Long since dead and buried is any hockey fan holding their breath after every sign of optimism throughout the last 12 weeks of off-and-on negotiations. Cautious optimism isn’t a new development, but it’s up to you to determine if it has a different feel to it this time around. One of the Fehrs and Bill Daly standing side by side talking progress certainly is a first.

What Daly and Fehr said yesterday wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, but there they were standing beside each other sharing in one another’s semi-optimism. Daly thanked the sizeable group of negotiating players for putting in a hard day of productive negotiations, and Steve Fehr went as far as to say it might possibly have been their best day of them yet. At least, “in some ways.”

Anyways, the two sides do appear to be buckling down with this new approach to solving what seems to be a resolvable gap (in terms of the make-whole sticking point) with around 55 games left on the uncanceled portion of the schedule.

From Craig Custance:

Armed with the revenue and expense data that only the league and its teams have, economists say the league can project almost to the date when it becomes less beneficial to hold out for a better CBA and more beneficial to start playing hockey.

We may have finally reached that point. Hope, I think there’s reason to, but I’ll leave anything beyond that to Steve Burton.

Wednesday morning Leafs links..

Four Leafs on World Junior Preliminary Rosters
Tyler Biggs (USA), Garret Sparks (USA), Tom Nilsson (Sweden) and Morgan Rielly. Team USA has three goalies on the prelim roster and has to cut four bodies, so hopefully Sparks sticks.

The Colborne Conundrum
Gus Katsaros takes a really good in-depth look at the struggling Joe Colborne. Kats finishes off by asking: “Is it Joe Colborne the skilled player Burke and co envisioned? Or is it David Steckel adapting to a bottom six role.”

Even minus Murray, Canada’s defence looks powerful
A look at the strong Team Canada blueline that includes Morgan Rielly. The article include speculation of Rielly joining Dougie Hamilton in the top pairing. Because Leafs fans couldn’t just enjoy having one of the best D prospects in the game without hearing, “could’ve had Hamilton, too!”