The NHL and the NHL Players' Association are making serious strides toward a new labor agreement.
"We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal," said the Toronto Maple Leafs' Larry Tanenbaum, one of the six owners directly involved in ongoing talks with a group of players. "That's all I'm going to say."
Asked if there is now more clarity in where each side stands, Tanenbaum said: "Absolutely."
Commissioner Gary Bettman declined to comment after the Board of Governors met Wednesday at the law firm Proskauer Rose, citing respect for the process.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the League did not necessarily expect a formal proposal from the players Wednesday afternoon. But after several hours of big-picture talks Tuesday -- with Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr out of the room, waiting nearby for caucuses -- both sides were expected to get more specific.
The NHLPA was working on some type of proposal while the league's board of governors met.
After Tuesday's meetings, the players told the owners they would have something for them Wednesday morning, according to a source. The sides did have brief contact Wednesday morning, but the players did not give the owners a proposal. The players told the owners they did not want to rush things and would have something for them in the afternoon.
The owners have shown willingness to bend, particularly on contracting issues, but the players want to do their due diligence and don't want to make a mistake, according to the source. They feel there is still a lot of work to do. They want to continue the momentum, but they want to do it carefully.
Bettman was upbeat as he left the Manhattan hotel for the board meeting. The governors had little to say after they left the meeting -- still under the threat of fines for speaking publicly -- but there was an air of optimism.
"We feel good about the information we got," Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson said.
Could a deal be reached in the coming days?
"As long as we're talking," Tanenbaum said, "we're hopeful."