If you aren’t on Twitter, then you missed a very exciting day yesterday. First, Gary Bettman held a press conference that was so short even John Tortorella blushed. After proclaiming that he was happy with the way negotiations were going, the owners and the players got back into the room to continue talking. This of course, came after a full night of intense discussions, which ended around midnight on Tuesday.
Then late yesterday afternoon, more news broke that the NHLPA had made a formal offer to the owners. Two hours later, the owners made a counter proposal. Now it’s worth noting that a counter proposal is significantly different from a rejection. This means that the owners and players have agreed to a framework, and are ironing out the details.
Negotiations –as of the writing of this post (9:30pm Wednesday)– are on going, and the play-by-play on Twitter has the owners alternating between sitting with the players and going back to the owners-only room to relay information.
It is simply a matter of time before a deal gets done. Or it’s just a matter of time before things blow up and we lose the season. But as the title suggests, it may be time for some optimism.
In the previous negotiations, the players and owners would simply reject the proposal’s made by the opposition, and that would be that. This is the major difference this week, as it appears that the owners and players are negotiating off the same framework.
Rumors have it that a deal will be struck by the weekend. If that is the case, and all players in Europe return by December 10, then there is little doubt that a season can begin by Christmas. That would give teams two weeks for training camp, and give the owners a big-ticket day to open the season. The NBA opened on Christmas last season following a lockout, and the thoughts of a triple-header on NBC on Christmas might be too good to pass up.
During the lockout-shortened 1994-1995 season, a deal was struck on January 11 and the players were on the ice by January 20, just nine days later. While that is unlikely to happen this time around, it gives you a framework for how many games will be played this season.
If this timing turns out to be true, then there would be an additional month of games played. The NHL wants to get to 61 games to earn 100% of sponsor money (75% otherwise). Is it possible that the owners would add another 13 games in that month to get to the magical 61 games?
At this point, anything is possible. A deal needs to get done first. A lot can happen between the writing of this post and when it is posted, and even more can happen between now and when (if) a deal is struck.