The NHL and NHLPA are not sniping at each other in the media during this round of negotiations, and that may be the best sign of progress yet.
The months-long emotional roller coaster of CBA negotiations hit a frantic pace this week as the NHL and NHLPA continue to meet in New York City.
To recap - the week started off with both sides cloaked in silence as they met within themselves and with each other. There were tense moments Wednesday night as some reported the meetings weren't going well, and there were some moments of panic Thursday afternoon when even more reporting popped up that the NHL was not thrilled with what the PA came back with.
But despite all that, the sides will continue to meet today, and there's a distinct lack of the public vitriol that's defined the process to this point. Is that enough to call this real, legitimate progress? Pierre LeBrun, for one, thinks so.
That’s called negotiating. There’s an actual back and forth happening. It’s what should have happened a month ago, maybe two months ago, but the pressure of two months’ worth of canceled games has finally pushed each side to stop the posturing and actually have meaningful negotiation.
This could still fall apart, but I’m ready to state that I believe there’s a better chance of a deal getting done than not at this stage
According to Aaron Ward, the sides have stopped outright "rejecting" each other's proposals and are now countering. If that's true, that's an important semantic distinction that would demonstrate the two sides are aiming for the same goal, even if they see different paths to get there.
- Another day, another honor for Brett Ritchie because of his ridiculously productive weekend in the OHL. [NHL.com]
- Ritchie also drew rave reviews from journalists who've been around for his play in the Russia-CHL series that's going on. [@TSNBobMcKenzie/@FriedgeHNIC]
- Something that has come up in recent days is the possibility of amnesty buyouts which, if you recall, came about after the last lockout as well. The Stars don't have any obvious targets on their team, and it's laughable that some national writers are pitching Jaromir Jagr as a potential candidate. [National Post]
- Speaking of Jagr, he's having quite a season over in the Czech league. [The Hockey Writers]
- As an aside, revenue sharing did not come into existence in 2005-06 as this article claims - a nascent form of it existed back in the 1990s to help the Canadian teams deal with a weak Canadian dollar (and, in large part, some terrible ownership among the four-non Maple Leafs/Canadiens teams). And market size aside, some of today's powerhouse earners would have been recipients had it been in place in the past (hello Red Wings, Blackhawks and Bruins). But whatever the case, the PA wants more of it to help the current struggling teams and, ideally, avoid lockouts in the future. [The Globe and Mail]
- Why might the sides be talking more productively now? My Magic 8 Ball says the fact that sponsors going public with how the lockout has hurt the business might have made both a little more willing to compromise. After all, without sponsors, the overall HRR goes down and both sides make less money. [Winnipeg Free Press]
- There's been some grumbling about the overall lack of lockout coverage on NHL.com and the NHL Network, but this interview gives a pretty decent defense of why the two outlets have operated that way (and correctly points out that they haven't been nearly as much of a mouthpiece as they could have been). I like the NFL.com approach more, but at least I see their point. [Sports Business Daily]
- This is... not the most child-friendly language in the world, but if you like crazy tales of professional athletes along with a splash of "that really can't be true," this excerpt from Jeremy Roenick's new book is for you. Somewhere, Brett Hull is wishing he could make another run at Mike Keenan. [Deadspin]
- Another of the sad casualties of the lockout is the dearth of amusing "Movember" mustaches that make hockey players look like they stepped out of Slapshot. Thankfully, Justin Bourne is here to give us a historical perspective. [Backhand Shelf]
- Todd is trying his best to jinx any progress the NHL and PA are making. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Okay, we need an official vote on the Texas Stars player that looks most uncomfortable in this video the team has made to promote Movember. There are several candidates.