In a transparent move seldom seen in negotiations, the NHL has published a proposal to save an 82-game season on the league website. The next move is up to the players. The owners have opened the door to compromise on both sides, opening the real possibility of NHL hockey starting in the near future.
In the league's proposal, hockey could begin as soon as November 2. Training camp would begin October 26. If such a whirlwind resolution comes to be, the 'Hawks will have to quickly re-form to get ready for what will be a physically trying 2012-13 campaign.
Viktor Stalberg, Bryan Bickell, Michal Rozsival and Michael Frolik will have to be brought back from Europe. The NHL prospects playing in Rockford will have to report to camp, joining the players working out on their own in Chicago or elsewhere.
We may even see a junior like Phillip Danault back in the fold, via an agreement last month that would allow junior players to participate in their NHL club's training camp. The same would go for a number of 'Hawks prospects who could skate with the stars and be returned to their junior teams.
Players like Garret Ross, who reported back to Saginaw (OHL), and Danault, who is in Victoriaville (QMJHL), could find a place in Rockford after the herd is thinned in the AHL. With several current IceHogs earmarked for Chicago if and when play resumes, several members of the Blackhawks organization could see their fortunes change.
There is no resolution of the issues that led to a lockout. However, the league has created the chance that serious negotiations can commence.
Allowing fans to see the NHL's intentions is in part a public relations move, but it also seems to be an important first step in reaching a new collective bargaining agreement without foregoing another full season.
We will all have to wait and see how serious the two sides are about getting back to work. If things break the right way, a lot of players may be making quick travel plans for Chicago.