After the NHL cancels the remainder of its December schedule, the league and the NHLPA prepare for another round of CBA talks.

SPORTSNET: John Shannon reports the NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed to meet on Wednesday in an undisclosed location to resume CBA negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Get the sense both sides, despite the stormy breakdown in talks last week, feel they are close to a season-saving deal. The consensus among the punditry is the two sides are close enough now to work something out. Here’s hoping they can get it done before Christmas.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle interviewed NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who admitted the two sides would’ve been close to an agreement last week if the players had accepted the owners’ terms on the three main dividing points (term of CBA, term limits on player contracts, no transitional mechanism like amnesty buyouts or cap on escrow). “Yes,” he wrote in an e-mail, “but they weren’t settled. … That’s like saying if my grandmother had wheels she would be a car. Since they missed on all three, it doesn’t seem like we were that close.”

Could NHL face class action lawsuit from season ticket holders?

Roy MacGregor reports “One of the country’s key legal minds was musing privately last weekend over the possibility of season-ticket holders launching a class-action suit against the NHL and its 30 teams. His notion lies in the possibility that season-ticket holders were deliberately misled when they either purchased or renewed their seats.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those season-ticket holders would have to prove teams sold season ticket with the knowledge the league was intent on locking out the players. Not sure how far a class action lawsuit against the league by season-ticket holders would go, but it certainly would create an interesting story if the case went against the league. 

ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside believes the NHL and NHLPA are close enough on the key issues to reach a new collective  bargaining agreement.

USATODAY: Kevin Allen lists five reasons why there will be NHL hockey this season. Among them: the gap between the two sides isn’t that wide, and there’s still enough time to play a 48-game schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good points (apart from the proposed ten year CBA, which I note in my latest Soapbox column) by Allen. I would add the fact the two sides have been more or less in constant negotiations since the summer as another reason a deal can be done. At this point in the last lockout the two sides were barely speaking to each other.

PUCK DADDY: Nicholas J. Cotsonika noted some key points which went unreported from last week’s coverage of NHL CBA talks. Among them: the PA backed off its pursuit of a guarantee players salaries wouldn’t decline even if revenue did; a mid-level cap exception might still be on the table (uncertain at this point); and the two sides didn’t discuss how the salary cap floor and ceiling would be determined.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes neither side can claim the moral high ground in this standoff.

 DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Danny Cleary doesn’t see much sense in staging a season if there’s no resolution by January 15th.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s not the only one.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ian Mendes wonders how aging stars like Senators 40-year-old captain Daniel Alfredsson would be affected by a shortened season.

TSN.CA: Over two weeks after making critical comments about NHLPA director Donald Fehr, Washington Capitals defensemen Roman Hamrlik has softened his tone, pledging his support to the union.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expecting the conspiracy theories over who “got” to Hamrlik to begin any time now…

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests several NHL teams could be faced with gutting their rosters next summer if there’s no provision for an amnesty buyout, suggesting the players pushed for an amnesty buyout to benefit both sides.

“Players bought out under this program before this season at either one-third or two-thirds depending upon their age could be re-signed only for the difference between the buyout amount and the full contract. The entire amount would count against the players’ collective share but the buyout team would not be charged a cap hit.

When a major league baseball player is picked up after being released, the new team pays only the league minimum while the original team is on the hook for the remainder of the contract. This would be similar in concept.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league is against amnesty buyout because it would be “money outside the system”. The PA can propose something like Brooks suggested, but I have my doubts they’ll succeed in getting the league to agree to it. As teams would be allowed this season under a new CBA to remain above whatever the salary cap limit would be, there would be a fire sale of players next summer as those clubs would aim to become salary cap compliant for Year Two.

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