[NHL] Two sides to meet Saturday in New York

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Two sides to meet Saturday in New York

TSN.ca Staff


Representatives of both NHL owners and players have not given up hope of salvaging the NHL season and many are confident games will be played this spring. TSN has learned the two sides will meet in New York in another attempt to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

According to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, several NHL owners have been in contact with agents and players in hope of getting a deal done.

TSN has also learned that Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have been involved in the process to get the two sides together and NHL Vice President Bill Daly and NHLPA Senior Director Ted Saskin will be in attendance at Saturday's meeting. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow will also be involved, either directly or indirectly.

"We can't let this thing die when we're so close," said one team executive. "We've come this far, it would be insane to lose the season over a relatively small gap."

Negotiations broke off late Tuesday night after the players rejected the NHL's final offer of a 42.5-million dollar salary cap, while the owners rejected the NHLPA's proposal of a $49-million cap.

Hopes of a deal being reached even after Commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the season surfaced Thursday when Detroit Red Wings' captain Steve Yzerman suggested a deal could still be done by the weekend.

"I don't know if it's necessarily tonight, tomorrow morning, Friday night or Saturday. I know the season has been cancelled, but it's not too late to uncancel it," Yzerman told The Hockey News.

And while Wayne Gretzky denied reports that he had been working behind the scenes with Mario Lemieux to get a deal done, he said Thursday he hoped the season could still be saved.

"I did talk to Mario today," Gretzky told the Fan 590 radio station in Toronto on Thursday. "I had a brief conversation about pretty much what everyone else is talking about, can we believe we're in the situation we're in. Nobody understands why we're in this situation. Nobody has the answer to how we got here or how we're going to get out of here."

Bettman said at his news conference Wednesday the league would go no higher than $42.5 million and added that the owners' offer was now off the table.

But Bettman also left the door open for the NHLPA to accept the league's final offer, saying that if the players called and said they would take the $42.5-million cap, he "would have to look at it."

In the 1994-1995 labour dispute, a group of unhappy owners went behind Bettman's back and negotiated directly with the players, forcing Bettman to cut a deal.

That will be much more difficult this time around, as it would take three-quarters of the league's 30 teams to override the commissioner, meaning that he needs only eight votes to hold his position.

In answer to a question at his Wednesday press conference, NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said he would step aside if the membership wanted to go in a different direction. But Goodenow said he had not been asked to do so.


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Haha. Not deal yet. Let's poke a few more sticks into it and see if there's life...

Feb. 18, 2005. 09:19 PM

NHL, players to meet tomorrow

Gretzky, Lemieux to be involved in talks that may see the NHL season may be brought back to life after all



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haha, not anymore. no more NHL season.


have you even read this thread? they are having a (not so) secret meeting, and they are going to discuss this further! and the BAN may be LIFTED.

please read next time

Doh! :pinch:

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Feb. 20, 2005. 09:35 AM

Loyal fans get cross-check


We already knew, based on considerable evidence, that the NHL and its players' union were selfish, shortsighted, destructive and greedy.

After yesterday, you can also add downright mean.

That was, after all, one mean, nasty trick they jointly played on the hockey fans of North America, and the truly underhanded part was that it all happened just three days after both the league and union spent considerable time apologizing to those same fans for the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.

Yes, gosh, we're sincerely sorry, but on second thought, hope you don't mind a nice sharp kick with a steel-toed boot to the kneecap.

Or maybe some place a little higher.

When the two sides convened in New York to ostensibly revive the season, it was just like another obstruction crackdown. Lots of promise, lots of expectations, lots of disappointment in the end.

It was as though being in the city so nice they named it twice inspired the players' association and the NHL to do an unthinkable double.

Cancel the season, then re-cancel it just to make sure fans understand how much they are viewed with utter contempt.

Figuring out how yesterday's meeting went from being a session to save the season to just another waste of breath is going to be difficult, maybe impossible.

Both sides have their version. Half-truths have never been in short supply during this marathon dispute.

But quite frankly, the meeting should never have happened.

The guess from here is that it was a cynical, last-ditch sucker play by the union designed to put the league on the griddle, with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux having flown in to be part of the negotiation, and then to see if the NHL would cough up a better offer.

Instead, the NHL didn't offer anything, and the union didn't come armed with any new proposal of their own, much to the shock of both Nos. 66 and 99.

The meeting was supposed to be a secret and both Gretzky and Lemieux ? whose presence was requested by union president Trevor Linden ? were without question under the distinct impression the union was coming in with a $45 million (all figures U.S.) salary cap offer.

Instead, the union immediately released news of the meeting Friday night and did so in a way that made it appear the league was begging the players to come back to the table.

Then, the players arrived at the St. Regis Hotel yesterday empty-handed.

Fact is, the league almost certainly would have done a $45 million cap deal yesterday, and came armed with two former superstars and the intention to make it happen.

But the union had other ideas, and the entire effort went nowhere.

The result, and this is worrisome to the notion of getting next season started on time, may be that the day only served to further polarize the two sides.

Gretzky and Lemieux, counted among the most moderate owners, were left bewildered and angry at their former union, while Bob Goodenow in absentia may have been able to regain some control over his fractured organization by creating the impression for his charges that the league is wholly intransigent.

The only promising news might have been the presence of former NHL Players' Association president Mike Gartner, a moderate voice in a sea of extremism.

Gartner might be able to play a constructive role if ? and this is a gigantic if ? a way can be found to get a new collective bargaining agreement done in the next two to three months.

Still, the arrogance of the players appears to know no bounds as they continue to believe they're entitled to a higher salary cap than the NBA ($43 million) despite the fact the NBA's revenues are substantially higher.

At least the NHLers no longer have to worry about their 24 per cent rollback. They apparently found 100 per cent more to their liking.

The league, meanwhile, continues to leave unanswered the critical question of how it plans to organize and balance a system which is still likely to have a wide spread in individual team payrolls.

It has failed to articulate its game plan appropriately in this regard, and thus there is always lingering suspicion in many corners that the motives of the Bettman administration are not all honourable.

So, as of today, this lockout is 158 days old, and it appears certain that number will at least double before any NHL activity will resume.

They have spent months insulting each other, questioning the honesty and integrity of their opponents.

Yesterday, however, they dissed their fans, paying customers, sponsors and business partners in a more pointed, appalling manner than ever before.

This is marketing by Jose Canseco.

Maybe it was just a bad game of broken telephone that created a whopper of a misunderstanding.

But it really doesn't matter why it happened.

It really doesn't matter why hundreds of minor hockey rinks across the U.S. and Canada were buzzing yesterday morning with excited chatter that the NHL season might be saved only to have those hopes crushed in brutal fashion hours later.

The reasons don't matter.

It was just incredibly mean.


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