How many times since the summer have we heard that it's a big day in NHL CBA negotiations? Go through our StoryStream covering the timeline of these talks and you'll probably see the phrase "big day" about 20 times, but Thursday really is one of the bigger days we've seen to date.
The NHL and NHLPA have met for meaningful discussions more in the last week than they have since ... well, probably 2005 ... and following last Friday's cancellation of the Winter Classic, the urgency and seriousness on both sides of the table seems to be at its highest level to date.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr met late into the evening Saturday night, and since, the two sides have met for lengthy discussions Tuesday and Wednesday. They're expected to meet at length again Thursday and Friday (if not longer), and they're expected to take up the contentious 'Make Whole' provision, the issue on which the 2012-13 NHL season could hinge.
'Make Whole' was the NHL's proposed plan to guarantee the players' earn the full value on their current, existing contracts despite the planned rollback in the players' revenue share from 57 percent to 50 percent. The original outline called for the players to be 'made whole' with deferred payments over the life of their existing contracts, but after reading the fine print, the NHLPA objected, saying that those payments would come out of their own share down the line.
"It's players paying players," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said.
It's pretty clear the players won't agree to the make whole plan unless the money to pay for it comes out of the owners share of revenues, but the league has reportedly expressed movement on this. How much the league moves on this issue could be what saves the season, and that movement could hopefully come in the coming days.