Wings optimistic as lockout talks progress
NOV 07, 2012 2:36p ET
The NHL and NHL Players Association met Wednesday, the third time in the last five days the two sides have gotten together. These are the first negotiations since Oct. 18.
Several of the Red Wings who remain in the metro Detroit area were encouraged by the seven-plus hours of talks that took place Tuesday.
"My take on it so far is that they had obviously very long discussions, very long sessions yesterday, which I think is a good sign," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "I don't think there's a need for people to start talking about it too much just yet.
"It's important for those guys that are there to be able to do what they do and trust them."
Kronwall and forward Justin Abdelkader agreed that this week is a huge one.
"I think there's definitely optimism," Abdelkader said. "I think they for sure know that we need to get a deal done soon here to get things going, so we'll wait and see. I think today's a big day, today and (Thursday). I think we'll know more by the end of the week."
While it appears likely that the players will agree to come down to a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, a major sticking point is how already existing contracts will be honored. The league would like those deals to be paid largely from the players' share of revenue, which is not acceptable to the players.
It could come down to whether individual owners have to cover those costs or whether the league can take on some of those expenses.
Kronwall was pleased that the "make whole" issue appeared to be back in play as of the secret-location talks this past Saturday.
Once a deal is agreed upon (if there ever is one), it remains to be seen how many games would be able to be played. Quite a few players are over in Europe and would have to return.
The NBA managed a 66-game season last year after their lockout but NHL players would likely not welcome playing games three days in a row.
"I think you would definitely have to see a mock-up (schedule) and see how that would look," Kronwall said. "Any way you look at it, of course you're going to have to make up a lot of games. There are going to be obviously more games played each week and you also have an injury factor. You don't want guys going down and then all of a sudden hurting the product that you put on the ice."
Fans were very upset when the Winter Classic was officially canceled last Friday and the longer the lockout drags on, the more likely they will be willing to turn their backs on the NHL for good.
Abdelkader has run into some of the diehard Wings fans in town and he wants them to stay as diehards.
"They're just kind of anxious to get things started," Abdelkader said. "We don't want them to lose hope in the season. I think we still got their attention but we don't want this thing to keep going, drag it out. Our fans have been great, they're really passionate. We need to hopefully get something done soon."
Kronwall said the fact that the league is considering upholding existing player contracts and the length of the talks Tuesday gave him hope that perhaps they'll soon be skating at Joe Louis Arena instead of the Troy Sports Center.
"I've been very optimistic every time there's been new talks," Kronwall said. "So far they haven't really led anywhere in the previous talks but this time, it feels different.
"I think we should all try to stay as positive as we can and look forward here to see what's being said in New York over the next few days. Hopefully we'll get some really good news here in the near future."
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has joined the group of Wings skating in Troy.
That group includes Kronwall, Abdelkader, Danny Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves and Jimmy Howard.
Ericsson had been in Sweden playing for Vita Hasten, the team he played for when he was 18 years old.
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