National Hockey League owners and players planned to meet again today after talking yesterday for about eight hours in what a union official said “might be the best day we’ve had.”
Six owners and 18 players met until midnight in New York, leaving NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr out of the negotiations.
“We thought it was a constructive day,” union special counsel Steve Fehr, the younger brother of Don Fehr, told reporters. “We had a good dialogue. In some ways I’d say it might be the best day we’ve had, which isn’t too overly optimistic of a picture.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also sounded cautiously optimistic.
“I appreciate the efforts of the players,” Daly said. “Everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so that’s encouraging. We look forward to hopefully making more progress tomorrow.”
The meeting came after two days with federal mediators last week yielded no progress toward reaching a new collective bargaining agreement and ending a player lockout in its 12th week.
The labor dispute has forced the cancellation of more than a third of the NHL’s regular season so far, including the outdoor Winter Classic, plus the All-Star Game.
The NHL owners attending the meeting, according to NHL.com, are Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins, Murray Edwards of the Calgary Flames, Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets, Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ron Burkle of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jeff Vinik of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The NHLPA said in a release on its website that the players included Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.