Before Tuesday's meetings between a sextet of NHL owners and 18 locked-out players to explore ways of breaking the 80-day labor impasse, commissioner Gary Bettman said: "I'm hoping we get to where we need to be."
It's possible that they are finally getting there.
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In the longest day of talks since the lockout began Sept. 16, the participants, which included Penguins owner Rob Burkle, a former labor negotiator, and star Sidney Crosby, met for 5 1/2 hours, broke for dinner, reconvened about 10 p.m. and continued until midnight.
The length of the talks led to some guarded optimism among observers that good dialogue was exchanged and some progress.
Both Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, the key negotiators, were at the hotel but not in the sessions.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said: "We'll be talking again [this] morning. We're going to have our board meeting at 11. Hopefully, be back at it after that, as well."
"It was a long day, but a constructive day in some ways, we had a good dialogue," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr (Donald's brother) said. "In some ways, it might be the best day we've had. I don't want to paint too rosy of a picture. There's still a lot of work to do."
The lockout has resulted in the scrapping of 422 regular-season games, plus the Winter Classic and All-Star weekend.
The Board of Governors meets in Manhattan Wednesday, and several options are possible: vote to continue the talks, authorize the canceling of more December games, and / or set a drop-dead date for canceling the season.
Tuesday's meetings, which began at 2 p.m. at the Westin Times Square Hotel, were suggested by Bettman last week after two days of discussions with federal mediators were not productive.
Discussions took place with the large group; other talks were conducted in smaller groups.
Before Tuesday, the sides were $182 million apart on honoring existing contracts while splitting hockey revenue 50-50.