The pivotal issue in this lockout, which began after the previous CBA expired Sept. 15, is how "hockey-related revenues" are shared between the owners and players. Both have proposed plans that would lead to a 50-50 split, but the league wants that to happen immediately, while the players, who got 57 percent under the previous CBA, prefer to see it work down to that level over several years.
"Both sides have shown their willingness to get to 50-50, or close to it," Adams said. "The question is, 'How do you get there? How long does it take to get there?' And in getting there, how do you do your best to honor existing contracts?
"There are a lot of smart people on both sides. There are ways to do it. We just have to get to an agreement on how to do it."
The talks that begin today stem from traction created when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr had a series of face-to-face negotiations that began Saturday and spilled over into early Sunday morning. Precisely what tangible progress, if any, was accomplished in those sessions isn't known, but they clearly created some positive momentum and flickers of hope that it will be possible to find enough common ground to agree on a settlement eventually.
"I'm optimistic about it," Cooke said. "I don't know if there's (reason for) encouragement there, but I'm optimistic something will get done -- that eventually the owners will realize it's not worth it."
He was quick to add, however, that players have done most of the giving to this point in the negotiations.
"We've made concessions -- drastic concessions -- and they, up to this point, really haven't made any toward us," Cooke said.