Don't Buy the Drama
Two things seem abundantly clear.
As much as people want the NHL and NHLPA to be close to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, they're not. At least, there's no real information or evidence that should lead you to believe that an agreement is at hand. There's lots of guessing and media speculation, but little real information.
What about the fact they're still meeting in New York? Sure, that's good. But it doesn't mean they're agreeing on anything at all.
The second thing you have to avoid is believing that we are at a critical stage, or at the brink, or that D-Day is upon us, or any of the terms bandied about to suggest the talks are at a pivotal moment.
The 1994-95 lockout was ended on Jan. 11. The 2004-05 season was cancelled (finally) on Feb. 16, and there were even talks after that.
We're not even in mid-November yet. Given history, how can anyone possibly say we're at a make-or-break point? That's just phony drama, mostly generated by the media, with little basis in fact.
Right now, both sides are bleeding, and both are assessing on a day-to-day basis how much more they want to bleed, and measuring their losses against the possible gains, and calculating how far they can push the other side for maximum advantage.
That's all this really is at this point. Math, with some poker thrown in. Some want to, as is always the case, turn this into a morality play, something about honour or hypocrisy or doing the right thing.
It's about math. How much has been lost compared to how much can be gained.
In practical terms, of course, the talks that have been going on this week should have been taking place in August, but for a variety of reasons have mostly to do with perceived bargaining strengths and weaknesses on both sides, they didn't.
All that can really be hoped for at this point is that the talks in recent days have clarified positions and started to sketch the outlines of a possible deal. This is complicated stuff. The "make whole" provision, for example, is really about taking a new CBA and then exempting a whack of contracts from that new deal. The concept is one thing, the implementation of such a concept is quite another.
All you can really say is that talks are better than no talks. Period, full stop.