September 12, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHLPA executive director Don Fehr during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Fehr Expresses Optimism As Underground Talks Resume

The NHL and NHLPA have resumed formal negotiations for the first time in nearly three weeks.  However, they`ve opted to operate meetings without media disclosure.

The two sides have decided to move forward in talks in an undisclosed location.  The talks continued until 10:15 p.m. and are expected to pick up again Wednesday.  The meeting details were kept from the media, but NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr did, however, agree to address the media just prior to the meeting on Tuesday.

“The players view has always been that we ought to keep negotiating until we find a way to get an agreement,” said Fehr. “You sort of stay at it day by day — so it’s very good to be getting back to the table. We hope that this time it produces more progress that we’ve seen in the past and we can figure out a way to make an agreement and to get the game back on the ice as soon as possible.”

The meeting that went into the late hours of Tuesday night, was mainly focused on contract disputes.  Little detail was offered to the press on the talks last night, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly offered a short statement, “not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion.”

New York played host to the meeting this time around.  Meeting in a secret location could help the process, though it doesn`t guarantee a deal.  Daniel Alfredsson was mentioned among 13 members of the NHLPA in attendance.  And unlike Fehr, he doesn`t sound too optimistic.

“I just feel that where we are at this stage that there’s still just a feeling out process,” said Alfredsson. “There hasn’t really been anything going on and until we get something substantial to work on I’m not too optimistic. I’m hoping this is going to happen now, but I’m not putting any hopes into it.”

This statement shouldn`t come as a surprise to hockey fans, as negotiations have carried a relative monotone since the summer.  In fact, Alfredsson suggests the league isn`t  showing any signs of desperation to save the season.

“I feel that so far it’s going according to the plan for the NHL and I don’t feel that they’re rushed to do anything,” he said.

However, even the pessimistic hockey fan can be grateful that negotiations have at least resumed after an unbearable 19 day hiatus.  TSN`s Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie have labelled this particular undisclosed meeting as “pivitol.“

The two sides are set to resume talks Wednesday, as desperation to save the season heats up.



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