NHL and NHLPA Are Finally Serious About Negotiating

Up until this weekend it would be hard to say that negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA were going well. The two sides, although truthfully not very far apart, claimed they weren't even speaking the same language. The NHL made what many believe to be their best and final offer, yet the NHLPA refused to accept it. Instantly fans were sent shivers of doubt and when the Winter Classic was "cancelled" many declared the season a wash. But less than 24 hours after cancelling the Classic, the two sides were back at the table and this time were speaking the same language. At last I have regained optimism that we will see hockey, all be it a cautious optimism.

My optimism is the result of a marathon CBA meeting between Bill Daly, gary Bettman's right hand man and Steve Fehr, Donald Fehrs brother and assistant head of the NHLPA. The meeting lasted from around 2pm on Saturday until 2 am on Sunday, and the two sides covered a lot of ground and at the very least are speaking the same language again.

"We met on and off for most of the day and covered a lot of ground, it was a good, frank discussion on the most important issues separating us" Bill Daly

So why am I so optimist after a meeting including the number 2 men on both sides? For the simple reason that us the fans haven't heard any specific details about the negotiations, heck the media couldn't even figure out where they met! The two sides again met on Tuesday in another undisclosed location, another positive step.

As much as the journalist in me is dying to know the details from the marathon meeting, it is best that the media was not informed and details were not leaked, in fact it may be the only chance there is for hockey to come back.

Now that the talks are going on strictly between the two camps it means the two sides are done fighting the never ending PR battle with the public and media (at least for now). They've realized that firing shots at each other through the media hasn't and isn't going to solve anything. In order to get a deal done they must "negotiate", key word negotiate which is what they are finally beginning to do. I know they've been "negotiating" for months, but those negotiations have been focused on how to make the other side look bad and the best possible deal either side can get. They're now focused on getting a fair deal.

I honestly feel bad for Daly. For whatever reason he has chosen to make himself the face of the owners and takes a lot of flack for things Gary Bettman decides. Maybe it's easier to have Daly at the negotiating table rather than Bettman but he has the right mind set. Daly knows if a deal is to get done, it has to get done in a hurry, in private and with as little Bettman as possible. While we all agree Bettman hasn't done the best job as commissioner the players who make up the NHLPA unanimously dislike the man and have made it their goal to fire as many "low blows" at him and the NHL as possible, hence the media turmoil between the two sides. The players see whatever Bettman offers as unacceptable and somehow cheating them. With Daly taking the lead, it forces the players to take a step back and truly focus on what the league is presenting to them, not just what Bettman is presenting. Either way you slice it, having Daly lead the negotiations instead of Bettman is a positive and a step in the right direction.

Although the majority of hockey fans are upset at the NHL for it's unfairness in this one sided relationship, the fact the talks have gone silent is a good thing. You know the saying "silence is golden" well in this case silence could mean money for both the NHL and NHLPA. The less news spread to the media the less chance for a wild story to unfold and put at risk all the hard work being discussed in the "secret" meetings. It can take just one story to spook one of the two sides and poof the deal that was close to being completed is off the table.

Although you're dying for news about the lockout, the silence is a good thing, trust me on this one. Just think of it as the calm before the storm and remember before the NFL and NBA ended their respective lockouts the media were told very little.

Could the silence mean we are closer than ever to getting hockey back, I believe so.

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