ShareThis Page

Crosby: 'Last-minute' decision to attend NHL talks

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 1:28 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby works out at Southpointe in September 2012.
Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby works out at Southpointe in September 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

The sudden departure of franchise player Sidney Crosby — not the unexpected arrival of franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — caused a stir among the dozens of fans who attended Penguins players' practice at Southpointe on Tuesday.

Crosby and teammate Craig Adams, the club union rep, skated for less than an hour.

They hurriedly exited the facility just after 11 a.m. to catch a flight for New York, where the NHL and Players' Association gathered for a negotiating meeting.

“It was last minute,” Crosby said.

Neither Crosby nor Adams had planned to attend the New York meeting as of Monday, but a union conference call that night forced a change in plans, Crosby said.

Adams declined to provide details of that call, but teammate Pascal Dupuis said Tuesday that the ongoing labor dispute between the NHL and union was now mostly about the guaranteeing of current deals and structural issues, such as entry-level contracts and free agency.

Several Penguins players said they also believed the manner in which guaranteed contracts will be honored was the major barrier between the NHL and union.

That sentiment suggested owners and players had bridged the gap on a timetable for a 50/50 split of revenue on the next labor deal — though neither league nor union officials would confirm an agreement on that issue.

Union executive director Donald Fehr spoke before the meeting began around 3 p.m. Tuesday and said any proposal from the NHL to modify a previous offer to honor existing contracts with deferred payments would not “end the matter” of the labor dispute.

“There are still other things that are important, but it certainly would matter in and of itself,” he said.

The lockout of players will reach its 53rd day Wednesday.

Tuesday's meeting was sparked by lengthy face-to-face negotiations between deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr on Saturday.

Tuesday's meeting, held at an undisclosed location in New York, lasted more than seven hours and ended just before 11 p.m.

Daly declined to characterize the meeting but confirmed in an email that negotiations will resume Wednesday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was unlikely to publicly comment, league officials said.

The union reported 13 players attended the meeting, but Crosby's appearance was probably not insignificant. The face of the NHL has closely studied the labor situation and kept in constant contact with Donald Fehr.

Crosby had attended four previous meetings. At two of those, the union presented a proposal, and his other appearance came at a larger players meeting in New York two days before the lockout was enacted.

The NHL has canceled games through November, but there are plans to play at least 60 games if the season can begin during the first week of December. The NBA lost 16 games to a lockout last season but played 66 games when that league returned last Christmas.

Crosby, speaking Monday at Southpointe, said the NBA lockout model has been talked about among players.

“Everyone wants to compare, and whether you can read into that completely — I don't think you want to,” he said. “It does have some resemblance.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-380-5635.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.