Day 54 NHL Lockout: Third Straight Day of Talks to End Dispute?

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(Photo: Reuters/Patrick Doyle)The Pittsburgh Penguins' Maxime Talbot (L) tries to get the puck past Ottawa Senators' goaltender Craig Anderson (R) during the third period of their NHL hockey game at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, March 15, 2011.

It is day 54 of the NHL lockout and the players' association has returned to the negotiation table with the NHL for the third straight day in an effort to end the prolonged dispute.

As each day passes it is becoming increasingly critical that the two sides come to a compromise if the hockey season is to be saved.

Many will remember that just seven years ago the lockout forced the cancellation of the NHL season, and it is not unthinkable that it could happen again if neither side is willing to take a few steps towards the other.

Even if an agreement suddenly emerges it is unlikely that any games that have been canceled through Nov. 30 can be rescheduled in time. The NHL calendar is sure to be less than the full 82 games originally scheduled - already a disappointment for fans, who are the biggest losers in all this.

There is little information about how the talks have gone over the first two days this week, although what is for certain is that over the approximately 13 hours of negotiations in New York with the owners and players, no resolution has come out yet.

The lockout began on Sept. 16 after the collective bargaining agreement expired, and has already gone on for nearly two months, forcing the cancellation of more than 300 regular season games.

Regarding this week's talks NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement, "We do not intend to comment on the substance or subject matter."

In mid-October the league proposed an offer to end the lock-out. The player' association responded by making a number of proposal offers itself. Both sides rejected the other side's proposals to continue to deadlock, and ultimately led to a near three week standoff between the two sides where no face-to-face discussions took place.