Ryan Miller (center, rear) and Sidney Crosby were widely expected to be included in the players’ delegation Tuesday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
By Stu Hackel
With some second-guessing floating around and one strange report claiming the lockout was nearly over, the NHL owners and players met Tuesday in New York City — minus their lead negotiators — for what some believed was a last ditch effort to revive the CBA talks and save the season. On Wednesday, the Board of Governors convened and it was expected that it would set a doomsday timetable, establishing a date after which even an abbreviated schedule would not be played.
But, for the first time in these negotiations, Tuesday’s session yielded some signs of cautious optimism.
Following marathon talks on Tuesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated on Wednesday after the BOG meeting that he and the NHL owners were “pleased with the process” but declined to say anything further.
“We’re going to continue to talk up until we get a deal,” Maple Leafs governor Larry Tanenbaum, one of the six owners meeting with the group of players, told Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
In a very brief joint press conference following the seven-and-a-half hours of meetings on Tuesday (video), NHLPA general counsel Steve Fehr said, “I thought we had a constructive day. We had a good dialogue. In some ways I’d say it might be the best day we’ve had…There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done, but we will be back at in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.”
And NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly added, “I think everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so I think that’s encouraging. We look forward to making more progress tomorrow.”
We haven’t heard anything remotely like that since talks began in July.
The same group of owners and players were to reconvene Wednesday prior to the 11 AM Board meeting but postponed and now expect to continue some time after that meeting. How the Board as a whole will react to these talks, that are being conducted without either Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr, is an open question. The Chairman of the Board, Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs, was in the talks, but reports say others were responsible for what progress was made.