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 back at it today

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: December 5, 2012 - 9:51 AM

UPDATED

The 18 locked-out players and six NHL owners who met until midnight Eastern last night will be back at it today in New York City.

The sides gathered soon after 8 a.m. CT for internal meetings. At 10 a.m., the NHL is holding a Board of Governors meeting.

But it sounds like the two sides will meet again formally this afternoon after the meeting without Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr in the room. That is why it appears as if Bettman will now not hold his pre-announced news conference at noon CT.

That's a good thing. That means there's momentum that he doesn't want to risk dousing.

The NHLPA reportedly has a proposal to present, so it sounds like we are still very much in a give and take stage of this process.

Check out the previous blog, but the NHL and NHLPA held a brief, joint press scrum late last night in which NHLPA General Counsel Steve Fehr called it the "best day" of the process thus far.

This was a pretty positive symbolic moment. Typically meetings have ended throughout this process with the NHL and NHLPA meeting separately with the media and taking potshots at each other. As recent as last week, Steve Fehr and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly did coinciding radio interviews on the Fan in Toronto where they took potshots at each other.

Now, they were standing side by side in front of an NHLPA backdrop saying both sides wanted to make a deal. It's clear the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby and his billionaire owner, Ron Birkle, have taken control of this process.

Basically, the tone and the mood have changed. Owners and players were seen conversing, players left smiling. etc.

Players had a very positive conference call between sessions. Owners will get their first real update during the very critical board meeting. To me, this is still delicate because we're all hearing optimism and progress, and yet Bettman and Donald Fehr haven't been in the room yet, proposals haven't formally gone back and forth and the owners are about to get their first update.

Again, lots of work to be done, but it sounds like both sides spent yesterday's meeting compromising, with the owners relenting on some of the contracting changes they were seeking.

So stay tuned, but at least both sides are working for the common good now. I'll be back on later, but it'll have to be after Gophers availability today. Will it be for the last time?

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