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Saturday serenade...and solutions?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman leaves following labor talks

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman leaves following labor talks in New York on Nov. 9, 2012. Credit: AP

If all the world’s a stage, as the bard wrote, and all the men and women are merely players, we are firmly in another intermission in the NHL’s approximation of “As You Like It”.

The tempest certainly swept in on Thursday, with the attendant melodrama: Donald Fehr---flanked by the ice soldiers---essentially proclaiming a deal was close. Then the dark voice mail from the enemy, a reassembling of the cast and disappointed words, followed by the march onto the Westin Hotel platform and a fiery proclamation from Gary Bettman, assailing the tactics, sweeping money off the table, and striding away.

So now the quiet, necessary interlude, a time for stepping back and assessment, a weekend for wine and cheese and not blood and bombast.

To be honest, as I Tweeted soon after the dust settled, there is middle ground visible, landscape for compromise, on the leftover issues, if what we are being told is indeed true, and really, who can count on that anymore?

If the $300 million for guaranteeing contracts is really off the table, return it. Win for owners.

Eight-year deal sought. Ten-year deal demanded?  How about nine with opt-outs? Gets you through the 100thanniversary of the league. Both sides win.

Five-year term limits on contracts. Seven? Eight?  Break it down by age. Maybe three levels. Longer for younger players, shorter for old.  Union has come down from no limit on deals, remember.  League wins.  

Transition rules? There’s probably a reason there’s been no discussion on this---according to both sides. Not a huge stumbling block in the big picture.

Logic and reason fled this territory long ago, as the Winter Classic---a signature event for the league---was washed away.  

A 48-to-50 game season is the sad pennant tantalizingly flapping in the wind, a vestige of ‘94-95, when the Rolling Stones---still swinging, albeit a little creakier, today--- were on the “Voodoo Lounge” tour.  

But now North American youth, the NHL’s next legit market, are social media maniacs and listening to Reptile Youth, MSMR, Florence and The Machine, Edward Sharpe and Lupe Fiasco.

Speaking of fiascos…see you Sunday.  I'm going to cut down a fir tree.

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