Revenue sharing, hockey-related revenue, escrow checks, free agency restrictions—all the major issues remain on the table, unsolved, in current negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association.
The two sides are talking to each other often and to the press little, yet seemingly little progress has been made on the most prominent and controversial topics. For now, an end to the 2012 NHL lockout is not in sight.
But at least they're talking.
After months of boiling anger over the league's second work stoppage in eight years—a work stoppage caused more by inactivity than irreversible disagreements—the two sides are, at last, conversing diligently.
The sensibility and dedication that this autumn's discussions had been missing are finally present.
Sixteen hours in three days?
Frankly, hat's a commitment that neither side has shown for months. A week ago, just one hour would've seemed like a negotiating breakthrough.
Moreover, NHLPA leader Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have both made positive remarks about the surprisingly busy week.
'We have work to do," said Bettman to reporters Thursday, "and my hope is that we can achieve the goal of getting a long-term, fair agreement in place as quickly as possible so we can play hockey.''
Fehr echoed the encouraging tone, stating that ''there have been discussions over a wide range of topics."
Even superstar icon Sidney Crosby seemed upbeat.
“We’re talking, and I think as long as that continues, it’s got to be considered a positive," he told the Chicago Tribune after three consecutive days of meetings.
Apparently, Fehr figured out that the fan-player love affair of August and September was not an everlasting, see-no-wrong relationship. Hockey nation had realized the NHLPA wasn't necessarily the good-guy superhero of this debacle; he actually needed to find his professionalism again.
Apparently, Bettman grasped that his approval rating is really that low—the boos that rain down in every arena appearance are not sudden cheers for Tuomo Ruutu. He also grasped, apparently, that submitting the same outrageous proposal over and over (and over) was not a progressive cooperation strategy.
And now, apparently, the two bitter foes are talking. Cordially. Extensively. About things that actually matter.
Yes, talking. Finally.
Now, if only it would lead to a resolution...
Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009. He has written more than 435 articles and received more than 735,000 reads.