Months after the bickering and posturing started, it seems that actual negotiations are finally taking place.
The NHL and NHLPA have been meeting at a secret location in New York over the past three days, and unlike during previous meetings, it seems as though the two sides are finally making some progress on actual negotiations.
Katie Strang of ESPN.com is reporting that the NHLPA made two offers on Wednesday night - one dealing with the league's revenue sharing policy, and one that addresses the "Make Whole" concept proposed earlier, which make sure the league honored the contracts that players signed.
The players are interested in increasing the amount of revenue sharing that gets passed around, especially from the league's most profitable teams. The last league offer for revenue sharing stood at $200 million, but for the players, more revenue sharing means more financial stability and a smaller chance of teams going under, which helps protect jobs.
As for the Make Whole proposition, it's described by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun as "the formula that would honor existing player contracts in the face of the players' hockey-related revenue share dropping from 57 percent to 50 percent." Obviously this is something that the players are pushing hard for, and the ownerships response to the proposition, expected sometime today, will be a huge turning point in the negotiation, for better or worse.
One other interesting note to come out of this week's talks is the fact that an amnesty buyout clause is back on the table. I'm sure that Sabres fans can think of a pretty obvious candidate for a contract buyout, and if we all shouted it on three, it would probably rhyme with Shmilly Shmeino. I don't think you'd find many fans who would argue against it, and it would certainly provide an immediate and interesting boost to the list of available free agents, and would be one of the more fun conversations to have in recent memory.
Talk are continuing today, and we should have some new information about how the league reacted to the player's proposals later tonight. This is an important week for negotiations if the season is to be saved, so stay tuned, hockey fans.