While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr are just commencing discussions on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are pockets of optimism within the game.
Many use words like hope and optimistic in verbalizing the wish that an NHL CBA will be completed prior to the Sept. 15 deadline, and no hockey time will be missed.
Many observers around the game agents, executives, players -- sense the worst case scenario could a shortened season that would start in December and January, but there are just as many that think the hockey business is simply doing too well to stall things.
The good news: almost nobody is entertaining the possibility that an entire season could be lost as it was during the 2004-05 NHL lockout when hockey took a beating.
When asked by CSNNE.com during a Thursday interview what he thought might happen amid a summer of CBA negotiations, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli let his optimism flag flow freely.
Maybe Im an eternal optimist on this stuff, but I think there will be no time missed, said Chiarelli. I hope weve learned from our last go-round. We always try to improve it, but I think the NHL product is pretty good.
The combination of a league making 3.3 billion in record revenues, players that are much more hands on in the day-to-day business of the NHL and ironically enough the presence of the former MLBPA Director in Fehr at negotiations all give the Bs GM hope theres that word again -- a deal can be reached that will preserve the full 2012-13 hockey season.
I dont know Donald Fehr aside from what Ive seen of him in the past, but I think hes a deal-maker, said Chiarelli. I know he does his job. I hope the two sides get together soon, but Im an optimist.
There seems to be more player interaction and involvement with league affairs. Specifically with the competition committee and a lot of the things that take place between the league and the teams, and that will help facilitate all of this. At least I hope that it does. Weve got Brendan Shanahan involved in the player safety department, weve got the competition committee and weve got the standards committee. I think the players are closer to the business than theyve ever been and I would think that will help.
Fans inside and outside the game hope Chiarellis optimism is well-founded and that the business of the NHL continues on without a hiccup.
That possibility should become obvious, one way or the other, once talks begin in earnest over the next six weeks.