The NHL lockout reached its 80th day Tuesday with the two sides arriving in meetings with rested sets of eyes and fresh voices, the same essential goal but still very different views on marriage. Until their positions take dramatic turns, you can expect mostly the same rhetoric and definitely the same result.
Gary Bettman and his cronies and Donald Fehr and his brother were so far apart in negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement that federal mediators summoned for Battle Royale Redux listened for two days and hit the road. The lift was too heavy, so they packed up their belongings for cases in which they could make a difference.
This lockout could end, with players and owners resuming the theft of your money, in short order if they settled on one issue rather be divided by a million. The federal mediators arrived with non-binding suggestions, stripping them of their power. For them, a few days in this mess amounted to a waste of breath.
If the two sides really wanted a settlement, if they really wanted something fair that would restore peace, they should call an independent arbiter to sort through the carnage and draw up a binding agreement. The NHL and the NHLPA already are playing high-stakes poker, so let's increase the ante for one final hand.
One man gets final word, no appeals, end of story. Who's in?
The two sides could call almost anyone. Hockey experience not required. Common sense is encouraged. Anyone who has been in a room with Bettman, Bill Daly or the Brothers Fehr need not apply. Call Desmond Tutu for heaven's sake.
Buffalo-based Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs had a seat in the meeting Tuesday, but it might as well have been Bettman. Jacobs is the last guy players want to see in desperation because he's the owner they trust the least. He's had Bettman's ear for years and was a reason they had their clocks cleaned in 2004-05.
Or did they?
Conviction to fundamental issues has not wavered on either side. It would take a monumental shift in principle from both to reach an agreement, which is why no deal is imminent. By the looks of things, the only way a CBA is reached in time to save the season is by players taking a beating.
I'll say it again: right and wrong, fair and unfair, none of it matters. Owners have more time and money than the players. Billionaires usually beat millionaires in disputes over money. It's not likely to change this time whether it's Donald Fehr or Donald Duck overseeing the players' association.
The players are right, by the way, and have been all along. The revenue-sharing problem isn't with owners and players. It's with owners and owners. Can you imagine a player scoring 15 goals one year, 20 the next, demanding a 33 percent raise? He would have been laughed out of the building.
Then again, if the players accepted the 24 percent rollback and agreed to the 50-50 revenue split months ago, they would have saved money. One-third of the regular season already is lost. How many fans? We'll see. Revenue soared after the last lockout, so perhaps Bettman & Co., view a work stoppage as good for business.
I'm sympathetic toward people who rely on the game for their income, from ticket takers to bartenders, but that's about all. You might think the lockout would affect my life given my responsibilities. In fact, it did. It changed for the better.
The lockout gave me new perspective about the NHL and allowed me to cover other sports that I always enjoyed, such as college football and basketball. Jerry Sullivan and I have been putting together a new weekly program — cheap plug alert! — called the “Bucky & Sully Show” that airs on Friday mornings at buffalonews.com.
The NHL lockout prompted this column, which doesn't limit me to hockey. It opens doors to numerous ideas in all sports, and it's been refreshing. Hockey is a great game that can be entertaining on all levels. Plenty remains in Buffalo.
I'm starting to view the NHL the way I do a pet fish. If it dies, I'll flush it down the toilet and move on with my life. You might say there are other fish in the sea. The NHL is loaded with sharks.
Bowe's unwelcome gesture
People manage personal grief in individual ways, but something is wrong when Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe takes the required steps to have a T-shirt made up to commemorate Jovan Belcher after the linebacker gunned down his girlfriend and orphaned their 3-month-old child.
The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday that Belcher kissed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, after killing her, kissed their daughter and drove to Arrowhead Stadium before killing himself. The tragedy, which came after months of problems between Belcher and Perkins, was the latest example of domestic violence.
For Bowe, it was an opportunity to honor his friend, his teammate, a murderer.
Bowe posted a picture on Twitter of himself pointing toward heaven while wearing the T-shirt, which had a photo of a smiling Belcher in his No. 59 jersey. Perkins was the first cousin of running back Jamaal Charles' wife, but who cares? And to make matters worse, in his heartwarming tribute, Bowe misspelled Jovan with “Javon.”
Ali collectibles a knockout
The gloves worn by Muhammad Ali during his famous championship fight with Sonny Liston in 1964 and the pair he wore against Joe Frazier in 1971 were sold for $385,848 apiece in an auction last week by the family of trainer Angelo Dundee.
Dundee collected more than 100 items from his career while helping Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard reach the top of their weight classes. Dundee died last February. His family planned to use the money to pay for medical expenses for Dundee's daughter, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
“It's kind of bittersweet,” Dundee's son, Jim, told the Associated Press. “These have been in our possession for nearly 50 years. Dad would bring them home and I would store them.”
Collectors put their money were Ali's mouth was.
Included in the auction was a plaster cast of Ali's teeth, used to make his mouthpiece, that sold for $5,027; an X-ray signed by Ken Norton after he broke Ali's jaw that sold for $1,517 and Ali's last mouthpiece, which sold for $6,691. Do I hear $10,000 for dental floss?
The wrong message
The NFL made progress when addressing concussion problems with more stringent testing, but the league's efforts will take a step back if players stop reporting symptoms for fear of losing their jobs.
Niners quarterback Alex Smith was third in passer rating when he was replaced by Colin Kaepernick in the offense. San Francisco lost last week to St. Louis, but coach Jim Harbaugh decided to stay with the kid. A concussion sidelined Michael Vick, and the Eagles turned to rookie backup Nick Foles.
It's a matter of time before players hide concussion problems and risk injury. In fact, it's probably already gone unnoticed.
Kennedy's career reborn
South Buffalo native Tim Kennedy appears to have his career back in the right direction with the San Jose Sharks.
Kennedy had a difficult time since 2010, when the Sabres bought out his contract and waived him for taking them to arbitration.
Kennedy was tied for third in the AHL scoring race while leading Worcester with 11 goals and 23 points in 22 games. He was named AHL Player of the Week Monday after scoring five goals and setting up another in three games last weekend. He has 54 points in 56 games with Worcester.
And he's still praising Buffalo.
“It's a great place to live,” Kennedy told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. “You look at the news and see that we get these lake-effect snowstorms and you see six or eight feet of snow, or you drive into the city and see a bad neighborhood, and people think that's all there is.
“But we've got great neighborhoods, great restaurants, there's a lot to do. I think that most players who come to Buffalo for hockey wind up staying here with their families because it's a great place to raise a family.”
37 - Points scored by Georgetown in its one-point win over Tennessee, the Hoyas' lowest winning output since 1984 (also 37-36, over SMU).
32 - Field goals made in 36 attempts during a six-game stretch by the Knicks' Tyson Chandler, who had no more than one miss in any contest.
51 - Consecutive victories in basketball for Syracuse, in November and December, since they lost to Cleveland State on Dec. 15, 2008.
Celtics guard Jason Terry on Nets forward Kris Humphries: “Some guys are tough. Some guys pretend to be. He's one of those that pretends to be. I played with him.”
• Kentucky, the No. 8 team in the country last week, became the highest-ranked team to be dropped from the Top 25 in one week since polls expanded in 1988-89. Gone along with the 54-game home winning streak are Twitter accounts of four players who were bombarded with negative comments after losing to unranked Baylor.
• Kansas City fans couldn't help but wonder if the winning Powerball ticket sold in Missouri was connected to the Royals. The numbers chosen were numbers of popular players George Brett (5), Bo Jackson (16), Dennis Leonard (22), Mark Gubicza (23) and Dan Quisenberry (29). Willie Wilson (6) was the Powerball number. “Totally random,” winner Cindy Hill told reporters, “although we love the Royals.”
• My two cents on the baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be inducted. Major League Baseball did not have a policy banning performance-enhancing drugs, and both players dominated without them.
Sammy Sosa, who averaged 58 homers between 1998-2002, the juice era, doesn't belong because he wasn't good enough.