If you are down at the Minnesota State Fair this afternoon, be sure to stop by the Star Tribune booth from 4-4:30 p.m.

I will be sitting down with Mike Yeo for a Q and A, but I'll also give Wild fans the opportunity to ask the second-year coach questions. If you cannot make the Fair, you can submit a question for Yeo on the previous blog. I'll be posting some of Yeo's answers on the blog in the future.

The Star Tribune booth is at the far side of the Grandstand Ramp on the north side of Carnes between Chambers and Nelson.

This morning, at 9:55, I will be on KFAN talking to our own Lavelle E. Neal The Third. Also, on Friday, from 9:55-11 a.m., I will be at the State Fair talking to Paul Allen from the KFAN booth.

Yesterday, I went down to the Octagon Pro Hockey Camp at the St. Louis Park Rec Center, where a number of NHL players (Zach Parise, Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Harding, Ryan Malone, Keith Ballard, Paul Martin, Mike Lundin, John Scott, Chris Porter, Ryan Murray, among others), college players (Nick Bjugstad, among others) and high school players were skating.

I talked to a number of them about the potential of a second lockout in eight years and the third in Commissioner Gary Bettman's tenure. Yesterday in New York, the NHLPA hierarchy met briefly with Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly to ask a handful of questions about the proposal the NHL extended on Tuesday. That proposal was described by Bettman as "significant" and "meaningful."

The NHLPA plans to respond to the proposal by the end of the week -- perhaps even today.

Here is the story by the Canadian Press.

Before I let you hear from a couple of players regarding the possibility of a lockout, I have been getting a lot of questions as to how the Wild -- and 15 other teams -- would get in line with the NHL-proposed $58 million cap for Year One since the new NHL proposal does not include a rollback in salaries. Bettman wouldn't address that, but I am told by a league source that the "escrow would take care of" these teams.

As agent Allan Walsh indicated on Twitter, a rollback and escrow sure sounds like the same thing. Either way, the NHL is proposing that the players give a lot of money back.

Parise, the new Wild winger, and Ballard, a Vancouver Canucks defenseman and former Gopher, were first-year pros during the 2004-05 lockout, so they spent the year in the minors. Yesterday, I talked to both of them about the labor negotiations.

Here is Parise:

I'm still optimistic that we'll all be able to figure it out with the amount of time that we have left. I'm just trying to be hopeful and optimistic about it, so we'll find out some reaction about what [union chief] Don [Fehr] thinks about the NHL's proposal in the next couple days.

For whatever reason, [lockouts] seem to be what Gary likes to do. Whether this time around it's a negotiating tactic or what, you'd hope that he's smart enough to realize that as a league, the fanbases, with the momentum that the league has gotten, that it wouldn't be a good idea to have a lockout.

I thought the first proposal was embarrassing. Embarrassing. If you look at it in the long run, in my opinion, it was a quick fix for them, but I feel seven years down the road, it's not addressing the problem and we're going to be in the exact same spot where we are now. I could go on for a long time, but I thought it was a joke.

It was their deal and now they want us to bail them out again. They were so adamant about a salary cap. 'That'll solve all the problems, all the problems,' well, you've got a salary cap and you put yourself in more problems. And now they want the players to bail them out again. Fortunately we have a good, strong union this time around and we've got a good guy running it where we're way more educated in what's going on in the talks. That's helped us bigtime. I think the league sees these guys aren't messing around.

We're all on the same page right now. I think Don has done a good job of keeping everybody informed of what is going on and how the talks have been. Last time around, I probably couldn't answer any of these questions you were asking because I had no idea. Now we all know a lot more of what's

Here is Ballard:

Depending on what happens this week with the meetings, I still think it can get done. You can see on the two initial proposals, we were both pretty far apart.

We're playing under their exact system what they wanted in '04. Now, for whatever reasons, it doesn't work for them, so they want to completely redo everything. There has to be some common ground for this to work.

(Ballard believes last time the NHL knew the union would eventually crack. He says the fact that this time the union is unified and educated should worry the league). I don't have as much knowledge on the first lockout. That was my first year pro and I spent the year in the minors and I wasn't really involved in any of the stuff. But going through two executive directors at that time with Bob Goodenow and then Ted Saskin, there was a lot of dissention. As it wore on, I think it got more and more and the league noticed that and got exactly what they wanted. And now, with Don, there's so much communication. There's daily communication from the NHLPA to all the players, not just the guys that are reps and not just the guys that are at the meetings. There's communication on a daily basis to all 700-some guys. Everybody's at least informed on the basic issues as to what happened that day, how negotiations went. Even if it's a short paragraph email, everybody knows what happened, what went on and where we stand.

It'd be unfortunate if we didn't start on time. But as a union and a players' association, we have to battle for our share just like the owners want to battle for what they think they deserve. I can't see anybody dragging this thing out and missing an entire year on either side. The game has gotten so good right now. There's obviously some teams that struggle. The fanbases are unbelievable. The cap has gone up every year because revenues have gone up. That's exactly the system the owners wanted. They wanted that salary cap. It's based on a percentage of revenue and each team has done great job to grow the game. The game is as good as it's ever been right now. There's parity in the league. It's everything they wanted.

See you at the Fair.