You know, the sooner you let go of an idea that owners and (to a somewhat lesser degree) players are anything but two rational economic actors that behave strategically in order to maximize their respective incomes, the less nerves you will burn up thinking about this. They do not and are not really expected to care about the fans feelings, as long as the fans keep buying tix, and otherwise spending money on NHL product.. And as the 3 previous work stoppages have amply demonstrated, we fans are really that dumb and will grumble a bit, but come back and support the NHL, whenever they decide to play hockey again.
I believe its less about pride and self respect. If there was pride and self respect on the line, the players association would have been negotiating in January. If pride and self respect were on the line, then the players association wouldn't be playing the PR role to a T. Lets face facts here, Don Fehr dragged his feet to the start of negotiations, then he drug his feet before he put forward his initial proposal. Fehr wants there to be revenue sharing, and I can understand why the owners don't want the deal based on what revenues could be. Now, the NHL has given the players a new proposal, and Don Fehr won't "play ping pong" and doesn't believe he needs to give the next proposal.
Lets face facts here, the owners are asking for too much. By locking the players out, they are damaging the game of hockey and future revenues. At the same time, and others have said, they feel they have no choice.
I know I have said it before, but I will say it again....
Both sides are in the wrong here. This should have never resulted in a lockout. All the owners have to do is come up a little from their demands, and all the players have to do is come down a little from their demands. As many have said here, its a game of chicken. Who will blink first?
I am not waiting around for either side to blink. Both sides can go jump off a cliff.
So your idea, that with different negotiating teams and/or more time, the compromise would have been found, is not plausible. Personalities and negotiating tactics are determined by the strategic goals, not the other way around. In other words, the players hired Fehr to do exactly what he is doing, and the owners pay Bettman to do exactly what he does. If either side wanted a compromise, they would have behaved differently.
From what we've seen so far, the owners are trying to crush the PA yet again, and the players are determined to not be crushed like it happened the last time. At the very least, the players want to make the owners victory so costly, that the owners may hesitate to do this again in the future. Both sides are following thought out strategies, and I don't see a quick resolution, unless something fundamental changes.