Positive Signs Continue As NHL, NHLPA Meet Again Following Governors Meeting

Bruce Bennett

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing and out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say." -Gary Bettman at conclusion of BoG meeting.

Will this round of optimism be different in the NHL labor dispute between the league and the NHLPA? There are some signs as the Board of Governors meeting wraps up.

  • Aaron Ward and others reported this morning that the NHL is prepared to relent on some player contract issues, though contract length is still a sticking point.
  • Sportnet's Nick Kypreos said on-air a short time ago that he's hearing of NHL head coaches calling players and telling them to be ready to move quickly.
  • The Globe and Mail is saying today that the league and the PA have "cleared their schedules" this week for negotiation flexibility, but all that really means is that they have asked for were granted an adjournment to a hearing with the Quebec Labour Board originally scheduled for Thursday.
  • John Davidson of the Columbus Blue Jackets told media after the Board of Governor's meeting that the governors "liked the information that they got."

What does it all mean?

Maybe nothing.

It's hard not to get ones hopes up, but if the lockout's taught us anything thus far it's to be cautious - if not downright cynical. There's a lot of work left to do and not a lot of time left to do it. If Gary Bettman still has seven owners in a "hard-line" position then the work of the moderates means nothing.

Perhaps a better way to look at it comes from the Dallas Stars' very own Alex Goligoski, who spoke with Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, saying "It is positive that some progress was made, but until you're in the final stages of this thing and things are agreed on by both sides, it's almost foolish to be too optimistic."

Other reasons for optimism today have been reports of an agreement on "Senior Benefits" and what the NHL's willingness to relent on UFA age could mean. Their contract length demands, however, remain.

According to our own Huw Wales via Capgeek there are only 13 defenseman, 24 forwards, and 5 goaltenders in the league with contracts of seven or more years. That should not be a de-railing issue for the players association.

So it will likely come down to, surprise: $$$$, the details of which have not been leaked to the media.

Some reports indicate that the league would like to salvage a 60 game season, and in doing so retain most, if not all, of money from sponsors. The Dallas Stars played 50 games after December 21st last year, so it would be a tight fit to find the extra dates. A 54-56 game schedule might be more realistic.

That's all getting ahead of ourselves.

Way ahead of ourselves.

Let's see what the next few days (and hours to start with) bring. The players may not bring a formal proposal to the meeting today after all.

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