Word is circulating that one of the reasons there was some traction generated during the meeting between NHL owners and players Tuesday is that the owners showed some flexibility on the issue of contract structure and duration.
That is a major point of contention, and if the league backs off its previous insistence that deals run no more than five years and have strict limits on how much a player's salary can vary from year to year over the life of the contract, the NHL Players' Association might well be willing to concede ground in other areas.
The catch is, the owners wanted those rigid guidelines to prevent teams from giving players deals that cause long-term problems for the clubs that give them out. (Rick DiPietro's agreement with the New York Islanders, for example.)
When the NHL's Board of Governors convenes later this morning, Commissioner Gary Bettman should get a good sense of just how important contractual matters are to owners from across the league, and that presumably will influence how far the league will be willing to go when talks start again, which might be sometime this afternoon.
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