NHL Lockout: Where No News is Good News

Bruce Bennett

NHL and NHLPA brass have met extensively for each of the last two days and plan to do so again Thursday, with neither side saying much publicly. Bluster seems to have finally given way to negotiation.

NHL and NHLPA brass, including Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, held substantive, in-person meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, less than a week after the Winter Classic got the ax.

The sides reportedly plan to do so again today.

The sides have met before, but this is the first time to believe they are making actual progress towards a deal. Three reasons:

  • The discussions have been held in secret locations, and post-gathering press releases have provided no insight into the topics covered in those meetings.
  • Two straight days of talks have been held with plans for a third, and no major indignity has caused one side to leave the table and blame the other for the impasse.
  • The divisive core issues of revenue sharing, the make-whole provision and the league-union revenue split have reportedly been discussed.
Until this week, most of the negotiating process had been a choreographed rope-a-dope with fan sentiment, both sides saying little unless it was a chance to bolster their own image among the game's fans or to take shots at the other party.

Now that they're holding talks face-to-face, without brief exercises in public flippancy or cadres of strongarms to show the other side (or threaten them with?) their unity, real reason for optimism exists.

This might be much ado about nothing, but the signs are nonetheless positive. These trends were present in the NBA and NFL as they ended their respective work stoppages in 2011, and progress in the 2005 lockout moved at a glacial pace compared to what's going on today.

The real reason to think progress is being made? Everyone on both sides of the divide will begin to lose money if the lockout cancels games that are scheduled into the month of December.

Money talks. Because of that, the NHL and NHLPA have finally begun to do the same.

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