Is anybody strong enough to look weak? Is anybody smart enough? Because somebody will have to budge for the NHL and the NHL Players' Association to reach a labor agreement, and this is the last chance to strike the best deal for everybody involved.
The league and union just spent three days dithering over details while entrenched on the big issues, and they are scheduled to meet again Tuesday in New York. It's October. The season is supposed to start Oct. 11. The league is on the cusp of canceling real games.
Are these guys going to reach a compromise in a couple of months, when they could have reached one today without losing short- term money and risking long-term growth? Or is this lockout going turn into a battle of wills – each side digging in deeper, waiting for the other to break, going for the win – snowballing into a larger disaster?
This is a real deadline, and that calls for real proposals, and that calls for leadership. You've got to think one or both sides will make a last-ditch effort this week, but it's got to be a genuine effort to save the start of the season, not just a transparent effort to save face.