Back from vacation, with the latest NHL lockout headlines, updates on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, as well as the ongoing saga of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.

CANADIAN PRESS (VIA NATIONAL POST): The NHL and NHLPA will meet again on Wednesday and Thursday for CBA negotiations (Yay!), but core economic issues aren’t expected to be part of the discussions (Boo!).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until the two sides finally stop pussyfooting around and start discussing “core economic issues” (hockey-related revenue and revenue sharing), this lockout is no closer to ending than it was a week ago.

Bettman has tight rein on NHL owners.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: For an interesting bit of insight into the kind of ship NHL Gary Bettman runs, check out this piece by David Shoalts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rumor has been floated since last Friday, when Bettman and his lieutenant Bill Daly flew to Toronto to meet with the Fehrs at NHLPA HQ, suggesting the unity of NHL ownership is showing some “cracks” and some owners could be pressuring Bettman to get a deal done. After you read the Shoalts piece, along with this one from the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk, you’ll understand why I’m skeptical of that rumor. The fact core economic issues won’t be discussed in this week’s talks says all we need to know about any pressure Bettman may be getting from the owners. 

POST-GAZETTE.COM: The high cost of insuring Sidney Crosby could make it very difficult for him to play in Europe during the lockout.

 STLTODAY.COM: A lengthy lockout could make it tough for the Blues to attract corporate sponsors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a problem facing all struggling NHL clubs, but one Bettman and his cabal believe can be overcome, even if another season is lost to a lockout. It’s a risky gamble, especially for teams like the Blues.

NJ.COM: Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador offers his take on the lockout, saying he’d rather his side gets the right deal rather than rushing into one which won’t benefit them just for the sake of starting up the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, the players are strongly united, but as with the last lockout, but that unity could be tested the longer this current lockout goes, and the paycheques dry up, and the threat of another lost season becomes more real. That being said, I’m not doubting their resolve this time around. Last time, the players didn’t really believed the owners would kill a season. This time, they’re expecting it, and have prepared accordingly. 

PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL: Another month, another 30-day extension in the ongoing saga of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Why do I have the feeling that the lockout will be over before the sale of the Coyotes is completed?

WASHINGTON POST: Katie Carrera responds to an ESPN:The Magazine report on Washington-area sports teams, which included a piece wondering if Alexander Ovechkin is losing the love of DC sports fans because of his inability to cash in during the playoffs.

TSN.CA: An updated list of locked-out NHL players in Europe.