Report: Small group meetings end, formal talks expected at 7 p.m. ET (Updated)

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If you’re still on board with following the twists and turns of the CBA talks every night, let’s hope you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to ditch caffeine.

The NHL and NHLPA concluded small group meetings around 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, making way for a full bargaining session around 7 p.m. ET tonight, according to TSN’s Aaron Ward.*

Update: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s reports that the talks have been slightly delayed, but there still expected to take place.

As expected, Ward reports that the NHL should provide its response to the NHLPA’s counter-proposal during tonight’s discussions. (Beyond calling it “comprehensive,” that is.)

The (alleged?) Jan. 11 deadline for any sort of deal is rapidly approaching.

That scenario would call for a Jan. 19 start date, but if the sides made more progress than many expect, then a Jan. 12 opening night could reportedly be possible. They’d need to get it together by Thursday for that to happen, though.

It’s anyone’s guess how much might be accomplished tonight, but we might at least get the idea of whether something big will happen this week. If not, all the fireworks would likely come in a week to 10 days.

* – There’s a slight chance it might kick off a little earlier; New York Newsday’s Steve Zipay gave it a 6:30-7 p.m. ET window to begin. Thirty minutes aren’t likely to make a difference unless someone storms out swiftly once again …