Another CBA meeting with mediators fails to move NHL & NHLPA closer to an agreement, but a deal may be still possible in the coming weeks.

CBC.CA: Two days of talks with mediators failed to bring the NHL and NHLPA closer to a new CBA. US President Barack Obama, asked about the NHL lockout by a reporter, reminded both sides they make a lot of money on the back of the fans, suggesting the two sides must do right by hockey fans. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, meanwhile, said he expects to speak with NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr. Daly expect mediators will continue to monitor negotiations, though no formal talks are scheduled.

Elliotte Friedman believes the NHL owners appear, on paper, to have won this current labor battle, but pointed out Daly and league commissioner Gary Bettman “just don’t look right. They don’t look like guys who are about to win”, while NHLPA director Donald Fehr’s mannerisms, expression and comportment hasn’t changed throughout the lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve noticed that as well about Bettman and Daly. They certainly aren’t acting like the calm, cool, almost smug pair of negotiators they were during the previous lockout. I’ve heard it suggested it’s all an act on their part to rattle the players by acting publicly upset, but that just doesn’t seem to be their MO, especially for Bettman, who prides himself on never being publicly rattled by anything. While I don’t doubt what Bettman and Daly have said over the course of this lockout was meant to put pressure on the players, how they’re saying suggests the pair may be facing pressure themselves from their bosses to get a deal done soon. I also suspect they’re frustrated with the Fehrs’ negotiation style, especially Donald’s. I agree with Friedman that, on paper, the new CBA appears another impending labor “victory” for the owners, but as always, it remains to be seen if it’ll remain that way over its course.

ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside reports a member of the NHL Board of Governors provided him with a framework for a deal he believes would be acceptable to both sides. It would contain the following:

“-A nine-year CBA with a seven-year out for either side.
-A six-year contract limit with front-load/back-diving protection and eight-year limits for players who have been with a team for five years.
-Some simple buyout option as long as the buyouts are within the salary cap.”

Burnside presented that proposal to an unnamed “high-profile veteran player”, who agreed it would be the kind of offer that should be put before a vote by the players. The columnist also warned it is difficult to gauge how the league would react to that proposal.

Craig Custance, meanwhile, interviewed player agent Don Meehan, whose clients include unsigned restricted free agents P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche and Michael Del Zotto of the NY Rangers.  If a season-saving CBA is implemented soon, Meehan believes player agents and general managers will have to move quickly to get those players under contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That proposal from the BoG member certainly appears a workable compromise, but it remains to be seen if any of those points are something either side would seriously consider. I also wonder if this is a ploy on the league’s side to drive a wedge between the Fehrs and the players.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle suggests the aforementioned proposal is the kind of compromise that, instead of coming from the bargaining table, is “leaking out through media in the kind of back-channel dealings that can sometimes occur near the end of these interminable labour disputes.” Mirtle also suggests there’s little left for the two sides to fight over, but neither side wants to give in too early and not get enough, or risk giving up too much.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes while there are players willing to accept the league’s latest proposal to save the season, there are at least an equal percentage of owners appalled over Bettman’s unwillingness to bridge the narrow gap separating the two sides.

Zetterberg believes CBA talks reaching a crucial stage.

DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, currently playing in Switzerland, believes the next two-three weeks will be crucial toward getting a new CBA done.

YAHOO! SPORTS: Nicholas J. Cotsonika explains why imposing a “drop dead date” on negotiations could actually do more harm than good. “The closer they get to the brink of cancellation, the more delicate the situation becomes. One false move, one mistake, could be costly. You can’t force the brink to come before its time, and it’s just not time yet.”  Based upon Bettman’s suggestion last week that anything less than a 48 game schedule wasn’t feasible, Cotsonika suggests mid-January as a possible deadline.

SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector wonders what’s next for the NHL’s concussion policy once a new CBA is implemented.

FORBES.COM: Tom Van Riper believes the NHL’s “best hope” is contraction by reducing the league to 20 teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question isn’t “Should the NHL contract?”, but “Will the NHL contract?” The answer, of course, is no. They’ll relocate franchises before considering contraction.

DENVER POST: Joe Sakic, Claude Lemieux and Dave Reid recall the 1994-95 lockout and the shortened season that followed, remembering the latter was fun.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Tony Gallagher suggests this lockout lacks entertainment, like that provided by Wayne Gretzky and his tour of All-Stars during the 1994-95 lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Back then, a lockout was a new experience, and neither side really expected it would last. Not so this time around, which could explain why we’re not seeing a touring group of NHL all-stars. For that matter, there was no all-star tour during the last lockout, when both sides by this point were barely speaking to each other. 

BOSTON GLOBE: Former Bruin Stan Jonathan is facing charges of criminal negligence causing death in what appears the accidental shooting of a hunter in Southern Ontario last month. If convicted, Jonathan faces four or more years in prison.