Following the Mediation Meetings the past two days which ended up being uneventful, due to the two sides being “too far apart” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested to NHLPA representative Don Fehr to allow the players to meet with owners without representation from either side. There is many rumors going around as to what the conditions to these meetings would be if the NHLPA decides to allow it, such as who would be involved and the conditions. Many players have felt that if this is something the NHL is willing to allow, than all owners should be invited to attend if they wish to do so.
Throughout the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, ownership representation has been narrowed down to Jeremy Jacobs (Boston bruins), Craig Liepold (Minnesota Wild), Ted Leonsis (Washington Capitals) and Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames). Players feel that if more owners are able to get involved instead of the limitations that have been implemented, negotiations may have a better chance of being worked out. Whether or not all ownership will be given the opportunity to attend has yet to be announced.
Another rumor going around is that the NHL wishes to hand select players that would attend the meeting, which may raise caution and make the NHLPA easily turn down the request. Also speculated to be attending the meetings would be a lawyer from each side, simply to monitor the outcomes of proceedings within closed doors. It’ also been said that if the NHL wishes to hand select which players will attend, in return the NHLPA should be allowed to select which owners are on the opposite side of the table during the talks. Which could help in spreading word of what’s going on with negotiations further than just the four that haven’t appeared to being the job.
Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders also brought up an interesting question upon hearing of Bettman’s proposal: “Is Bettman considered an owner, Since league owns Phoenix?” Seems like the NHLPA has a lot to think about and work out just to make a meeting like this possible and fair to both sides.