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NHL lockout: Talks could resume in 'the relatively near future'

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

Even though the NHL and NHLPA have had some recent phone conversations, it's been more than two weeks since they actually sat down and had actual negotiations. That could change in the very near future, and not a moment too soon.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press that talks could resume in "the relatively near future" and that the two sides are working through the logistics of where and when to meet.

In other words: they're talking about how they can actually talk.

The NHL lockout has been going on since Sep. 15 and has resulted in the cancellation of 326 regular season games through the end of November. The Winter Classic was also cancelled on Friday.

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Since the lockout is nearly three months old and there's talk of cancelling the signature event of the regular season well before it's necessary, let's just rewind back to early June and a press conference Gary Bettman held before one of the Stanley Cup Final games in New Jersey. A time when he didn't understand the negativity around lockout speculation:

"I don't understand both the speculation and the degree of negativity that it connotes considering we, meaning the League and the Players' Association, have yet to have a substantive discussion on what we may each be looking for in Collective Bargaining. If somebody is suggesting it, it's either because there's something in the water, people still have the NBA and NFL on the brain, or they're just looking for news on a slow day. It is nothing more than speculation at this point. There can't be any substance to it because there haven't been any substantive conversations."

The last substantive conversations between the NHL and NHLPA were on Oct. 18 when the players made three separate proposals to the league. All of them were rejected within 15 minutes.

The NHLPA proposals were in response to the league's proposal earlier that week (detailed here).

Both sides seem to be in the same ballpark in terms of ultimately reaching a 50-50 split of hockey related revenue, but they can't seem to agree on when or how they will get there. The owners want the 50-50 split to happen immediately while the three player proposals would eventually reach that point over a period of several seasons.

And that has us where we are now. Not only waiting for the two sides to talk again, but also watching them try to figure out how they're going to do it. All while the Winter Classic hangs in the balance and is used as leverage.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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