Perhaps all this "progress" in the NHL/NHLPA dispute is merely a convenient excuse to help out the ailing airline industry. After trips to Chicago and Toronto it's rumoured that the two sides will be making a trip to the Big Apple for further consultations.
The two sides which have done their best to be as secretive as possible regarding the latest get together Wednesday in Toronto, continue to keep their lips sealed as they plan one more session, maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday.
For the third meeting in a row, Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow were not on the guest list making observers wonder what it is exactly the two gentlemen do to earn their rather handsome reward. And whether either will survive once the smoke and the dust clears on the dispute.
Perhaps that is why New York is the next destination on the magical mystery negotiations (that aren't negotiations) tour. Maybe Gary will be given the chance to have a little face time with the media hordes staking out airline terminals and hotel lobbies (in Wednesday's case the wrong one!) in quest of rumour, innuendo or maybe even a fact or two.
Many say it's a good sign that the two sides are still talking, proof that there is a chance for hockey this year. Others claim the end is nigh, that this is just a face saving measure by both sides, both so deeply entrenched in their own positions that it seems impossible to believe that they can even agree on a hotel room to meet in. Everyone agrees that this dispute needs somebody to calmly stake out some kind of a solution.
Regardless, with another session planned before the weekend, the circus will pick up and move on again. For the press corps a reminder that frequent flier tickets can be redeemed at the courtesy counter, per diems and travel expenses to be paid upon completion of the assignment.
With the NHL keeping its cards close to its vest and a possible scenario of no hockey to start this coming September, a wise reporter would not be planning on cashing any cheques any time soon.