Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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NHL Lockout Update - Nothing imminent, but there may be hope
Posted Dec 6, 2012 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Dec 6, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Burning the midnight oil was not enough to thaw hockey’s deep freeze quite yet.
For the second consecutive day, representatives from the National Hockey League and the NHL Player’s Association held marathon meetings in the hopes of settling the now 82-day long lockout that has already canceled games through Dec. 14. After going to nearly midnight on Tuesday, the two sides went for nearly nine hours on Wednesday in meetings that carried over into early Thursday before wrapping up just before 1 a.m. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the two sides have been in discussions for almost 17 hours with more work to be done.
More talks are planned for Thursday, though they are not expected to resume until after 12 p.m. The NHLPA is expected to hold internal meetings that will start in the morning before getting back to the table.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik was among a group of six team owners that have been a part of the league’s representation which also includes owners from Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto, Boston and Pittsburgh but has not included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, which was by design.
The NHLPA, which has not had union chief Don Fehr in the negotiating room also by design, started the day with 19 players involved in the talks including Tampa Bay all-star Marty St. Louis and B.J. Crombeen.
Though progress has reportedly been made as the two sides try to hammer out an agreement in hopes of being able to play a shortened season, nothing appears imminent. In fact, there still remains a chance everything could blow up which could threaten to see the rest of the season lost. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune even reported that things nearly fell apart around 11 p.m. as tensions heated up.
As the meeting broke up, defenseman Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets addressed the assembled media at the Westin Times Square in New York and gave a brief statement without taking questions, stating, “We had a series of candid discussions tonight; we will meet again (Thursday)’’ as he walked away.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also addressed the media following Wednesday’s discussions without taking questions.
“We had good candid, dialogue. A lot of issues,’’ he said. “There continue to be some critical open issues between the two parties and we understand the union should be getting back to us tomorrow on some of those issues.’’
Earlier in the day, Lightning players said it was too early in the process to hang on to any sense of optimism that something would soon be worked out.
“Until there’s a deal there’s not a deal,’’ said Lightning winger Ryan Malone after a group of nine players concluded workouts at the Ice Sports Forum. “So until that happens we just keep carrying on as usual and see what happens. It’s not worth getting too excited about something you can’t control anymore.’’
Veteran defenseman Sami Salo said he learned long ago not to get caught up in any of the highs and lows involved during negotiations.
“I don’t have any high expectations as it’s been a roller coaster ride the whole lock out,’’ Salo said. “So I think players are preparing themselves and know not to expect too much out of these meetings until we really get something concrete.’’