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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Day 82: Latest "most critical 24 hours" of the NHL lockout

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: December 6, 2012 - 11:51 AM

Every single day in the lockout has been the "most critical day of negotiations." Every stage of this lockout has been the most "critical 24-36 hours" of this lockout.

Until tomorrow, of course.

Well, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, is the most critical day and 24-36 hours of the fun that is the third NHL lockout in 18 years and second in eight. Until tomorrow.

The goal, of course, is to get tomorrow because today is so critical.

Things honestly are very close to going off the rails.

As I reported Wednesday night/Thursday morning, things didn't go nearly as well as it did Tuesday when league No. 2 and union 2 Bill Daly and Steve Fehr stood jointly in front of an NHLPA backdrop for the first time in this process and held a brief press scrum. The visual said it all: things were rosy. The words said it all, with Fehr calling it the "best day" in the process.

That's because owners and players talked generally without storming off in a huff.

Then came Wednesday when things were put down on paper and the real heavy lifting of making a deal begun.

There were some tense exchanges, some near blowups, and not just from the Jeremy Jacobs of the world. The Boston owner has become everybody's favorite target for blame, but the moderates got fed up and wanted to end things as well when the players weren't receptive enough to the league throwing more money on "Make Whole."

The owners angrily left the meeting. But the two sides decided to try to patch things up and keep working at it, which created some "positivity" among sources on both sides.

Then, things ended tensely again.

The reality is as close as the sides appear because they did have some agreements yesterday, those bargaining feel everything hangs by a thread.

First of all, the $89 million extra thrown at "Make Whole" is based solely on a 10-year CBA because the league wants to end the cycle of lockouts. The union has always balked at that because Donald Fehr has convinced the players that they don't want to lock themselves into a long-term deal after making so many concessions.

The league also wants to end the long-term, back-diving contracts, so they want five-year max deals (seven to re-sign one's own free agent) and 5% max variance in salaries. This obviously wouldn't affect the vast majority of NHLers, but to the union, this restricts players' rights bigtime.

Now, the PA is insistent that Donald Fehr comes back in the room. That means Gary Bettman comes back in the room. And when that happens, things usually go toxic fast.

So we again are on murky ground, my fellow hockey fans.

My gut: this still gets done eventually. But as has been the trend of this whole process, it won't happen easy.

Both sides need to decide what issues are worth risking a full season for. Anyway, there's got to come a point where the 700 players deserve the right to vote for a proposal, one would think.

As of this moment the PA is talking internally. Then the two should meet again with different sets of rules, of course.


New England 0 2nd Qtr 13:57
Seattle 0
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 77 FINAL
Ole Miss 59
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