After two weeks of glacier-pace activity, the ice block surrounding NHL lockout negotiations has begun to show the slightest signs of melting.
At long last, the owners and players are talking again. Per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun via Twitter:
Bill Daly and Steve Fehr have tentatively agreed on resuming bargaining, however, they've yet to agree on the format, the location, the day
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) November 2, 2012
The NHL and NHLPA plan to schedule a set of meetings today that will re-spark negotiations by next week, according to TSN's Darren Dreger:
NHL has internal mtngs today and will talk with PA (phone). Players are hopeful of face to face negotiations this wknd or early next week.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 2, 2012
Today's progressive activities occur one day after the two foes communicated for the first time since Oct. 18. Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
Daly confirmed by email Wednesday that he and Steve Fehr..."had a substantive call" Tuesday. ...The details of the conversation Tuesday aren't known, but it was different from ones the two men have had before, and might be described as a form of negotiating.
But Daly cautioned that the sides "don't yet know what, if anything, will come of" the conversation.
When will the lockout end?
Nonetheless, despite this week's minor glimpses of optimism, the Winter Classic is expected to officially meet its' fate in a league announcement Friday. Per TSN's Bob McKenzie, "[My] expectation is NHL will cancel Winter Classic later today."
The recent surge in news comes after an antarctic second half of October, which contained essentially no significant happenings in the NHL universe. The two sides failed to meet for two weeks after a mid-October proposal breakthrough and subsequent fiery exchange of public bashing.
Meanwhile, a number of (perhaps former) Russian NHL-ers—including the Hurricanes' Alexander Semin and the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk—threatened to remain in Europe if the eventual CBA, if that ever happens, doesn't suit their liking.
Negotiations beginning next week would, however, continue to keep this fall's NHL lockout in the pattern set by the NBA's autumn 2011 work stoppage. On Oct. 28, 2011, NBA lockout talks "fell through" and games were cancelled until Nov. 30.
To which date are 2012 NHL games currently cancelled?
When did that cancellation occur?
If hockey follows basketball's tracks throughout the rest of the year, that's good news for lonely NHL fanatics—the 2011 NBA lockout ended on Nov. 26 and a shortened, 66-game season began on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
Stay tuned for more breaking news updates as the 2012 NHL Lockout enters its latest phase of negotiations.
Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009. He has written more than 430 articles and received more than 730,000 reads.