http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050602.wduhacol2/BNStory/Sports/ Q: So you don't expect to see commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL executive director Bob Goodenow sitting together, with fake smiles pasted on their faces, announcing a new deal by, say Friday? A: No, and for this reason alone: The last time that charismatic pair came to terms on a CBA - for history buffs, that came in January of 1995 - the two sides essentially did a back-of-the-envelop deal. In an effort to salvage the final 48 games of an 82-game schedule, the owners and players agreed to a new deal only in the broadest terms. It was left to a handful of lawyers for both sides to draft an actual CBA - and it took them nine months to do so, mostly because the language on the back of that envelop was ambiguous on a number of issues. Ultimately, the NHL believed that the language of the last CBA on these poorly defined issues turned out much to favorable to the players' side. Q: Meaning what exactly? A: Meaning that the new agreement wasn't nearly as effective as the owners thought it would be. Salary escalation continued, virtually unabated, to the point where the average NHL player earned $1.8 million in the final year of the last CBA - an increase of well over 300 per cent. Accordingly, the league vowed that this time around, there would be no deal - and no announcement of a deal - until they could actually wave a thick document in front of reporters at a press conference. Sources indicate that they're not there yet - and until they get to that point, everyone will have to endure reports, some accurate, some wild guesses, as to when that day may come.