The only early details that emerged from the latest round of negotiations aimed at ending the NHL lockout were the names of those in attendance and that the sides took a break for dinner nearly six hours after they started talking Tuesday.
A group of six owners and 18 NHL players — many more than were originally expected — gathered at a Manhattan hotel and tried to find some common ground as the search for a deal that would save the hockey season continued. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr were at the hotel but stayed outside the meeting room.
Not much has worked up until Tuesday, the 80th day of the lockout, so the sides agreed to a different format to see if that would shake things up.
“I’m hoping we get to where we need to be,” Bettman said before talks got under way Tuesday afternoon.
The dialogue continued, sometimes in smaller groups, throughout the day until the sides separated for a dinner break. The owners left while the players stayed to have a meal inside the hotel. The owners were expected to return to the hotel later Tuesday night, but it wasn’t determined before they left whether they would reconvene with the union again.
Also, there was no assurance from either side that any of the participants would make any public statements Tuesday night.
As more and more days pass by, the possibility that the entire hockey season will be lost grows. A lockout forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season in February, and the belief is that the NHL won’t wait that long this time to call off this already-delayed and shortened campaign.
All games through Dec. 14, along with the New Year’s Dat Winter Classic and the All-Star game have been wiped off the schedule.
The NHL board of governors will meet in New York today, likely to discuss Tuesday’s developments and perhaps where to go from here if a deal isn’t reached soon.