At an undisclosed location in Toronto, NHL and NHLPA leaders met for the third time in two weeks in a last-ditch effort to save the 2004-2005 season from cancellation. Talks concluded around 6:00 PM EST but the specific topics of the meeting were not released.
“The meeting has concluded for the day and we will meet again this week,” NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement. “We have no further comment at this time.”
The next meeting is rumored to be in New York on Thursday or Friday, although neither side would confirm or deny it.
In a statement of his own, NHL Players’ Association senior director Ted Saskin stated, “After meeting today we have agreed to continue discussions and will not be making any further comment at this time.”
Wednesday’s talks were initiated by the league, after two meetings last week requested by Players’ Association president Trevor Linden failed to yield results. Like the first two meetings, only a small group from each side was present on Wednesday.
At Linden’s request, he, Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge met with Daly, Calgary Flames part-owner Harley Hotchkiss and outside counsel Bob Batterman. In addition to the “Original Six,” Wednesday’s meeting included New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, whose presence was requested by the NHLPA.
The meeting came on the same day as Edmonton Oilers owner Cal Nichols announced that he would request the suspension of the Oilers’ franchise if the league resumed play without a salary cap.
“This isn’t sabre-rattling. It’s the truth,” Nichols said. “I have no desire to keep doing what I’m doing and I would recommend that we suspend the franchise and look at our options, or at moving it.”