Avalanche forward Steve Downie and 22 other NHL players and their union executives are meeting with league owners and their representatives Tuesday in Toronto. The players are presenting an "alternative" proposal from what the owners believe the next collective-bargaining agreement should look like.

The current CBA, forged after the 2004 lockout eliminated the 2004-05 season, expires Sept. 15. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that the owners are not prepared to begin 2012-13 without a new deal, thus a lockout would be likely.

That would be a shame. American HockeyLeague has made strides in the past five years, stemming from the television deal with NBC Sports Network, which cross-promotes the NCAA and NHL. Let's hope the two sides agree on a new contract soon and the upcoming season starts on time.

Meanwhile, let's clarify a few things about the still-unsigned Ryan O'Reilly, the affable young Avalanche center who is seemingly destined to be the last member of the team to sign a contract for 2012-13.

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