The prevailing wisdom around CBA negotiations in September is that there is still a lot of time. It's a lot of posturing, still, and eventually the pressure of losing the season will kick in, then a deal will get done just in time. Surely you've heard the "can't we just skip to December?" jokes already.
The problem with that is it underplays how important the meetings potentially are now. Of course if they don't make a lot of progress on the CBA when they resume negotiations this weekend, it's true there is a lot of time. But at some point you hit a seminal moment in negotiations, a bit of a tipping point. You get the sense this might be one of those.
From Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis.
(2/2) the players say we could see a flood of locked-out NHLers leave to play elsewhere the first few weeks in October— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) September 27, 2012
First of all, the bit of news. The fact that the one-day meeting scheduled for Friday has apparently morphed into a three-day session is great news. We've been clamoring for the two sides to put their heads together and really get cracking, so going into talks three days in a row is awesome.
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If they indeed are going to talk for three days, maybe they can try and hammer out all of the non-economic details now. The plan is still to talk about everything but the economics in the three days worth of chats, so they can make some major headway and potentially only leave the big-ticket and most-contested issue on the plate: How to split the revenue.
At the same time, you can see how this weekend can represent a sort of zenith in these talks. Up until now there has not been a ton of players fleeing for jobs overseas. Really, the large majority of players who took up jobs in other leagues were returning home or near home. There are exceptions like Joe Thornton, Rick Nash and Logan Couture, but it has mostly been players from abroad going abroad.
It has been a popular opinion to see the fact that since many players decided not to leave North America there was some optimism about a deal, or else why wouldn't they leave? If guys start signing with teams come Monday, you'll probably have a good idea of how talks are progressing, and the answer is "not well."
It's still hard to place too much emphasis on meetings in September. Go back to the 1994/95 lockout to find they had nothing going with no meetings for more than a month. They resumed talks in January and two days later ended the lockout. Negotiations can turn fast; that's the nature of the beast.
The next few days could be a big deal, and actions next week could serve as a good indication of what is going on.