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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chipman, Toews, Crosby to sit in on meeting

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IT'S no doubt a fresh approach but it's unknown if a direct dialogue between owners and players can open the door to a solution for the NHL lockout, which hits its 80th day today.

Six team owners, including Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets, will be in the meeting room today to converse directly with six members of the NHL Players Association.

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and Winnipeg native and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews are reported to be among the players chosen to sit in for the NHLPA.

Another of the six is likely to be Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey, a member of the players' negotiating committee and someone who has been in regular attendance at bargaining sessions.

Hainsey sidestepped the direct question of his attendance, as the players had yet to finalize their "roster" late Monday night, but he did welcome Chipman's involvement in a message to the Free Press earlier Monday.

"I am pleased that Mr. Chipman will be involved in tomorrow's meeting and I look forward to seeing him there," Hainsey said. "Hopefully, along with everyone else present, we can bring our two sides closer to an agreement."

The other NHL owners who will be in New York for that meeting are Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Tampa Bay's Jeff Vinik, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum, Calgary's Murray Edwards and Boston's Jeremy Jacobs. Edwards and Jacobs are members of the NHL's negotiating committee.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will not participate in the meeting, but staff and counsel from each side will be there, tamping down some of the hope that a direct, unfiltered session between owners and players could break the current impasse.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd, who's been very engaged in the issues and the process from the players' side, said Monday the different approach for today's meeting is well worth the attempt.

"I see it being helpful if we can get some new ears in there, maybe for fresh ideas in terms of what we can do to move the process along," Ladd said. "I think I've said all along that to move this forward, we're going to need both sides to negotiate, not just one.

"So with their stance of, 'We can't move at all and what more do you have for us?'... is it going to help that? If we can find new people with new ideas to help move the process forward, I think this could be a positive thing.

"If we get the same message, then it could be a short meeting."

 

Ladd said Monday he hopes Chipman will be free to speak today.

"It just depends on how much of a leash he has to ... help out," Ladd said. "Murray Edwards and Jeremy Jacobs, are two guys in there who have been spearheading this whole thing the whole way. I guess if they go into it on the same script and with the same stance, I don't know how much of a difference Mark would be able to make.

"But if they're willing to get new, fresh ideas, try to find a way to solve this, then I think Mark is a perfect guy for this. He always seems to be a guy who can find middle ground and get things done."

Wednesday, NHL governors will convene a regularly scheduled meeting in New York.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2012 D1

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