don Fehr and his brother Steve are now out on a limb with their union and the entire hockey world waiting to see if the gamble pays off.
The Fehrs have the constituents of the NHLPA convinced they can get them a better deal by waiting and forcing the NHL to bend once again.
The "let’s meet and see what happens," offer they made the league on Tuesday is simply cover. The Fehrs don’t want to meet and make a deal right now. It’s the opposite. They want to stall and see if they can squeeze ownership just a little more.
The Fehrs were told by the league earlier this week no talks would take place unless the union had a new proposal to table or wanted to negotiate on the NHL’s last offer.
The union is unprepared to do either at this juncture. So why make a bunch of public noise about wanting to meet? To convince fans they want to make a deal right now and to keep restless players at bay.
The NHL has established a trend of bending so far in these negotiations and the Fehr brothers have seen no reason to not keep pushing for more.
Will the league capitulate once more? We’re going to see, but if the league blows off a bunch of November games on Friday a clear message will be sent to the players.
"We’re not budging. This is the best economic offer we have."
The latest stall tactic of the union’s could be expensive. The next block of games to be cancelled will cost the players more in terms of money lost this season than the economic concessions the NHL has asked for in its 50-50 package.
There is also the threat of the NHL’s offer getting smaller the longer the lockout continues.
There is a theory the Fehr brothers promised the players they could land a better deal than those signed at 50-50 by the NBA and NFL and that’s why they don’t want to reach an agreement right now.
The next 48 hours will tell us a lot. Is the league willing to bend again as it has before? Or will the league hold its water and sit stone-faced, cancelling games and burning players’ paycheques?
It’s high-stakes chicken right now, with the players caught in the middle and fans locked outside with their noses pressed against the glass.