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November 2, 2012 | 9:43pm ET
NHL, NHLPA set to meet
 In the wake of the NHL cancelling the Winter Classic, emotions started to run wild, but doomsday hasn't arrived just yet.

TORONTO -- Earlier this week, I reported both on the radio and via that little Twitter box thingy that the NHL and NHLPA have had positive conversations and have been slowly making progress in their attempts to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Earlier today, you'd think that what I spewed out was total bullcrap after the NHL announced the cancellation of the Winter Classic.

I understand why the NHL decided to nix their most prized in-season event. There are several parameters involved (lead time, merchandise sales, media hype, etc.), but truth be told, both the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs would rather have three-to-four months of pimping the crap out of it to its fan base than four-to-six weeks.

This afternoon was filled with disappointment. Fans were pissed off. Players were frustrated. NBC was upset. League sponsors were none too thrilled.

Then, a couple of hours ago, news leaked out that the NHL told the NHLPA the owners are willing to eat up the balance of the players' salaries as part of a "make whole" provision.

While that sounds great on the surface, it's not entirely accurate and there are now several misconceptions of what exactly took place.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr have been talking all week. At some point during their conversations, Daly indicated to Fehr that they were willing to make concessions on the "make whole" provision. However, the exact details of their offerings were unclear. How much of the players' contracts are they willing to "make whole?" No formal document was presented, but it was part of the dialogue.

Now, if the NHL is in fact willing to honor the players' contracts, in full and out of their share, that is an extremely huge step forward. It won't get a new CBA done, as there are many other items to discuss, but it's a very significant item that should not be discredited.

On Thursday, the NHLPA held a conference call with its members -- approximately 70 were on the call -- to update everyone on Steve Fehr's discussions with Daly. Several players left the call optimistic, but still unclear, as details of the "make whole" provision have yet to be presented.

According to several sources on both ends of the spectrum, the League also indicated to the NHL Players' Association that they are open to not only discussing that one topic, but every aspect of the CBA -- remember, the NHL pulled its previous offer off the table (yes, an 82-game season is no longer possible, but other aspects of their proposal are still significant).

The two sides are going to meet face-to-face as early as tomorrow or as late as Monday. They should know tonight. [Update 9:53pm ET: Daly and Fehr will meet Saturday afternoon.]

The NHLPA wants to understand exactly what "make whole" means, and if it means the players' will get their full contracts honored -- though payments will be transitioned over the length of the new CBA -- then we're inching much closer to an agreement.

The other thing to consider here is the All-Star Game. That's still very much alive. The NHL could have easily cancelled that too today, but there is much less planning for that event than the Winter Classic.

If talks continue to progress over the next few days, that could lead to a deal in the coming weeks, which means the All-Star festivities will either go ahead as planned, or they'll be pushed back (which might be the most likeliest option).

This should be an intriguing weekend for everyone connect to the sport. If you're a hockey fan, you'll want to pay attention.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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ARCHIVES 
Aug. 30, 2012 Framework in place?
Aug. 28, 2012 Not so fast, NHL
Aug. 21, 2012 Negotiations set to intensify
Aug. 14, 2012 Positive signs stem from PA proposal
Aug. 13, 2012 NHLPA to present "alternative view"
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