Hopes are high, but de­tails few as own­ers, play­ers gather

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

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 Tues­day.

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 Tues­day, 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 be­gan Tues­day 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 Tues­day 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 Tues­day night.

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.

Orig­i­nally the thought was no one other than own­ers and play­ers would be in at­ten­dance for Tues­day’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).

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 at­tended.

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