The National Hockey league may finally be one step closer to returning from its 80 day lockout after a full day of negotiating Tuesday that went late into the night.
Without NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donad Fehr in the room, the two sides, made up of six owners (including Lightning owner Jeff Vinik), 18 players (including Lightning forwards Martin St. Louis and B.J. Crombeen), Bill Daly of the NHL, and Steve Fehr of the NHLPA, finally came away from the process sounding as optimistic as they have sounded during the entire process.
In what may have been the most significant and telling development of the day, both sides met the media in a joint press conference following the meetings wrapping up.
“It may have been the best day we’ve had so far,” Steve Fehr told the assembled media in New York City. “I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture, however. A lot of work remains to be done.”
“I think everybody is working hard,” Bill Daly said. “I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so I think that’s encouraging.”
Negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.
The NHL Board of Govoners is scheduled to meet at 11am Wednesday, where they will get an update from Gary Bettman on the status of the negotiations. Bettman is then scheduled to meet with the media at 1pm.
Obviously, while there may be real reason for optimism for the first time in months, there still also appears to be plenty of reason for caution as well. There still will be the moment where the main players, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have to enter into the discussions again. That may be the most important moment these negotiations will see.
But on this day, there is hope, and that is more that can be said about many days prior to now.