Here's what we know: The NHL/NHLPA met for a long time today, they kept quiet afterwards and they're meeting again tomorrow. Positive.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 7, 2012
The NHL met with the NHLPA Tuesday at an undisclosed location in New York and conducted over seven and a half hours of formal CBA negotiations in an apparent attempt to finally get serious about ending a lockout now in its eighth week. As many as 13 players reportedly attended the marathon session.
The league communicated perfunctorily after the session concluded...
"Collective bargaining negotiations between the National Hockey League and representatives of the National Hockey League's Players' Association recessed tonight at 10:15 p.m. With meetings scheduled to resume Wednesday, the League will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion."
Of all of their 'shortest-press-releases-ever' regarding the lockout, this one is perhaps the most substantive.
Neither side, thus far, mind you, has divulged details of the discussion. The substance of the marathon session is unknown at this time and the agenda for tomorrow's scheduled talks remains as much of a mystery.
At the NHL's request the players association kept the location of the meeting in Manhattan a secret to avoid media interference. It's been said all along that when the two sides ceased negotiating publicly and kept things quiet the process might finally progress in a meaningful and productive way.
It's too early to speculate on the productivity of these latest sets of talks, but the manner in which they're being conducted has sparked (once again) hope in the hockey faithful.
The "Make Whole" provision is seen as, perhaps, the most promising path to labor peace, but Aaron Ward tweets tonight that it was (in 7.5 hours!) not discussed today.
Per source,all CBA issues remain in discussion.'Make Whole' WAS NOT discussed in depth today and will be the main topic Wednesday. #TSN— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) November 7, 2012
That's quite a bit of cold water to cast on everyone's warm feelings.
The Ottawa Sun speculates that Gary Bettman might have another one his deadlines in mind this time...
There could be another deadline approaching for the NHL.
After cancelling the Winter Classic, the league may have returned to the bargaining table Tuesday to try and help save its precious airtime on the NBC Sports Network.
The first games are scheduled to be shown in the U.S. on Nov. 23 and the NHL may be trying to get a deal in place with the players' union to keep one of its biggest backers on board before the whole season goes up in smoke.
"Everybody thinks (NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) has a date circled on his calendar when he needs the NHL back playing games," said a league insider Tuesday.
November 23rd seems hopelessly optimistic at this point, but December 1st is a date that offers some intrigue.
Detail-less CBA meetings are lean pickings for media outlets and blogs, but we'll hope for more of the same silence tomorrow as the two sides try, however genuinely or not, to work things out and salvage some semblance of a substantive season.