A couple of thoughts about Friday night's labour news:
It's likely the "make whole" provision is the key to getting a deal done. Both sides know they are eventually getting to 50/50, but it's impossible to arrive there without 1) the players eating a chunk of their contracts or 2) the NHL "protecting" those signed deals somehow.
That protection is the "make whole" proposal.
However, when the NHL first injected this idea into the process, it was to be funded by the players. Any salary one of them later received for losses over the next two seasons would count against everyone else's.
Once this was explained to the players, they lost interest.
It was just a matter of time, though, before the league was going to take ownership of this plan. As a number of you cynically pointed out, it comes the same day the Winter Classic was cancelled. All of a sudden, "make whole" was a worldwide trending topic and discussion moved away from the New Year's Nightmare -- especially after it was revealed the No. 2s (Bill Daly and Steve Fehr) were going to meet in a secret location.
But the NHLPA is going to have some hard questions, including: What exactly does "ownership" mean -- some of it or all of it? What is the formula going to be? And, most importantly, what do we have to accept in order for you to do this? If the answer is "everything else we've proposed," we're going to have a problem.
After the epic meltdown of the last face-to-face get-together, there was a sense neither side would want to meet unless there was something really worth talking about. In a Thursday conference call, the players made it clear they wanted their leadership to do more negotiating.
There's potential here. But, as always, the devil is in the details.
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