Thomas Vanek's time in Europe is up. Labor negotiations today in New York could determine whether the other Sabres playing overseas will also come back to Buffalo.

The NHL and its players' association are set to make a long-awaited return to the bargaining table. The sides haven't met formally since an hourlong meeting Oct. 18 that ended with each side furious at the other.

A light thaw in the lockout came Saturday when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met with Steve Fehr, special counsel to the NHLPA. The duo talked past midnight about several divisive issues and made enough progress that a larger group is convening in Manhattan.

There's no way a deal will be consummated today – the sides remain far apart on primary and secondary collective bargaining issues – but cordial, productive talks could bring hope that the NHL will return in December.