NHL lockout: Bill Daly says 'point of no return' is around mid-January

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Up until now, the NHL has been hesitant to actually put a date on any final deadline for a new CBA deal to end the lockout and save a season. That was until now.

Speaking on 590 The Fan in Toronto, NHL Deputy Commissioner said he expects that a final date is just a few weeks away at this point.

The news itself isn't terribly surprising, but it would seem to be a confirmation of what we have expected. Until now, the NHL didn't put any specific timetable on an end date; commissioner Gary Bettman would only commit to saying that a 48-game season was the bare minimum. It was a pretty safe deduction from there to put the timetable around mid-January, but this makes it much more solid.

As host Millard notes in the above tweet, the 2004-05 season wasn't canceled until much later but they won't give it that long this time. Frankly, the season was probably canceled too late back then anyway as the league didn't make the announcement until Feb. 16.

A deadline like this had to come at some point, and it seems to be the only thing that's going to bring the sides back to the negotiating table as neither wants to make the next move. When the final push of pressure will be felt, then we might finally see some action toward closing the final few issues on a new CBA, even without help from the courts.

Think about it: When did we seem to have the most action in negotiations? There have been big pushes surrounding big points on the calendar, such as when the NHL put forth a big proposal to try to save an 82-game schedule or how negotiations really picked up surrounding the big Board of Governors meeting earlier this month. They need a spur, and nothing can prod negotiations more than a final deadline.

Daly also had other interesting things to say. He admitted that he isn't sure how the fans and sponsors are going to react to this after a deal is reached, calling it a "crap shoot." Daly also said he expects the players will overwhelmingly vote in favor of authorizing the NHLPA Executive Board to file a disclaimer of interest.

But before you go away thinking there was nothing good said, Daly did mention that he thinks they are pretty much "there" on the revenue-sharing problem.

This is your reminder that we are now in Day 95 of stupidity and the two sides don't have any plans to meet further. Why, you ask? It's a good question with an answer, even if it's not a very good answer. Daly has previously said there isn't much point to a meeting as the NHL has given all that it can give, to which NHLPA head (for now) Donald Fehr asks how do you settle that without actually meeting and talking? Everybody wishes they knew.

No rush, guys. It's not like mid-January is less than a month away or anything.

If you want to hear the entire interview -- and it's certainly worth listening to if you're still keeping up with the lockout news -- then click here.

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

 
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