Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is among the small group of players invited to be part of negotiations Tuesday in New York with six owners as the NHL and Players’ Association try something different in an attempt to end the 80-day lockout.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby has also been invited to attend. The NHLPA still hadn’t decided on which six specific players it wants in the meeting as of Monday night.
Both sides will meet without most of their NHL and union representatives in an attempt to continue talks towards reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
The owners that will take part in the meeting are Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins, Ronald Burkle of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets, Jeffery Vinik of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Murray Edwards of the Calgary Flames and Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Why Jacobs is involved is anyone’s guess. Thought to be the leader of the lockout, Jacobs is the hardest of the hard liners and commissioner Gary Bettman’s strongest ally.
Jacobs’ participation already has insiders speculating this approach also will fail.
Rangers owner James Dolan, so instrumental in helping end last year’s NBA lockout, wanted to be part of the session but was told no thanks.
It’s not known if Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz was considered.
The NHLPA requested that a staff member from each side be present for the meeting. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly will attend the meeting while the NHLPA is expected to be represented by No. 2 man Steve Fehr.
Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will not be involved.
Following the breakdown of talks between the two sides that involved federal mediators, Bettman proposed on Thursday that the leadership from both sides step aside for the next bargaining session, leaving a group of owners and players to try and break the stalemate.
“There will be owners attending this meeting who have not previously done so, which is encouraging and which we welcome,” Fehr said in a statement. “We hope this meeting will be constructive and will lead to a dialog that will help us reach an agreement.”
Jacobs, Edwards, Washington’s Ted Leonsis and Minnesota’s Craig Leipold are the only owners who previously have been permitted by Bettman to attend bargaining sessions that have been open to every player in the NHL.
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