Are the NHL and NHLPA finally coming to their senses?
After the emotional cancellation of the Winter Classic on Friday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special assistant Steve Fehr met into the early morning hours in an undisclosed location on Saturday night. That has apparently kick-started negotiations once again, as multiple reports are saying the two factions will get together again in New York on Tuesday. Previously, the sides had not met since Oct. 18, when the league rejected three counter-proposals from the NHLPA within minutes. It's unclear whether or not commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA head Donald Fehr will rejoin the discussions.
In fact, talks are expected to last all week long, according to CSNPhilly.coms Tim Panaccio. The league would also like to keep things mum with the media after Tuesdays session, and after the rhetoric thats been spewed on both sides throughout the eight-week lockout, can only be viewed as a positive.
While an 82-game schedule and the marquee regular season event are out the window, the league and players do have time to cobble together a 64-to-72 game slate, so long as an agreement is in place relatively quickly. Last seasons 66-game NBA season began on Christmas Day, although in that league, each team had multiple occurrences of three games in three nights. Thats not likely to happen in the much more physically demanding sport of hockey, despite the regularity of it in the AHL.
To date, the NHL has canceled all games through the month of November, representing more than a quarter of the regular season.
If an agreement can be reached, it would minimize the damage among fans that suffered through 2004-05, when a labor dispute resulted in a completely lost season.
Theres still work to be done, but theres optimism in the air.