After mediation ended yesterday, Gary Bettman suggested that there be a players-owners only meeting. No league or union staff would be present. But is this really a good idea?
The answer is yes and no. Throughout this whole lockout we've heard from and reports about only a few select owners that have been present at the negotiations. If this meeting is to happen all the owners need to be allowed to attend, not just the usual suspects (including Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.) There are owners who are considered to be more moderate and could be more likely to sway more towards the players.
"One of the criticisms of the NHL's approach has been that a small number of owners, like Boston's Jeremy Jacobs, have had the most influence and facetme with the players," ESPN.com's Craig Custance wrote. "When contrasted with the NHLPA's strategy that has allowed for any interested players to attend negotiating meetings, the strategy looks restrictive. It invited questions as to whether or not moderate owners truly had a voice in these negotiations."
The idea of having the players and owners meet without league or union representation has brought some excitement to fans and even some relief to some players. Jamal Mayers of the Chicago Blackhawks tweeted, "We've wanted to have more owners involved from the beginning is what I meant!"
But there is still a lot to be decided if the meeting is to take place. It is unclear if any owner who wants to attend can attend or if the NHL is going to restrict it to only a select few. If the NHL doesn't open it up to every owner, then it would appear to be just a waste of time. The players want to negotiate with more owners.
If this meeting does happen, don't expect the lockout to end right away. The players aren't lawyers or have advanced degrees like many of the owners. If anything, this meeting "will be about detoxifying the air," wrote ESPN.com's Scott Burnside.
"There is such a level of mistrust between the two sides – specifically as it relates to how the players view the owners and the owners' motivation – that this has the potential to be a real defining moment in the negotiations," Burnside wrote.
A lot of hope and anticipation surround this meeting, if it happens. If it does take place, we can only hope that it helps lead to the end of the lockout.
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