Talking Red

Lockout Update: Best News Yet

Posted in on by EJ Fagan

Representatives from the NHL owners and players say down for lengthy discussions this weekend. From TG:

Following a lengthy series of discussions Saturday between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr at an undisclosed, neutral site, the sides will get back together Tuesday in a larger group with the possibility of it leading continued negotiations throughout the week. It is unclear whether NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr will join the meeting, which will come on the 52nd day of the owners’ lockout.

Few details have emerged about what was discussed during Saturday’s meeting – the first face-to-face discussion since Oct. 18 – other than it focused on the core economic issues. Both Daly and Fehr put out statements in which they expressed hope of it leading to further dialogue, but have said nothing otherwise.

The best parts of this news:

No media attention. The two sides are sitting down in an ‘undisclosed location’ and deliberately avoiding the media afterwards. No one is sniping at each other. No one is leaking any solid details on what is being discussed. Considering what we’ve seen so far, we can say pretty confidentially that both sides are negotiating in good faith right now. They aren’t posturing publicly.

Bringing in the decision makers. Both sides let their #2 guys do the negotiating this weekend. Tomorrow, the real decision makers will be in the room. That means that the people sitting down and talking with each other are going to be able to make actual decisions about a path forward.

No offers. We’re not hearing that the NHL or NHLPA are preparing offers for the other side. This is a good sign. Any negotiator will tell you that the side making the offer is almost always at a disadvantage. That’s why teams make offers that they don’t plan on being accepted. Instead of an offer, Fehr and Daly are hopefully piecing together individual parts that both sides can agree to.

My guess? They already know what the final deal basic architecture is going to look like. They’ll hammer out the details this week, announce a deal in principle this weekend or Monday, and we’ll have that November 1st season, with a short pre-season starting immediately after Thanksgiving. We won’t see an 82-game season, but they might fit in 68 games.

They need to hurry up. I’m getting tired of writing about business negotiations. Let’s get our NHL hockey on.

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