Representatives from both the NHL and the NHL Players Association met again today in Toronto, as the two sides continue to work out a new collective bargaining agreement to prevent a workstoppage for the second time in eight years.
Both sides hinted that the meetings were going well, but obviously it's still early in the negotiating process. The current CBA expires Sept. 15.
"They've been positive," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the fourth meeting since June 29. "They've been constructive. They've been cordial."
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, said, "The parties are approaching this in an appropriate and business-like manner and have got meetings schedule going out into the future. I wouldn't draw any particular significance to it beyond that, but you have to have a series of meetings."
According to NHL.com, Fehr said "day-to-day player working conditions," including travel, were discussed. That could involve re-alignment, but neither side tipped its hand.
"The lines of communication are open," said Manny Malhotra, one of the 11 players involved with the day's discussions.
"It has been business as usual I think," said Chris Campoli, another player representative, when asked if there are any changes in the way teams are operating. "There are some guys still out there (in free agency), but teams have signed a lot of guys. I think the League made comments that they were going to continue to operate that way and teams are building their clubs. I haven't seen a difference. The UFA market is pretty status quo."
What should we take from this moving forward?
"As long as things continue business as usual, that's good," Fehr said.
This could be taken as good news, but again, it's still very early in the negotiating process. I'm sure not a lot of the big ticket issues have been discussed at length yet, which is where we could come to a cross-roads.
This news is better than bad news, though. In the end, I believe both sides understand what is at stake if there is another work-stoppage, and neither side wants to risk losing the positive momentum the league has had since the lockout of 2004-05.