NHL Talks Resume
New York — The only early details that emerged from the latest round of negotiations aimed at ending the NHL lockout were the names of those in attendance and that the sides took a break for dinner nearly six hours after they started talking yesterday.
A group of six owners and 18 NHL players — many more than were originally expected — gathered at a Manhattan hotel and tried to find some common ground as the search for a deal that would save the hockey season continued. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr were at the hotel, but stayed outside the meeting room.
Not much has worked up until yesterday, the 80th day of the lockout, so the sides agreed to a different format to see if that would shake things up.
“I’m hoping we get to where we need to be,” Bettman said before talks got under way yesterday afternoon.
The dialogue continued, sometimes in smaller groups, throughout the day until the sides separated for a dinner break. The owners left while the players stayed to have a meal inside the hotel. The owners were expected to return to the hotel later last night, but it wasn’t determined before they left whether they would reconvene with the union again.
Also, there was no assurance from either side that any of the participants would make any public statements last night.
As more and more days pass by, the possibility that the entire hockey season will be lost grows. A lockout forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season in February, and the belief is that the NHL won’t wait that long this time to call off this already-delayed and shortened campaign.
All games through Dec. 14, along with the New Year’s Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game have been wiped off the schedule.
The NHL board of governors will meet in New York today, likely to discuss yesterday’s developments and perhaps where to go from here if a deal isn’t reached soon. More game cancellations could be announced then, and an internal deadline for eliminating the season could also be established.
Originally the thought was no one other than owners and players would be in attendance for yesterday’s meeting, but each side had staff present, as well. The six selected owners were Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh Penguins), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg Jets), Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Jacobs, considered one of the hard-line owners, and Edwards are the only members of the group of six to have taken part in previous negotiations.
The NHL had no objection for more than six players to take part, so Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Shane Doan, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Miller, Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, George Parros and Kevin Westgarth took part.