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Jets trying to stay positive about NHL/NHLPA negotiations

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WINNIPEG -- NHL players in Winnipeg didn't have any scoops or extra optimism after a weekend of talks between the league and the NHL Players Association in New York.

The sides met for three days but dealt with non-economic issues like drug testing and other legal matters, all of which will need to be part of a final deal, but none of which are going to be key to a new collective bargaining agreement.

The players have been locked out since Sept 15. All exhibition games were canceled. Regular-season games are scheduled to begin Oct. 11, which doesn't leave much time to forge a deal.

"We got information about what's going on but there's nothing really to report," Winnipeg Jets centre Olli Jokinen said this morning after working out at the MTS Iceplex with some of his teammates. "So no news.

"At least they're talking. That's the only positive thing. Last time (in 2004) it was different. We had a World Cup of Hockey at the time and we played a final and then the next day the CBA was expiring.

"Instead of me, playing for Team Finland against Canada, instead of flying to Florida we took the plane back to Europe. We knew the lockout was going to be for a long time, probably a year or even longer.

"This time, I think the whole summer we were more optimistic and we will still try to stay positive and hope for the best."

The number of players skating and working out here today was down to nine; Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Olli Jokinen, Eric Fehr, Ryan Reaves, Mark Stuart, Antti Miettinen and goalies James Reimer and Steve Christie.

Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen is still around town but wasn't on the ice. Attendance has dwindled at the workouts in some part because AHL players like Kevin Clark, Jason Gregoire, Darcy Zajac and Calvin Pickard have gone off to their own teams' training camps.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

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