Perhaps the children have finally left the room (that's you Gary Bettman and some would say Donald Fehr) and allowed the adults to make a deal? I'm not sure if we are on the verge of a deal as the language has changed a bit after long negotiations on Wednesday after much optimism came from the talks on Tuesday.

Might Thursday be the key day when talks progress or fail and break off and a season will be closer to being cancelled? Tuesday night at a press conference, both sides stood body to body expressing hope that a deal could be had shortly. Wednesday, neither side was full of smiles but hope still prevailed.

It seems both sides know now is the time to make a deal and if not soon, then no season is right around the corner. Both sides seemed to give in a bit on their position. Owners seemed somewhat willing to talk about the "make whole" provision that basically means players getting paid for current contracts that are negotiated in good faith and agreed to by the clubs and the players. Owners also seemed to move a bit on free agency in terms of how long before a player could become a free agent. Also length of contracts was a big issue and some movement was had on that as well.

Much buzz was heard Tuesday about a deal being at hand and perhaps a Christmas start up for a shortened season but at least one that couldn't be called a joke. Wednesday, much of that talk had cooled.

Now on the outside of the talks is commissioner Gary Bettman although he did utter this statement on Wednesday: "we are pleased with the process that is ongoing and out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say."

Larry Tanenbaum, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, said this about the negotiations: "we are going to continue to talk up until we have a deal. All I can say is as long as we continue to talk we are hopeful."

Under the "leadership" of Bettman the NHL has already cancelled one season, back in 2005. The game's revenues have grown over the last few years which leaves many like myself wonder why they need a lockout in the first place. As I have stated many times and continue to believe it has been Bettman and the owners that have gotten us to this place. However with Bettman and Fehr out of the room perhaps it is time that a deal can be had!

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