Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warming Trend at Nhl Talks Both Sides Trying to Close Gaps

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warming Trend at Nhl Talks Both Sides Trying to Close Gaps

Article excerpt

The icy relationship between the National Hockey League owners and players might be thawing.

On the 48th day of the owners' lockout, management and players concluded two successive days of meetings in Boston with renewed optimism on both sides that the season might be saved.

Guy Carbonneau, the Blues' player representative, took part in the negotiations and returned to St. Louis on Friday afternoon filled with hope.

"The fact that we sat down for two days without (arguing with) each other and discussed the real problems of the league and where each side is at, that's a good sign," Carbonneau said. "I guess you can say that even though we didn't sign anything, or resolve anything today, it's probably the best session that we had in two months."

It was the first time the two sides had met on successive days since early October. They met for seven hours Thursday and 90 minutes Friday, and planned to meet again Monday.

"I'm glad to see that they met two days in a row, and I'm glad they're going to get right back at it on Monday," Blues President Jack Quinn said. "I think it's going well. . . . Maybe we'll have a happy Thanksgiving."

Lest we have a not-so-merry Christmas. League officials have said that a new collective bargaining agreement must be in place by mid-December to save the season.

On Tuesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would not play a season of fewer than 50 games per team. The league has canceled 24 games from its 84-game schedule.

"It's crunch time, pressure time for both sides," Carbonneau said. "We're not at the end yet, but both sides realize that the end is coming. We have to start to do something to get an agreement. . . . We're in a situation where no progress has been made in two months. If we want to play, something has to be done.

"We had two days of good talks. We're trying to close the gap between the parties."

Carbonneau was one of five players who joined Bob Goodenow, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, at the bargaining table. The others were Toronto's Mike Gartner and Ken Baumgartner, Dallas' Andy Moog and Washington's Kelly Miller.

Toronto general manager Cliff Fletcher, Boston GM Harry Sinden, New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello and Philadelphia's Bob Clarke joined Bettman on the owners' side. …

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