Of all the things Gary Bettman's said throughout the NHL lockout, the one I agree with most is this: "Collective bargaining, unless you've done it, isn't something that you can cover like a game."
That's especially true right now.
First of all, it would be the worst game ever. But the most important thing to remember is that closing this kind of deal takes a lot of time, a lot of patience and a lot of composure. For example, when the NBA and its players reached their deal in November 2011, it came after a 15-hour bargaining session.
We haven't seen much of that yet.
You also have to remember that it's been almost exactly a month since Bill Daly and Steve Fehr stood shoulder-to-shoulder in New York City, declaring December 4 the best day of discussions so far. And that didn't lead to a settlement.
Here's the best news for fans and people suffering financially: there is very little information seeping out. Sources aren't volunteering much. As a reporter, I hate that. But, as a fan, that's very good because it shows they're serious.
And that's really where we are right now: both sides are serious about trying to make progress. That's no guarantee anything is going to get done. It's still possible -- maybe even likely -- there will be blow-ups and dart-throwing. But, the NBA deal got done despite a huge argument late in the process.
Today will feature "smaller-group" face-to-face meetings and conference calls. For example, Jamal Mayers entered the NHL offices shortly before noon. He's been part of the NHLPA's pension committee for several years now, and will meet in one of those smaller groups to discuss some issues about pension.
The big get-together comes later, possibly around 5 p.m. (ET). That could lead to a long night of entertaining tweets from punch-drunk reporters.
I know many of you are hopeful. But don't get excited until it's done. There are a few potential traps and it will take time to navigate them.
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