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NHL Lockout 2012: What to Watch for as Latest CBA Talks Continue in New York

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
Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 7, 2012

After a marathon session in New York City on Election Day, the NHL and NHLPA will continue negotiating on Wednesday (via Darren Dreger of TSN), and there are a few of critical issues to watch.

Resumption of CBA talks expected to begin at 1 p.m. in NYC.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 7, 2012

As for the meeting on Tuesday, Louis Jean of TVA Sports was able to provide some information on how the talks went.

Source tells me on negotiations: "It's going well and having some very positive conversations and exchanges". #CBA

— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) November 7, 2012

The most important issue on the agenda for the two sides when they return to the bargaining table will likely be the "make whole" provision, according to Dreger.

Make Whole expected to be main focus today. How the owners intend on covering some or all is unclear. Huge issue. Big mystery.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 7, 2012

Make Whole is tricky. Will be much debate among owners. Will it be covered by the league or individual owners? Much to discuss and decide.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 7, 2012

If a common ground can be found on the make whole provision then we could see a deal in the next week or so. That's how important of a topic this is for the two sides to discuss on Wednesday.

If the owners budge on the provision and satisfy the players' demands of having their existing contracts honored, then the NHLPA will have to make a few concessions on player contracts.

There's no question that the league is trying to get rid of the huge, cap-circumventing contracts that many players were offered and agreed to during the previous CBA.

Eliminating these types of contracts would likely result in term limits, which isn't something the players will easily agree to if their share of hockey-related revenue (HRR) goes down to 50-50 right away.

However, as long as the owners don't propose major changes to player contract issues such as salary arbitration, term limits and entry-level deals, this part of the negotiations shouldn't be a major stumbling block in getting a deal done.

The make whole provision and player contract rights will likely be at the forefront of Wednesday's meetings and will be the two issues to watch moving forward. Once these are taken care of, it might not be long before a new agreement is made and the NHL lockout ends.

Fans must not get too optimistic until more progress is made, but the fact that the league and its players are willing to meet on back-to-back days and discuss the provision is encouraging.

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