Could NHL lockout be nearing its end?

December 5, 2012, 12:30 pm
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Collective bargaining negotiations resumed in New York on Wednesday afternoon, with a palpable feeling that the NHL’s 80-day lockout could finally be nearing its conclusion.

Representatives from both sides met for more than eight hours on Tuesday, with new owners and players in the room while commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Donald Fehr sat out. After the meeting, the NHLPA’s Steve Fehr said, “It might be the best day we’ve had so far.”

On Wednesday morning, the league’s Board of Governors, including Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and executive vice president and general counsel John Tortora, held a two-hour meeting that served mainly as an update. The commissioner took to the podium after that meeting for an extremely brief statement in which he said that he’s “pleased with the process that is ongoing,” but did not want to comment further. He did not take any questions.

While an agreement is certainly not inevitable, there is enough optimism that many have begun speculating just when and how long a shortened NHL season would begin. Some have suggested that a 54-to-60-game schedule would be reasonable, so long as the season starts before Christmas. If an agreement is reached, players would likely need two to three days to return to their teams as well as a week-long training camp before games would begin.

In 1994-95, the last time the NHL played a shortened season, an agreement was reached on Jan. 11 and a 48-game schedule started on Jan. 20.

The NHL has already cancelled all games through Dec. 14, the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, and the All-Star Game in Columbus.