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NHL, NHLPA hold extended ‘candid’ talks, ‘critical open issues’ to be discussed Thursday

Sean Leahy
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The NHL podium that launched a Twitter account.

Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs told reporters in New York City Wednesday afternoon, "We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal."

Well, a second day of prolonged discussions between a handful of NHL owners and players lasted over 10 hours and went until 1 a.m ET, and reasons for optimism were boosted even higher than they were after Tuesday's talks. Two consecutive days and over 17 hours of discussions. Desperation time has set in.

"We had a series of candid discussions tonight. We will meet again tomorrow (Thursday)," said Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets, speaking on behalf of the PA. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly echoed Hainsey's comments saying, "We had good, candid dialogue; there continues to be critical open issues between the two parties."

Daly also said that the league is expecting to hear back on those open issues Thursday.

According to the Canadian Press, both sides swapped proposals on Wednesday. One aspect has the NHL reportedly pushing for a 10-year term for this new CBA with an out clause after eight, while the union would like something shorter. But for the sake of getting a deal closed maybe the PA relents for the longer term?

John Shannon of Sportsnet is reporting that the NHL has moved on the "Make Whole" provision, bringing their total contribution to $300 million; unrestricted free agency and arbitration rules would remain the same, along with their stance on contract limits.

Something that reportedly also came up during Wednesday's talks was -- if a deal falls into place soon -- games being played on Christmas, according to Damien Cox of the Toronto Star. This idea was brought up in 2009 and supported by both the NHL and NHLPA, but that was as part of a typical 82-game schedule, not a truncated one where opening night for the 2012-13 season could fall around Dec. 25.

(Hockey on Christmas brought the typical groans from some members of the media who were overlooking the thought that, you know, there'd be actual NHL hockey to cover instead of standing on sidewalks in New York City and Toronto.)

Clearly there's headway being made here. The expiration date of the 2012-13 season is quickly approaching and talks have reached a critical juncture. Both sides will meet internally on Thursday morning before re-convening to go at it again.

We've all been wishing since the summer that both sides would lock themselves in a room until a new deal is agreed upon. This is the closest we'll get to that, and hopefully the positive vibes and desperation in the air aren't flushed away like they were after previous meetings.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter @Sean_Leahy

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