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Negotiations? Yawwwwn... just let us know when it's over

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IT wasn't too long ago when news of the NHL and the NHLPA getting together for meetings had everyone associated with the game -- players, owners, fans, media -- gleefully rubbing their hands together at the thought of a potential resolution.

And now that the lockout has entered its' third month? Not so much.

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In fact, the back and forth between the two sides has become such a tiresome tug-of-war, the public shots and posturing so ridiculous it seems many now have adopted a new approach: wake us up when this whole nightmare is over.

An example: there were a half dozen NHLers skating at MTS Iceplex again on Monday and afterward, when asked about the NHL-NHLPA discussions set to begin again in New York -- with new faces and voices said to be involved -- the response was a collective shrug.

"(The NHL) has had their gameplan the whole time. I don't think a (new face) is going to make a difference in the outcome of what their gameplan was or change it at all," said Andrew Ladd. "Hopefully we can just find some common ground and we can move this thing forward and it's not the take it or leave it that they've been giving us for the last little bit here."

And when it was suggested that the only way the lockout gets resolved is for one side to give up some ground in the negotiations, Ladd offered up a strong indication of how entrenched the NHLPA still seems to be with its position.

"I can tell you, it's not going to come from our end unless we see some willingness to find some middle ground," Ladd said. "It's tough to negotiate with people that are saying take it or leave it. They're taking a lot of it and we're not getting much the other way."

And so the insanity continues...

-- Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg fired a shot at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, telling TSN 1050: "You do try to look at the best-case scenarios moving forward once the CBA does get done, and you gotta look for the cancers and you gotta cut out the cancers and I think that when you look at Bill Daly and Bettman, they've been looting this game for far too long."

-- In Montreal, Louis Jean of TVA Sports reported players were skating there wearing hats that read "Puck Gary" -- a move obviously not sanctioned by the players association.

-- Then there's this nugget which should have the NHL bean counters deeply troubled: Kraft has cancelled its 2013 Hockeyville promotion because of the lockout and instead will distribute $1 million to minor-hockey associations across the Canada.

All this after a weekend in which Ian White of the Detroit Red Wings called Bettman an 'idiot' and after a Philadelphia Daily News story suggested that Flyers' owner Ed Snider is growing discontent with the lockout. Snider denied as much in a statement and, in an interview Bettman did with colleague Gary Lawless on Sunday, the story was called a 'fabrication.'

None of this gives anybody that warm-fuzzy feeling a deal is close to being done.

"I'm sure everybody wants to play," said Ladd. "I get asked that all the time. Of course we want to play, but we want to get a fair deal. I'm sure there are lots of teams that would want to get going. There's so many teams with great momentum from last season... Florida making the playoffs, Phoenix and the great run they had... this is ruining those markets.

"The best thing for the game is to get back as soon as possible."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 20, 2012 D3

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