From the day the NHL owners first locked out players on Sept. 15 Capitals center Mike Ribeiro has believed there would be a season beginning in December.
If Thursday’s secret talks involving NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and special counsel Steve Fehr produce significant progress, Ribeiro may be right.
"That’s why I didn’t go overseas," Ribeiro told CSNWashington.com on Thursday. "I believed we would have a lockout that would not last more than a month and a half and we would start a season at the start of December.
"These are smart businessmen and both parties are smart enough to not miss a full year. It looks like both sides have taken a step forward and I'm hoping we get a deal done soon."
[For a clairvoyant look at Ribeiro’s lockout prediction, check out this Sept. 24 interview with CSNWashington.com].
Ribeiro, 32, was acquired by the Capitals in a draft day trade that sent Cody Eakin and a second-round pick to the Dallas Stars. He and his family arrived in Washington in early September and he skated with about a dozen other Capitals until those numbers dwindled near the end of September.
Since then Ribeiro has been helping coach the hockey teams of his two sons, Mikael, 12, and Noah, 8, while skating on his own to stay in shape.
Ribeiro says he has not participated in any of the NHLPA conference calls but he has kept tabs on the negotiations and is preparing himself for a Dec. 1 start to the season.
"I have no idea when they'll settle," he said. "But I hope and I believe that by Dec. 1 we'll have a season going."
The big issue on the table today is the "make whole" provision introduced by the owners in their Oct. 16 proposal. The players are demanding that their current contracts be honored in full and that any deferred payments are not counted against their share of league revenues.
If the owners agree to pay all contracts in full the players likely would make other concessions, such as dropping their share of revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent, along with some restrictions on arbitration rights, free agency and length of contracts.