NHL Lockout 2012: Cancellation of Winter Classic Won't Derail NHLPA Talks

Ethan GrantAnalyst INovember 4, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It's the 50th day of the NHL Lockout, and news of the cancellation of the Winter Classic has fans everywhere wondering if the 2012-13 season will ever get underway. Don't despair, NHL junkies, as the latest news points to things getting started before it's too late.

The NHL and NHLPA apparently held "secret" meetings in an undisclosed location on Saturday, trying to amicably solve this issue that has cost the league over a quarter of the 2012-13 season.

Here's the story, per the Los Angeles Times:

NHL, players union restart labor talks in 'secret' location lat.ms/Ry9Rd6

— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 3, 2012

NHL players are trying to stay in shape for an impending season, but this latest cancellation of the January 1 game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs does leave the season further in doubt with every passing day.

Although the Winter Classic is a heavy blow to an already disheartening situation, the league can still salvage both the game and the season in the next couple of weeks. It is not the last straw in keeping things together for the league, nor is it all bad news on the lockout front.

According to this article from CBC Sports, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was impressed with the volume and direction of the CBA talks this weekend. The article states that the NHL is willing to budge a little on the "make-whole" issue that has been slowing talks down, a form of revenue sharing that leaves the players with less value in future earnings.

NHLPA council Steve Fehr was reportedly heavily involved in the meetings, another good sign towards lifting the lockout and setting out some tentative dates.

"We met on and off for most of the day and covered a lot of ground," Daly told The Canadian Press via email. "We plan to meet again early in the week."

As the war of legality rages on for the third time in two summers in major pro sports (NFL, NBA lockouts last season), all signs point to things coming to a head in the next week or so.

If the league can't come to an agreement before the middle of November, it could be entering uncharted waters in crafting a schedule, getting in a brief training camp and finding a way for teams to prepare for one of the most physical sports on the planet.

But for now, don't take the Winter Classic as something that completely steals hope for the NHL season. The game can easily be rescheduled into the framework of a new schedule once the season is officially back on.

The league and the players' association both have some major work to do this week.

Keep checking back with Bleacher Report for all the latest information about the NHL Lockout, including analysis, reports and if the duo can ever resolve this latest CBA issue.

Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team.