HEFTER: Will it be a happy hockey new year?
Well, what a refreshing change of pace. No high drama, no theatrics, no bullsh*t.
NHLPA boss Don Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman emerged from yesterday's bargaining session in New York City with an eye toward getting a deal done: a professional, business-like approach that has sorely been lacking in these CBA talks.
Will it get us closer to a new deal? Only time will tell. And time is running out.
Yesterday Bettman acknowledged that if the puck doesn't drop on the season by Jan. 19, there will be no season, which would suggest that unless both sides come to terms on a new deal by Jan. 11, leaving a week-long training camp, this will end up being nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Optimism? Sure. It's hard for hockey fans not to feel a sense of optimism right now. After all, borth sides are talking, aren't they? We couldn't say that only a few short days ago. And, look at that: both Bettman and Fehr are in the same room! That's something we couldn't say just a few short weeks ago.
Then again, a few short weeks ago, Bill Daly and Steve Fehr emerged from a session that included an expanded group of owners (and didn't include Bettman and Don Fehr) with a positive vibe in the air. However, it didn't take long for THAT bubble to burst, did it?
Of course, deadlines will do that. It tends to put one's feet to the fire. Is Jan. 19 THE drop-dead date to save the season? Who knows. Who cares at this point. NHL fans must be completely numb to it all. I know I am. Fans have been left twisting in the wind long enough to know that they will continue to twist in the wind until Bettman and Fehr announce a done deal.
And that's where we are today. Despite all this talk of the two sides salvaging a 48-game season beginning with a Jan. 19th puck drop, the truth of the matter is, Bettman and Fehr could surprise us all by getting a deal done, today. Or tomorrow.