The NHL Lockout and Randy Edsall..A look inside

There’s no big secret, really. If you want to get the inside scoop on what’s going on inside, go inside. Talk to the people close to the core and get their take. If you want to know what’s going on inside the NHL labor talks, talk to people who live inside the sport. I did. My take was, as soon as the NHL starts taking games off the table the advantage would shift to the players. I was convinced that union chief Donald Fehr told the players as much when he told them that accepting the owners 50-50 proposal would cost them $1.6 billion over three years. Once the owners started losing game revenues they would move in the players direction and off their 50-50 posture. Those who cover the game from the inside disagreed. The owners had already cancelled a season to protect their revenues and many of them lose less money not playing games than they do when they have to pay salaries and venue costs. Fehr, on the other hand, may have a difficult time convincing players at the top of the salary scale, who worked hard for years to get there and are seeing a season get away late in their careers, not to break from the ranks. This week the players offered a return to the bargaining table, the owners refused, knowing the deadline for saving a full season would pass and games would start coming off the board. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m going with the insiders on this one, but I’ll give Bettman a suggestion that will take him one step farther than he’s gone. If you really are willing to sacrifice a season, let the players know up front. Tell them, no deal by December 1st and you’ll call the whole thing off, not a threat, a promise, and work out a new collective bargaining agreement with no sword over your head, nothing to think about but bargaining. It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything out of Maryland. The yelling and screaming of a year ago over what old friend Randy Edsall had done to the State U football program has gone quiet. No calls for his head, no “Edsall Must Go Right Now” columns from John Feinstein. Last week was Alumni Weekend at Maryland, so to find out what’s causing the change in environment I went inside, talked to some alums who were there. By and large they weren’t unhappy with the close loss to N. C. State because they felt the players competed right to the end for Edsall and more and more, now that the malcontents, who were unhappy over the firing of Ralph Friedgen and felt Edsall wasn’t their guy, have left the program and stopped being a distraction, Edsall is able to get down to business with the guys who stayed and are buying in. The Terrapins are 4-3 and, while the iron of the schedule, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State are still in front of them, many of the alums who were part of that loud throng a year ago now feel by this time next year, when Edsall’s own recruits have become part of the mix, Randy might be the big man on campus again, a different campus. If you want to know what’s going on inside, go inside. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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