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December 3, 2012 | 12:49pm ET
NHL COO none too pleased
 As the NHL lockout enters the holiday season, nobody, including NHL COO John Collins, is in a jovial mood.

TORONTO -- I've been relatively quiet lately about the NHL's labor negotiation. In fact, it's been one month since I last wrote about the lockout.

Frankly, I've had better things to do. We've been busy with the magazine, I've been to Montreal, Los Angeles and Chicago for some great photo shoots with some great players, and I honestly rather not get all worked up over the same crap that's been tossed around week after week. We get it, you're all disappointed.

When I look back at some of the stuff I've written about this lockout, I take notice in the dates. August was big, then for almost two months nothing really happened. November rolled around and everyone got excited again... for one week.

Now, as we enter the holiday season, the owners and players are set to meet, followed by the NHL's Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday. What will come out of this? Probably nothing. Do you really expect the owners, who will have Jeremy Jacobs in the room, to sympathize with the players and their lost wages? (By the way, did you know Bill Daly and Steve Fehr will join tomorrow's meeting?)

And do you think think Jacobs gives a crap what Jim Dolan and the rest of the BOG have to say? (Wishful thinking suggest "he'd have no choice.")

For the record, this isn't simply the owners giving the players the middle finger; I still believe both the NHL and the NHLPA need to give-and-take before all is said and done.

Whatever happens tomorrow (owners include Boston's Jacobs, Calgary's Murray Edwards, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum, Winnipeg's Mark Chipman, Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle and Tampa's Jeffrey Vinik; players expected include Jonathan Toews, George Parros, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller and Shane Doan -- though more NHLers will be in NYC tomorrow and they'll formally decide as a group as to which players will jump in the meeting with the owners) could have an affect on how Wednesday's BOG play out. If, by some miracle, common sense prevails, we might be able to figure this whole mess out.

But I'm done being optimistic. Almost.

I want the season back up and running, I want to see which player lights it up this year, I want to see Ilya Bryzgalov talk about Huskies and blondes and spaceships, and I want fans to boo Gary Bettman when he presents the Stanley Cup -- because that means one will be awarded and that's what fans do.

I'm without a doubt not the only person frustrated by all of this, and I'm extremely intrigued when I hear the important folks voice their concerns (even through third-party sources).

Remember when Detroit Red Wings Senior VP Jimmy Devellano spoke a little too honestly (by the way, he referred to himself as cattle, too, so give the guy a break), or when Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk told a Toronto radio station "this should not happen" and worries fans might not come back, similarly to how he became disinterested in MLB after the 1994 strike (I don't think he was slapped with a fine, like he'd pay it, anyway)?

Remember when reportedly someone in Ed Snider's camp told the Philadelphia Daily News he's pissed off, or when someone reportedly told Comcast Sportsnet New England that Jacobs told one of the NHL's newest alternate governors to sit in the corner and drink from his sippy cup?

Remember when some of the NHL's top sponsors (PepsiCo, Bauer, Canadian Tire, etc.) have started to allocate their dollars elsewhere, or when some (Kraft) have already done that, or when others (Molson) have threatened to seek damages as a result of the lockout?

This whole situation is just full of sunshine and smiley faces, isn't it?

Well, here's the latest.

It seems the frustration surrounding the lockout has made its way deep into the NHL office. John Collins, the NHL's COO, isn't a happy camper. The man responsible for spearheading the Winter Classic, moving the NHL Awards to Las Vegas, getting the NHL back on a major network (NBC), significantly expanding the League's digital reach, and so on, is ticked off. And rightfully so.

Imagine getting to the office every day and having to deal with an inbox full of disgruntled emails and a voice mail loaded with "call me back, immediately" messages. Not only has the NHL significantly wounded itself (again, not just a one-way street) with this lockout, but it's causing more headaches for Collins than he needs.

In news first reported by Joey "Vendetta" (well connected to the NHL, and no, that's not his real last name), it has been speculated that Collins is considering and exploring all of his options. Whether he decides to leave is an entirely different matter, but I've been told by multiple sources that he's "upset" -- not only by the length of the lockout, but by being shut out of the negotiation process, which, by itself, raises eyebrows.

Collins, an award-winning businessman aficionado, who made his bones on a much bigger NFL stage, has been one of the NHL's top assets since the 2004-05 lockout (he first jumped on board in late-2006). League revenues have jumped approximately 150% since he joined the NHL, and it's no secret the League can't afford to lose him.

Now, this doesn't mean he's walking out the door tomorrow. He'll probably stay (his contract is significant enough), but the mere notion that he's irked by all of this is truly telling. And the fact that it's being whispered now, at this point in time, might not bode well for this week's CBA meetings.

Hey, Comrade... GFY

Ah, the thrills of playing overseas. Sometimes you get paid, sometimes you don't.

While most NHLers spending the lockout in leagues in Europe and Russia haven't experienced too many troubles (outside of being bored off their asses), there always seems to be some kind of beef coming out of the KHL.

Earlier today, I was informed that Avtomobilist, the KHL's last place team, is in HUGE financial turmoil. They're hemorrhaging. They're in such a bad spot, that the team might have to fold.

What that means for some of its players, I don't know. Toronto Maple Leafs star Joffrey Lupul joined that club last month, and while the experience has been eye-opening, the team has been horrible.

According to multiple sources, some (if not all) of Avtomobilist's players haven't received their latest round of payment. I honestly don't know where Lupul stands in that department (I haven't been able to reach him since Friday -- I fearfully picture him sitting in a dark, wet Soviet prison -- I kid, I kid), but I'd imagine he's in a similar boat.

What happens now remains to be seen. I don't know how the team can just all of a sudden disappear. The KHL could step in for the balance of the season and lend support, which appears likely. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

As for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Co... don't worry, they're getting paid. Well.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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ARCHIVES 
Nov. 04, 2012 Slowly, progress being made
Nov. 02, 2012 NHL, NHLPA set to meet
Aug. 30, 2012 Framework in place?
Aug. 28, 2012 Not so fast, NHL
Aug. 21, 2012 Negotiations set to intensify
Aug. 14, 2012 Positive signs stem from PA proposal
Aug. 13, 2012 NHLPA to present "alternative view"

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