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November 4, 2012 | 9:46am ET
Slowly, progress being made
 After a lengthy meeting yesterday afternoon that ran into Sunday morning, the NHL and NHLPA will meet again.

TORONTO -- Yesterday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr got together at an undisclosed location outside of New York City and Toronto to go over a variety of issues surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation impasse.

Initially, it was believed the two sides were going to focus on the NHL's willingness to honor the players' current contracts through a "make-whole" provision. The NHLPA wanted to know more; how would that be achieved, and will the balance of their contracts be guaranteed or will a percentage fall into escrow?

I was on the air with my TFP LIVE co-host Dennis Bernstein -- 5-7pm ET, every Saturday on NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM (yup, cheesy plug) -- when Sportsnet's John Shannon jumped on the program and told us the two sides were still meeting. This was around 6:15pm ET, and we figured the meeting began around 4pm or 5pm, so that sounded very promising.

After I left the studio, went home and ate dinner, I received a message around 8:30pm ET -- they were still meeting (which I'm told took place in central USA -- the city is irrelevant). I was pleasantly surprised. Following a few back and forth reports, I called it a night. Daly and Fehr met until approximately 1am ET this morning.

That's roughly eight hours of face-to-face discussions... about not only the "make-whole" provision, but a variety of CBA-related issues.

"We had a series of meetings yesterday and exchanged views on the most important issues separating us," Daly told ESPN/TSN's Pierre LeBrun. "We plan to meet again sometime early this week."

Not only did they meet for a longer period of time than every single CBA negotiation session, combined, the two sides (parts of them, anyway) are going to meet as early as Monday.

I'm not being Mr. Optimist, because there is still a crapload of work to be done and it's going to take some time to negotiate all the details, but I'm feeling much more comfortable today about a potential resolution than I did a few days ago.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, it's important to note the importance of the "make-whole" provision.

With the players' share dropping from 57 per cent to 50 per cent of hockey-related revenues (everyone's best friend, HRR), that equates to an approximate drop of 13 per cent in players' salaries, which on the surface shows the players' salaries being rolled back. That's not the case (and not something the NHLPA would accept). Instead, as it was explained to me by an NHL executive, the League is absolutely willing to honor current contracts and has agreed to make them whole by differing payments over the span of the new CBA.

But as I mentioned early, how that is achieved is what the NHLPA questions.

Will they guarantee that all of that 13 per cent is being paid back to the players? If so, part of the owners' 50 per cent share would be set aside to compensate the players. If not, will a portion of that 13 per cent be attributed to escrow, and how big is that portion?

Speaking to a few folks on the Players' side, they might be willing to accept the latter, if a) the portion isn't large, and b) the NHL gives up significant concessions related to other elements of the CBA (for example, eliminating the NHL's request to put a cap on length of contracts). But, their primary objective is to make sure that 13 per cent is fully paid back.

Once this little item is addressed and agreed upon, the two sides will get into the nitty-gritty of this CBA. Player contracts (both term and money), entry-level contracts, arbitration rights, free agency status... you know, the fun stuff.

There has already been significant damage caused by this lockout. Regular-season games have been wiped out through Nov. 30. The Winter Classic has been cancelled. Both sides are losing revenues. The fans are pissed off. The networks are pissed off. The sponsors are pissed off. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. How quickly we get there remains to be seen.

This past week has been positive. The lines of communication have been very open, so much so that I was told this morning that talks also included a few other participants than just Daly and Steve Fehr. Add in yesterday's marathon and you have to believe traction is being made.

Another positive: The NHL has no intention of cancelling any other games or events for the foreseeable future (everyone in Columbus, home of this season's All-Star Game, is holding their breath).

Shit got real yesterday (I can say that, we're a lifestyle brand). Let's hope it carries into the week.

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

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ARCHIVES 
Nov. 02, 2012 NHL, NHLPA set to meet
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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