In many ways, the NHL lockout could not have possibly gone worse for both the owners and the players. They’ve gone without speaking for weeks on end, and for much of the past four months, they’ve accomplished nothing apart from pissing off fans and marginalizing the entire sport to a more distant fourth place on the totem pole than it was a year ago. For the first time in a long time, however, there might actually be some forward progress.

The NHL issued the Players’ Union a surprise offer earlier this week that allows contract lengths to be raised by a year, buyouts not to affect the salary cap and raises to happen in faster increments. All three of these concessions are clear signs that the league is interested in budging in order to have a season, and according to ESPN, the owners and the NHLPA will reportedly begin discussing the offer during renewed informal talks on Sunday. If things go well, this could pave the way for real negotiations and hopefully, a counteroffer.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and the powers that be for the NHL have said all along that they need at least a forty-eight game season to make the process worthwhile. Consequently, all involved are hoping to get a deal negotiated by January 11th in order to get the acceptable number of games in by the end of June.

We’ll keep you updated as to the progress of the labor talks. Until then, I wouldn’t start holding my breath for a season just yet.

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