Since the middle of the summer and even up to about a month ago, there had always seemed to be optimism in NHL circles that things would eventually get worked out between NHL, NHLPA by the middle of November and there would be hockey played by late November, early December.
The optimism of that potentially happening is all but gone.
With CBA talks once again at a standstill, sources close to the NHL’s point of view indicate they believe the most likely scenario right now is there might be some movement around mid-December from the players in actually “wanting” to get a deal done, as one individual put it. Some feel the players stance is to continue to hold firm until at least mid-December and the NHL top negotiators strongly believe that barring a sudden change in direction from the players, movement in the next seven to ten days with them is very unlikely to happen. In fact, there’s even talk that serious negotiations among a large group from both sides might not pick back up until week of Nov 26 – Dec 2.
With the concessions the league has made on revenue sharing and “make whole”, the NHL contends that the ball is in the players court. According to the Canadian Press, Don Fehr has contended that the division of money, player contract rights and who pays for the damage caused by the lockout remains serious issues that the two sides are split on.
Over the next couple weeks, don’t be surprised to see the league float the idea that January 1st will be a drop dead date for the season, although I think the middle of January is going to end up being the actual drop dead date.
However, discussions are already on-going among Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors that they won’t consider a season under 40 games, therefore, leading to strong speculation that Bettman won’t let this drag into mid-February like he did in 2004-2005 when a last ditch proposal would have had teams playing a 28 game season.