NHL lockout 2012: Sides trading proposals, actually negotiating

The NHL and NHLPA have exchanged proposals on Wednesday in the first true negotiations of the lockout.

The NHL and NHLPA continue to meet into the evening hours on Wednesday as talks have progressed to point of actual proposals being traded across the table in New York City.

The two sides met for just over nine hours on Tuesday without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA deputy director Donald Fehr, as six owners and 18 players discussed most of the major issues that have stalled negotiations. Positive momentum was found and progress apparently made, as optimistic reports began to surface leading into Wednesday's NHL Board of Governor's meeting.

On Wednesday afternoon, both sides reconvened with the NHLPA putting forth a formal proposal based on the prior discussions. While Bettman and Fehr were apparently still not part of the formal discussions, the NHLPA proposal was apparently positive enough that the league countered with its own proposal after an hour of internal talks.

There is a sense of optimism growing among those present, although there are notable reservations coming from those on the players' side.

There were multiple reports of owners and those with the league appearing upbeat and optimistic, as both Fehr and Bill Daly were seen together in the halls multiple times. The leaks coming from the players, however, have been much more reserved, as it is clear the union is concerned that things can fall apart quickly if the owners are not pleased with how things are progressing.

At issue are several major hurdles the two sides must overcome, including player contract rights and the so-called "make whole provision" that would allow players to retain the value of current contracts. There was a new wrinkle thrown into the mix on Wednesday, however, with the league apparently pushing for a 10-year agreement.

The players have pushed for a shorter term, concerned that they will be locked into a deal that is too restrictive should the league once again experience record growth over the coming years. The owners are concerned with being back at the negotiating table in just a few years, as a 10-year term would allow the league to show corporate sponsors and potential partners that labor unrest is not just around the corner once more.

As it stands, the NHLPA is expected to make a counter to what the NHL put on the table just before both sides broke for dinner. This was the back-and-forth negotiating many expected two months ago; as it stands, the two sides are currently working to likely save the season.

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