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NHL and players' union to hold conference call Saturday to review latest contract offer

It’s an offer the league is hoping will be too good to be refused.

The NHL and its players’ union will hold a conference call Saturday to review the NHL’s latest contract offer, in a last-ditch attempt to salvage what is left of the season.

Hockey Central analyst John Shannon said this is the first sign of any progress being made between the two sides in a while.

“I think the fact that, it’s frustrating for both sides, when they do meet in person nothing seems to happen,” Shannon said.

“They’ve tried mediation, they’ve tried the secret meetings in Chicago, so why not stay with e-mail, at this point that seems to be the only way progress is being made.”

Face-to-face talks will likely be needed eventually however, and Shannon says this is a good first step.

“If that goes well, expect a meeting in person here in New York on Sunday, and then who knows what’s going to happen, it could break off, it could continue,” Shannon said.

Many consider this latest proposal a last chance to salvage any season, as the lockout has seen all regular season games cancelled through January 14.

A deal would need to be reached soon to get in a 48-game schedule, which is the minimum Commissioner Gary Bettman says must be played.

The sides have not met in person since a second round of talks with a federal mediator broke down December 13.

A source told the Canadian press a deal is contingent on the NHLPA signing off by January 11.

Training camps would then open the next day and the season would start on January 19.