Fleury at NHL/NHLPA Negotiations today

April 22, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Strait (37) ties up Philadelphia Flyers center Maxime Talbot (27) in front of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period of game six of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

From the mothership:

Executives from both the NHL and NHL Players' Association have gathered at union headquarters in Toronto Thursday morning to resume collective bargaining agreement talks. It's expected that financial differences between the two sides will be the focus of Thursday's meeting.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, discipline chief Brendan Shanahan, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford are among the negotiators on hand for the league, according to NHL.com's Dan Rosen.

NHLPA head Donald Fehr and advisor Steve Fehr are among those on hand for the union. 13 players are also in attendance, according to the NHLPA: Martin Biron, Nick Bonino, Brian Elliott, Ruslan Fedotenko, Marc-Andre Fleury, Bruno Gervais, Steve Montador, Max Talbot, Michael Weber, Mike Weaver, Kevin Westgarth, Dan Winnik and Wojtek Wolski.

Talks began at 9:30 a.m. ET and are expected to run for several hours. It's expected that principals from each side will speak with the media following the round of negotiations

Pretty cool to see 23% of the NHLPA reps were key members of the Pens 2009 Stanley Cup team, hopefully they can be as clutch in the negotiating room as they were that spring.

As it stands though, we all know we're probably griding towards another lockout as the players and owners greedily bicker over how to split all the revenue that fans like you and me so gratefully give them, without more than lip- service paid to us. So while these stubborn millionares and billionares battle it out in a game of chicken, the paying customer of the NHL, the engine that makes the whole machine run, will just sit idly until they tell us it's time to start paying them money for tickets, merchandise, concessions, subscriptions to tv packages and online services once again.

Can you tell I'm not feeling that optimistic today?

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