Sometimes it feels good to be wrong. I openly scoffed at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s proposal that the NHL players meet with a group of NHL owners without Bettman or NHLPA head Donald Fehr in the room. My thinking was that the owners would look to divide the players and cause an unrepairable rift between them. If the reports that are trickling out of New York are correct, it seems like the two sides are actually making some sort of progress.
Talks between the two sides began early in the afternoon on Tuesday and went very late into the evening. Much of the credit for the ongoing talks was given to two people that have a lot to lose if the entire season is obliterated—Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle and the face of the NHL and employee of Burkle, Sidney Crosby.
A healthy Crosby is looking to get back on the ice and prove that he is one hundred percent healthy and that he still has what it takes to be the player that ruled the NHL before a concussion cost him a significant amount of playing time. Burkle has one of the finest teams in the league, a team that many think could make another run at the Stanley Cup, so the fact that he wants to see some hockey played is not a surprise.
Sometimes a little self-interest is a good thing.
When talks wrapped up for the evening, Steve Fehr from the NHLPA and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly addressed the press briefly, and it should be noted that they addressed the press together, as Darren Dreger tweeted:
Steve Fehr says it was a constructive day in some ways best day they've had. Daly says appreciate efforts of the players. Will meet tomorrow
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger)
The two sides don’t have much time to meet, as the NHL board of governors is set to talk tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. ET in New York. After that meeting, Gary Bettman will address the media at approximately 1:00 p.m. ET.
Will we see a partial season?
Could this meeting actually be the tipping point toward getting a new collective bargaining agreement signed? If so, how much credit will need to go to Crosby and Burkle?
On the other side of the equation, what happens to Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman if these meetings do lead to a new deal? Will they be looked at as the two biggest roadblocks that prevented a deal from getting done earlier?
It seems as if there is finally some optimism that the NHL lockout may actually come to an end, or maybe it’s just clutching at straws. Whatever the case, let’s hope that sleeping on it doesn’t halt any progress that was made on Tuesday.