While it remains unclear whether any proposal has been laid on the table, since details have also been scarcely leaked this time around, what is clear is that the NHL appears willing to make a large concession. The biggest detail hanging up the players is not necessarily a reduction in their share of the revenue, but rather how their already-signed contracts will fit in the new plan, since salaries are linked to revenue.
The owners reportedly are willing to guarantee every dollar of contracts already signed without money being deferred through escrow.
Time is of the essence. Talks resume Thursday. Even if a deal were to be brokered Friday, lawyers billing by the thousands per hour like to wrangle over 700-page documents for a while. Plus, there are other noneconomic issues to be hashed out.
Some of the other concerns include contract term limits, salary-cap circumvention, entry-level contracts and free agency. All of that is secondary at the moment.
Given that the deal will need to be ratified by both sides, approximately 200 players will need to return from Europe for an approximately weeklong training camp, the clock is ticking already for a Dec. 1 start.
In the meantime, sponsors such as Molson Coors - the league's official beer sponsor - are lining up to hit the NHL's pocketbook, since they've lost revenue due to the lockout. Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn said on Wednesday that the lockout has particularly hurt sales of Coors Light and Molson Canadian in Canada and that hockey is the company's most important cold-weather sales driver.
"Whether it's people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sorts of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map and you just can't replicate them," Swinburn told the Canadian Press. "It's a national sport, so the whole of Canada is glued to it, one way or the other."
Each day this drags on results in more revenue lost for both sides. The longer it goes, the two sides will be willing to lose a billion to save a couple hundred million.
I've been a natural pessimist through this whole thing, knowing the tendencies of two iron-fisted negotiators in Bettman and Fehr. These well-intentioned meetings have me reinvigorated; maybe these guys aren't dumb enough to blow a second season in 8 years.
Maybe I have it wrong. Maybe, just maybe, this week's positive vibes are the exact reason Talbot went overseas, in an attempt to sharpen up, so he can build on a career year. He barnstormed through Quebec with teammate Bruno Gervais and former Flyer Simon Gagne to raise $400,000 through charity games. Clearly, charity games don't get the same competitive fires going. He is expected to join Tampere's lineup this weekend.
"[A settlement] could happen really quick, a lot faster than people think," Talbot told Comcast SportsNet last week. "I would consider going overseas, just to get a little competition and practice with a team and get ready. You never know when the NHL is going to start again."
Rather than fly to Europe, maybe the better bet was to head to Las Vegas and take advantage of those +150 odds that there will be a season. What could possibly go wrong in Vegas?
Flyers chairman Ed Snider and Mayor Nutter will unveil the renovated Tarken Ice Rink in Oxford Circle on Friday, culminating a $12 million public/private campaign led by Snider to fully enclose four city rinks for year-round operation . . . Looking for a good hockey read during the lockout? Try Sean Pronger's newly released "Journeyman," which is a hilarious memoir of his career that included stops with seven different NHL teams. Pronger, the older brother of the Flyers' Chris Pronger, has a ton of personality, and the book is packed with laughs. Also interesting: "The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the NHL and Changed the Game Forever," by Jonathon Gatehouse, a well-timed and incredibly insightful look at Bettman's reign as he sorts through his third lockout in 19 years.
54: Days of the NHL lockout, which started on Sept. 16.
327: Games canceled by the NHL, the entire schedule through the month of November plus the Jan. 1 Winter Classic scheduled for Michigan's "Big House."
$800 million: Estimated revenue lost by the cancellation of 26.5 percent of the schedule. The Flyers gross approximately $1.9 million per home game in ticket sales, parking and concessions.
Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has been having a rough time in Russia, playing for CSKA Moscow's Red Army team to pass time during the lockout. Bryzgalov is getting the third-string share of starts for Sergei Federov's club. He is parked behind a 25-year-old who has never even sniffed the NHL.
Bryzgalov is 2-4-0 with an 89.2 save percentage and 2.74 goals-against, compared with the team's starter, who leads the KHL in most categories. Bryzgalov recently snapped on Russian reporters after a 6-2 win. No, that's not a misprint: a 6-2 win.
According to Sportbox.ru, the conversation went like this:
Question: Can you talk about the win tonight?
Bryzgalov: What do you want me to say? You've been writing filth about me and now you are asking for an interview. Go look around; there are so many good players. You can go talk to them. Why me? In reality, my wife, Zhenya, forbade me from giving interviews and so did my parents. If you call them in Togliatti and they give you their permission, then I might do it. Do you think I'm joking? No, I'm not joking in this case. I am telling the truth.
Question: At least share your impressions about the game?
Bryzgalov: What impression are you talking about? I didn't have to work hard. Even my uniform is dry. You can touch it yourself if you want just to make sure.
Not surprisingly, Brayden Schenn (11 points) and Sean Couturier (10) are leading the Phantoms (4-5-0) in scoring through the team's first nine games. The next closest skater on the Phantoms has only four points. Rookie goaltender Cal Heeter, the undrafted Ohio State product who beat out Finnish native Niko Hovinen for the backup job, has struggled in the early going. Heeter is 1-3-0 with a 3.76 GAA and .853 save percentage.
Contact Frank Seravalli at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DNFlyers. For more Flyers coverage and opinion, read his blog at philly.com/FrequentFlyers.