|The NHL and NHLPA are talking again, but are they talking about the right things? (US Presswire)|
The good news is that, after more than two weeks of no formal negotations, the NHL and NHLPA are back at the bargaining table for what could be three straight days of talks. It's better than nothing.
But will it be enough?
The bad news is the important economic issues (like how to split the league's hockey-related revenue in a way that makes everybody happy) don't seem to be the primary talking point on the agenda, with the talks instead focusing on secondary matters like player safety, player discipline, travel issues and arbitration. If these seem like issues that probably should be put on the backburner and hammered out once the core financial problems are solved, you're probably not wrong.
“All those things have a huge impact on the players and on the game,” Toews said via the Sun-Times. “It's probably one of those things right now that is being overshadowed by the revenue-sharing and the big issues that have been really talked about in the last couple of months. But it doesn't mean they're not important.”
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They're being overshadowed, of course, because the revenue split is what most of this is about. The secondary issues are important; they're just not as big of a roadblock to returning to the ice as the financial issues and what percentage each side ultimately gets. Until that gets worked out, it's hard to imagine anything significant happening.
Right now, the NHL and NHLPA are focusing on fixing the tires on a car that doesn't have a working motor.
Keep in mind, deputy commissioner Bill Daly just told the AP on Thursday that "until we make progress and see some compromise from the Union of their economic position, we won't be going anywhere fast."
The two sides haven't had formal negotiations since before the CBA expired back on Sept. 15, officially starting the third lockout the NHL since 1994.
The league already has scrapped its entire exhibition schedule which, was supposed to run through Oct. 8. Real games haven't been canceled (yet). But with the regular season set to start on Oct. 11 you don't need to be a genius (or a scientitian) to do the math on that and realize time is quickly running out -- especially given how methodical the talks have been to this point, and how little progress has seemingly been made.
This is a big weekend for the NHL. The progress made (or not) over the next three days will go a long way toward deciding whether the regular season starts on time.
Or at a reasonable time.