CBA negotiations stemming from a "players and owners only" idea, sans Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, continued Wednesday following the NHL's Board of Governors meeting in New York, and lasted deep into the night.
Cautious optimism was cited last night. If possible, it seems it's continued through another 24 hour period.
Ron Hainsey, defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, spoke for the player side at about 1:00am in New York. "We had a series of meetings today, very candid discussion, and we plan on meeting again tomorrow."
No additional comments. No detail leaks. Yet. That's what people want to (not) hear.
The players made a new proposal early this afternoon, as was expected and hinted beforehand. The owners, though it was foggily reported at the time, did eventually respond. Ambiguity persisted through a dinner break as breaths were held and the resolve of each side measured, however unjustly or inaccurately, through social media.
When the owners left after 13 minutes of post-dinner negotiations the red-alerts sounded. It was the storm-out everyone was waiting for.
Except it wasn't. They went back in. They came back out. They went back in. Several Twitter memes were started in the intervening period (check @NHLpodium for proof) and as talks dragged on from Wednesday night into Thursday morning it all started to make a little bit of sense.
This must what be what actual negotiations between two parties that want and need to get a deal done look like.
Specifics have been hard to come by, and that's a good thing. The sides spent much of the night "caucusing" in and out of the main session and the numbers of players and owners in the room decreased throughout. TSN reported three owners and "far fewer" players than the 18 that started the session.
Core economics are assumed to have been discussed but evidence is in short supply. One subject area that does seemed to have been broached is CBA length. The players have been in favor of a shorter term, but at one point tonight were reportedly open to a 10-year deal that the league prefers. Those details are sketchy at best.
Russo published on this blog tonight that "I know they piled more money on "Make Whole." ." That's not insignificant.
Insiders of various allegiances throughout the Twitter world continue to report generally favorable news from "sources" on both sides of the proverbial aisle.
Here is a smattering of Tweets from around the web.
Both sides would like a deal by the weekend, but one league source said the owners don't view that as a realistic deadline.
From Michael Russo of the Star Tribune
There have been some very tense moments today where this could have broken apart. Both sides still working at this though, so... that's good— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) December 6, 2012
Craig Custance of ESPN
Talks toward a deal described to me this way: Close but precarious. Sums it up very succinctly.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) December 6, 2012
Yes, that's the word "close".
Multiple people with some sense of what's going on will only say process is at "critical" juncture or "serious" phase.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 6, 2012
The NHLPA will meet internally Thursday morning before reconvening with the league.
Can cautious optimism weather another day?
After Steve Fehr handed out pizza to the media late Wednesday night and a lectern gained international fame - Anything is possible.