The good news is that for the first time since Sept. 12 -- three days before the NHL lockout became official -- the owners and the Players' Association have met. And when Sunday concludes, they will have done so for three straight days. The bad news is that the two sides have not discussed the component -- how to split hockey-related revenue -- that in essence has spurred the work stoppage.
Make no mistake about it: the sheer fact that the owners and players continue to meet is a great sign. However, until the core economic issues are hammered out, this lockout is still very much far from over.
Over the past two days, the sides have convened to discuss the secondary components that will still go to the creation of a new collective bargaining agreement. On Friday, topics such as medical care, drug testing, training camp and the schedule were touched on and meetings lasted for seven hours. On Saturday, the two sides went over the definitions of what comprises hockey-related revenue and that lasted about four hours. In theory, a mutual agreement of what its "definition" is should help the basis of the next proposal, whether that's by the owners or players. One would think that when the grey areas are cleared up, the next CBA offer should be a little more "acceptable."
Of course, when the next proposal will be made remains the big question. Time is ticking down to where the new CBA has to be agreed upon or regular season games will start to be crossed off. Some have said that a new deal will have to be reached by the middle of the coming week as the season starts Oct. 11 and it will take time for the players, coaches and other personnel to get ready. It's not like a deal gets done Sunday, teams will begin training camps the next day, especially with many players already overseas or still at home, away from their team's city.
Sunday, the agenda likely will include health and safety issues and other legal topics, according to the Sporting News. More talk on the definition of hockey-related revenue could also be revisited because a mutual agreement was not found just yet.
Even though commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr did not attend these meetings with the group, they had their own, private talks.
Leave it to Fehr to describe the nature of these:
"I spent a few minutes with Gary talking about the overall situation, and we agreed to keep in touch," Fehr said Saturday, as reported by the Sporting News. "I am sure we will talk again (Sunday). I don't know whether will meet again (Sunday). That remains to be seen.
"I am not going to talk about the specifics, but in general we're trying to discuss how do we find a way to make an agreement. How do we bridge the gap on the major issues that are between us."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly on Friday said that the owners needed to hear from the players that they would compromise on the hockey-related revenue split in order to for the "meaningful issues" to be discussed. As such, Daly even acknowledged Saturday that topics talked about this weekend have been considered the " underbrush." That means nothing is likely to get done without the players budging. If the general feelings of players that the union is stronger than ever is correct, we could still be in for a long work stoppage and even a lost season. The silver lining remains that the two sides will be meeting for the third straight day Sunday and nothing can ever get done without that happening.