For the first time since this lockout began more than 50 days ago, you can actually see how the two sides might be able to reach a deal.
After a weekend of meetings, the two sides are expected to continue discussions tomorrow in New York, this time with Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr in attendance. There are still some obvious issues to be worked out but there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.
And based on the discussion on this site and around the hockey blogosphere, the progress better continue.
The frustration and in some cases complete apathy towards the NHL's CBA talks has to be a major concern for owners and players. There's no doubt the league's reputation has suffered irreparable damage during this lockout but if they can build on the recent momentum in negotiations, they may be able to salvage this season and begin the process of winning fans back.
What I find interesting about this whole process is that from the beginning, contacts I have talked to about this lockout continuously suggested mid-November/early December as the likely timeframe for the start of the season.
Considering the progress over the weekend, that timeline looks like a possibility.
- A handful of Ottawa Senators will be keeping busy for the next couple weeks in a charity tour called First Assist, being organized by the NHLPA. Daniel Alfredsson is among the headliners for the event and will be joined by Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, Zack Smith, Peter Regin, Marc Methot, Guillaume Latendresse and Jesse Winchester. First game was tonight in Cornwall with the next stop scheduled for November 12th in Thunder Bay.
- It's interesting to hear how optimism around the latest round of negotiation varies depending on who you talk to. Daniel Alfredsson isn't overly optimistic about the latest developments while Zack Smith seemed to think there was a deal to be made. While I understand Alfredsson's frustration, his negativity at this point in the negotiations is a tad disappointing.
- The Binghamton Senators went 1-1 this past weekend, winning 4-3 in Norfolk on Friday night and falling 4-2 to those same Admirals the following night. Binghamton's Friday night win snapped a 19 game home winning streak for the Admirals, a run that started last season. Through nine games, defencemen Andre Benoit and Tyler Eckford and forward Mike Hoffman, share the team scoring lead with 5 points a piece.