NHL CBA Negotiations: Is There Some Room For Optimism?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden & NBA Governor, James L. Dolan speaks to the media at a press conference to announce Mike Woodson as the interim head coach of the New York Knicks following the resignation of Mike D'Antoni at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Throughout this entire summer the media, talking heads, fans and the two parties themselves have set deadlines for the current CBA Negotiations.

September 15th, you don't need me to remind you, is the NHL's deadline for a new CBA. If one isn't reached by the 15th, then the owners will lock out the players and drag the NHL into its second lockout since 2004.

Another deadline that's been "set" has been today, actually. With just five days remaining until the old CBA expires, many believe the two sides will feel the fire and finally start making some headway on a new deal. The two sides have had informal discussions on Friday and Saturday, meeting for nearly six hours between the two days, but both parties have been mum on what was discussed.

Join me after the jump for more.

The two sides reportedly are still apart on three issues: how to split the HRR, max contract lengths and ELC lengths. Those issues do seem to be bigger issues, but the biggest issue is the NHLPA's refusal for a new deal to cut back their salaries.

Informal negotiations broke through on Friday, including phone calls and e-mails through the weekend, but a bulk of the negotiating -- if the two sides truly want to get a deal don by September 15th -- will obviously need to get done this week.

Among the hockey news that happened this weekend? New York Rangers' owner James Dolan gave a quick little quote while in attendance at the team's charity dog walk.

"The only thing I can say is that I want us to play hockey," Rangers owner James Dolan told ESPNNewYork.com.

A lot of people have lumped Dolan in with the "big market owners" who have been doing everything in their power to slam the player's wallets as these negotiations have continued. I've tried to stay away from that type of thinking, especially since Ed Snider seems to be the only owner who has been truly vocal during this entire process.

Remember that any side that speaks of the negotiations stands to be fined $1-million, but Snider seems to be the one voice that the media can pick out when it comes to some of what Gary Bettman has been telling the media.

Still, there is some room for optimism, especially if the Rangers -- one of the biggest markets the league has -- have an owner who wants to get back on the ice.

It also seems to be a significant improvement that the two sides are even talking. Brad Richards made a point to say that "last time" (in reference to the 2004 lockout) the two sides weren't even talking at this stage. To see the two sides finally hunker down? Well, it's about time.

We only have five days left before the 15th. Let's hope things keep moving in the right direction.

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