The NHL and NHLPA will finally be back at the negotiating table to talk about HRR Tuesday. It's a big step forward for the two sides, who met three straight days over the weekend, but not to talk about major issues.
That's not the case this week. The NHL and the NHLPA are finally willing to get their hands dirty again. Reportedly, Tuesday will be to discuss the actual definition of HRR, so the two sides can have a better idea of how big of a pot they're trying to split. And based on how those negotiations go, we should have a better idea of how long this lockout is really going to last.
Here's the thing: If these negotiations stall, you can pretty much wipe out any optimism that the two sides will be able to come to a quick agreement and end this lockout before it really starts hurting the game. These aren't like the meetings this weekend, where progress was almost expected to be made. No, this meeting -- and the meetings that will hopefully follow -- are the real issues. If the two sides can't find some common ground now, well, that says enough in itself.
The two sides both stand to finally lose some money if these negotiations don't go anywhere, another factor in why these meetings should yield progress. To this point, only the NHL has lost money. But when October 11th comes around, if there are no games being played then the players get no checks. Will that be enough to fuel the two sides to an agreement?
At the end of the day, these meetings will answer a lot of questions about these CBA talks. Whether or not the fans will like the answer is another thing.