Three times over the last eight weeks there has been optimism surrounding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in the NHL. Every time, it has been met with realities that the two sides remain far apart.
In early November, the owners gave in on a 50/50 split on hockey-related revenue (HRR). That share had been seen as the obstacle for a players union (NHLPA) that was unwilling to drop further than that after having a 75 percent share before the last CBA was signed.
When the NHLPA countered with three alternatives, the NHL pulled their offer from the table and ceased negotiating.
In early December, the two sides were close enough that NHLPA chief Donald Fehr to publicly announce a deal was close. The NHL was furious, pointing out a gap remained and threatening not to negotiate if Fehr remained involved, and talks again broke down.
Eventually, players voted to dissolve the union by January 2, opening the door to legal action forcing the league to allow players to return. The NHL came up with its best offer yet and both sides talked right up to New Year's Eve. However, Sports Illustrated has reported that "significant obstacles remain" after talks concluded for the 2012 calendar year.
Coverage of the CBA negotiations and their impact on individual teams has become redundant. But some of the material warrants an update.
For one, I only covered the reasons a new core would be needed and who would be on it, giving little reason why. Two players on that list increasingly unlikely to be part of next year's team without a chance to prove they are worth investing a new contract in are replaced by two new faces.
Last week, I looked at five players who could crack the everyday roster as soon as next season here. This week, I look at five players who will be cornerstones at some point beyond that...