Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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NHL players, owners gain traction, will meet Wednesday

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: December 5, 2012 - 12:00 AM

UPDATED

The group of six owners and 18 players met for several hours Tuesday and ended just before midnight eastern. The groups will meet again early Wednesday morning, but afterward, in a lockout first that speaks to just how much true traction was made today, NHL and NHLPA No. 2's Bill Daly and Steve Fehr held a brief, joint press scrum with reporters on the scene.

According to Twitter reports, the two stood side by side at a podium and called the day constructive. Fehr went as far as to say it was the "best day we've had so far."

Said Daly, "We will work hard to make a deal." Fehr said there was still a lot of work to be done and didn't want to paint a rosy picture yet. But Daly said the good thing is he's encouraged both sides want to get a deal done. Remember, less than 2 weeks ago, he said publicly on the Fan in Toronto that he had his doubts union leadership wanted to get a deal done. The NHLPA has said similar things.

Neither took questions, and honestly, there is still work to be done here. Trust me, this is still a delicate process, but it's very clear there was traction, progress. Positivity for the first time in a long time.

I've texted back and forth with a handful of players tonight. None of the players were in the meetings, but some were on a conference call that was very positive. These players are anxiously paying attention.

Of course, until the two men who weren't in the room -- Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr -- agree there is traction, progress and reason to be optimistic, it all could be for naught.

But the good news is there are some fresh faces in there, including Pittsburgh owner Ron Birkle, who reportedly had been a constant voice of reason in the meetings. Penguins players Sidney Crosby and Craig Adams are two of the players representing the NHLPA, and those on the scene say Penguins part-owner Mario Lemieux has also been seen around the hotel. It really appears that Burkle and Crosby have taken hold of this process.

Could you imagine if the Penguins play a major role in ending the lockout? It'd only be fair considering the last lockout, which resulted in Pittsburgh winning the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes, saved the Penguins.

Sooooooo, let's hope. As Matt Cullen and Zach Parise said in Tuesday's Star Tribune, it's hard to wrap one's head around a second lost full season in eight years.

In the meantime, at 10 a.m. CT Wednesday, the NHL Board of Governors meet in New York. Craig Leipold and Chuck Fletcher are representing the Wild.

Gary Bettman has his normal noon presser scheduled to provide update on the board meeting.

Keep your fingers crossed.

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