Like we wrote yesterday, we were burned last time there was encouraging lockout news — back in December — but with time running out to save the season, it stands to reason that there's more of a sense of urgency to get a deal done this time. And so, having said that, here's some good news: The two sides negotiated deep into the night last night. Some other developments:
• The players union had a deadline of midnight last night to file a disclaimer of interest that would have dissolved the union, but it did not. Doing so would have allowed players to file antitrust suits against the owners, but as is, it appears that this won't be headed to court, at least for the time being.
• A federal mediator was present at yesterday's negotiations at the request of both the league and the union. Said Gary Bettman: "Can't hurt."
• The pivotal issue at the moment? Players pension plans.
• Meanwhile, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has details of what the season might look like if a settlement is reached soon. It would reportedly be a 48-game season in which each team plays seven games against division rivals, two games against the other ten teams in its conference, and no games against teams from the other conference. The season would begin January 19, with all 30 teams in action. According to Rossi, rivalry games (like Pittsburgh-Philadelphia) would dominate the season's first day. He also reports that the new schedule would preserve most of the arena dates already booked on the original schedule, though the opponents would change.
So anyway, we remain cautiously optimistic. Let's end this thing, if only for Darren Dreger's sake.