In what was a full day of meetings between six NHL owners and eighteen NHL players, we may have our first sign of positive news as a result.
The meetings didn’t start until 2pm EST on Tuesday in New York and it was five hours before the two sides broke for dinner. It was then that the players held a conference call although it was not reported with whom or what was discussed. After a bite to eat and a chance to regroup, both the group of owners and players resumed talks at the Manhattan hotel for another lengthy discussion. All of this is resulting in positive feedback, at least from the main stream media.
Many of the hockey analysts on TSN.ca that are on Twitter are reporting that words like “positive, progress, optimism” are coming out of the meetings, stating that both sides are finally talking on the same level. It is also sounds like both sides realize that they have to give a little more in order to get a deal done and while there still remains a great distance between a new CBA and the lockout continuing, at least the realization is upon them that the entire season is in jeopardy at this time.
Darren Dreger of TSN.ca used the phrase “they are now in the eleventh hour” and maybe both the owners and players know that in order to save the season, now is the time to lose the tough guy act and concede a little more than what’s been given in the past.
Interestingly enough it appears that this idea to not include Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr in the meetings may be the solution to a deal getting done. The move was considered a long shot when it was announced that the owners would meet with the players without the two main pillars in each respective corners. Ronald Burkle, owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins is said to be a key influence in the meetings given he has the player’s utmost respect. Throw in his long history of making deals with his business ventures outside of the NHL and he could be the straw that stirs the drink towards a new deal.
While it sounds promising that maybe after 80 days of the lockout, we may have our first real dose of progress in the negotiations, but keep in mind there is still miles to go before the finish line is even on the horizon. Add in the cold reality that both Bettman and Fehr will likely get involved again should talks proceed in the coming days and suddenly anything is possible, including hitting another stalemate in the negotiations.
One could argue that with the small group of owners and players making enough progress to get the hockey world excited, do they really need Bettman and Fehr and their gigantic egos involved at all moving forward. Maybe the game needs a new commissioner while we’re at it too? Ok, that may have been a little too much all at once, so let’s walk before we run.
After seven hours of meetings on Tuesday the two sides will meet again on Wednesday and there is no word yet if Bettman and his counterpart Fehr will be invited.
As always, we’ll keep you posted as the events unfold.
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