After hours of meetings between owners and players Tuesday produced cautious optimism, the players told the owners they would have something for them this morning before the board meeting, according to a source.
The sides did have brief contact this morning, but the players did not give the owners a proposal and the sides did not actually meet. The players told the owners they did not want to rush things. Commissioner Gary Bettman was upbeat as he left the Manhattan hotel for the board meeting at a law office nearby.
The owners have shown willingness to bend, but the players want to do their due diligence and don't want to make a mistake, according to the source. They feel there is still a lot of work to do. They want to continue the momentum, but they want to do it carefully.
Both sides should know how far the owners are willing to bend after the board meeting.
Bettman was scheduled to address the media after the board meeting, as he usually does. But league officials have said there is a very good chance he will not speak publicly, because he doesn't want to talk while negotiations are progressing.
Tuesday's meetings between players and owners were intended to be conversational and not formal bargaining sessions.
Specifics were discussed, even though they were not necessarily supposed to be, but both sides were tight-lipped about them -- a good sign.
Bettman and NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr were not in the room while six owners and 18 players talked, but they were in adjoining rooms and involved in caucuses.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were said to be influential, with owner Ron Burkle and captain Sidney Crosby sitting across the table from each other and pushing for a deal.
About 12:30 a.m., Burkle, co-owner Mario Lemieux and team president David Morehouse stood in the lobby of the hotel. They did a double take as legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight walked by.
A season on the brink?
Or are we on the brink of a settlement?