A day after federal mediators failed to make progress in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA in hopes of resolving the NHL's 77-day lockout, Penguins players expressed little surprise in the lack of success.
"It was getting them to talk," said left winger Matt Cooke. "That was a positive thing but nothing positive came out of it."
"I think from the beginning, everyone was hopeful and skeptical," said defenseman Ben Lovejoy (right). "I think some of the people in the room were doing it just to say were going through mediation just because it sounds good to the fans that care a lot."
Representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met with league and players associations officials Wednesday and Thursday. According to a statement from the NHL, "The presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time."
There are no negotiations planned as of now but the NHLPA has a conference call scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
In the aftermath of yesterday's mediation, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested a players-owners "only" meeting without the presence of league or players association hierarchy. That idea was met with mixed reaction by NHLPA members.
“Right now, I’m optimistic about anything. I’ll try anything," said Lovejoy. "I don’t see the message changing all that much just because the top two guys from each side won’t be there."
"The owners are incredibly smart businessmen who have made decisions like this and have been in meetings like this before. We are hockey players. Some of us are reasonably bright. But I can’t see it being a smart move for a bunch of NHL players to go head-to-head without our legal representation. “
A sticking point with players association members is the presence of a select group of owners in the negotiations, specifically Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, the chairman of the NHL's board of governors.
"It might be helpful if we can get some other owners in the room," said right winger Craig Adams, a member of the NHLPA negotiation committee. "If we’re not going to hear new opinions and things like that, I’m not sure what the point would be."
With no future talks currently scheduled, where does this procress go from here?
"Good question. I don’t know," Adams said. "Honestly, I have no idea."
(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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