On Day 99 of the NHL lockout, a glimmer of hope the NHL & NHLPA could resume CBA negotiations shortly after Christmas.

SPORTSNET.CA: John Shannon reports the NHL and NHLPA have reportedly made contact for the first time since talks broke off several days ago. While it’s unlikely the two sides could meet prior to Christmas, Shannon suggests we shouldn’t be surprised if talks resume the 26th or 27th of the month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those talks come in the shadow of the NHLPA membership vote authorizing its executive to file for disclaimer of interest, which must be done by January 2, 2012, as well as the league’s legal action to stymie that possibility. Optimism over a new CBA has reached a new ebb, with little expectation the two sides can get a deal done before the much-speculated “drop dead date” of January 15. Late last week, the league cancelled games up to January 14th.

St. Louis frustrated over NHL's handling of CBA talks.

St. Louis frustrated over NHL’s handling of CBA talks.

TAMPA BAY TIMES:  Damian Cristodero reports the NHL has “won” this labor standoff with the NHLPA, as the latter has conceded on the main issues (50-50 revenue split, term limits on player contracts, accepted a $300 million “make whole” provision insufficient to deal with existing contracts, and funding a new player pension fund). However, the league is digging in its heels on CBA term (10 years), a five-year term limit on contracts (seven years for teams re-signing players), insistence on a five percent variance in salary year-to-year, and no amnesty buyouts. Lightning star Martin St. Louis voiced his frustration over the league’s current stance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone knows the league has, on paper, “won” this standoff, but commissioner Gary Bettman and his lieutenants are digging in on those issues in hopes of making it difficult for teams to find and exploit loopholes in the new CBA. I also believe Bettman is trying to prove a point to the players, that it doesn’t matter who they bring in to represent them, they cannot beat the league in a CBA scrap. Ego is also likely driving this, as it would be a matter of personal pride for Bettman to do what MLB couldn’t: beat Donald Fehr at the negotiating table. The problem for Bettman, however, is even if he gets what he wants out of this, the solidarity of the team owners will disappear once the ink is dry on the next CBA, as they, their general managers and capologists will busily set about exploiting weaknesses in the deal.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks once again lays into Commissioner Bettman for the NHL lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman may well get the CBA he wants, even if it costs another season to achieve it, but it’ll be a Pyrhhic one, especially if “the greatest fans in the world” are slow to return.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports the NHL lockout is taking its toll upon charities in the Buffalo area.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most NHL cities are probably experiencing this problem to varying degrees. It’s part of the collateral damage from the lockout.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings alumni helped raise money for the family of a slain Detroit-area police officer. “The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association and the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children teamed up with the Heroes in Blue, a group of local police officers, for a charity hockey game at Compuware Arena in Plymouth and raised more than $120,000″ for the family of Patrick O’Rourke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well done!