With the NHL and the NHLPA in negotiations for the fourth-straight day, things are starting to look up, and the possibility of an NHL season seems more realistic everyday. The two sides have already met for a total of 18 hours this week, discussing and negotiating to get the NHL back onto the ice by December.
Prior to their first meeting on Tuesday, the two sides had not met since October 18.
Both sides have tried to put the blame for the lack of negotiations on the other side since October 18, but now that they are back negotiating, hopefully the blame-game can stop.
Hockey fans all over can rest assured that they will indeed get to see top level hockey in North America once again. The negotiations have been longer than the majority of discussions prior to or even since the most recent CBA expired.
The length of the current discussion sessions should be encouraging to hockey fans more than anything else.
More often than not, past discussions were ended after a relative short period of time. After these short discussions were ended, it seemed inevitable that one side would claim that the other was very far off base, and not willing to negotiate.
That has not happened so far this week.
While both sides have refrained from spending too much time talking to the media, one has to take that as a good sign. This time around, it has been almost the opposite. Neither side has wanted to talk to the media, and has been very vague when doing so.
When asked about the negotiations, both sides seemed to dance around what issues were actually being discussed. Commissioner Gary Bettman was direct in letting the media know he did not want them knowing what issues the two sides were grinding out right now.
"We've met with the Players' Association for the last three days and we are planning on meeting again [Friday]. But, I am not going to discuss the negotiations or the substance of what we're talking about. I really don't think that would be helpful to the process."
Bettman's comments were followed by these comments from NHLPA head Donald Fehr.
"We (have) had meetings the last couple of days and this afternoon. There have been discussions over a wide range of topics. We're recessed for the night and we will be getting back together [Friday], the exact time is not yet certain. But I do expect we'll be getting back together [Friday]. I am not going to comment on the substance of the discussions."
The vagueness by the two leaders can only be a good thing after months and months of bashing their opponent and putting the blame on the other guy.
All signs point to the players being willing to accept the league's 50/50 revenue sharing proposal, so now the problem is being tied to smaller issues within each proposal.
Issues that can be ironed out in time to save the NHL season.
With negotiations continuing today (Friday) it appears that both sides are back on track to getting NHL hockey on the ice for the 2012-13 season. While the Winter Classic and lots of games may have already been cancelled, fans should be cheered up by the continued talks.
It just looks like there will be hockey after all this season.
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