Whenever NHL owners start handing out bloated contracts like toothpick-stabbed samples of Chinese pork at a mall food court, they're lambasted for being irresponsible or negligent in respecting the economic limits they, themselves, established. As this CBA term comes to an end and the lockout likely begins, the reckless millions they've spent on players in the last few years are cast in a new light: The twisted genius of causing your own problem, bitching about it and then already knowing what the likely solution is going to be. So they'd sign a player to a huge contract, call the current players' percentage of revenue unsustainable and then wait until Gary Bettman and the NHL got them their salary rollback in the next CBA negotiation, either in the traditional sense or through increased escrow payments. From Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports: Though the sides have inched closer, they remain entrenched in their core economic positions — the owners demanding the players accept that pay cut immediately and shrink their share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to less than 50; the players offering to limit their raises and keep their share of HRR above 50 percent. The dance has gone like this for months: The players fighting to keep their share of the revenue well above 50 percent, and allowing for a deadening of salary escalation in subsequent years; the NHL asking for immediate salary relief, more decline in wages and for mechanisms like arbitration to be gutted or eliminated to help them from climbing again. Michael Grange from Sportsnet breaks it down: The nut of the matter is the players would still be guaranteed more money each of the next four years -- a pay increase when the owners want them to take a pay cut. The gap between what the owners are offering and the players are willing to take is about $210 million next season alone. To put it another way, if there is a lockout -- and it seems like there will be one -- it will be because the owners and the players have agreed on one essential issue: Neither wants to leave the money they get out of this deal to chance. Neither wants to assume the risk of not making more money in the years to come. The owners want their savings on player salaries immediately and they want it guaranteed. The players want all the money they're making now as well as raises of two, four and six per cent, compounded, over the next three years. Now that we're all staring into the abyss of a work stoppage, the pay cut is at the heart of the stalemate. And as games are cancelled and fans grow bitter, one can already see the seeds taking root for animosity towards the players. Like how one of the most popular players in the League was given the Dan Ellis treatment on Twitter last night.