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Pens' Crosby all in with NHLPA

| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, 3:06 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune Review Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, shown here addressing the media at his locker at Consol Energy Center in April, publicly supported the National Hockey League Players' Association on Thursday in its labor dispute with the league. The NHL has said it will lock out players if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached before 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

There was more talking Thursday — most symbolically by Penguins center Sidney Crosby — about the NHL labor dispute, but a lockout deadline continues to loom.

The passing of that deadline, 11:59 p.m. Saturday, without a new collective bargaining agreement is all but assured given there were, as of Thursday night, no scheduled negotiations between the NHL and the players' union.

Training camps are supposed to open Sept. 21.

The deadline to play regular-season games on time — the season is scheduled to open Oct. 11 — may also pass without a new deal, Crosby said.

“Right now it's not looking great,” he said after a second day of union meetings in New York. “It almost feels like, you don't want to say it, this (lockout) was in the works anyway.”

Crosby was one of 283 NHLPA constituents at the meetings. Only he and union executive Don Fehr spoke from a podium at a news conference — a sign of Crosby's commitment to a union not always perceived as united.

Crosby echoed Fehr's comments regarding the labor dispute, which is focused primarily on revenue split between owners and players. The current CBA provides players with a 57 percent share. The NHL's third and current offer cuts that immediately to 49 percent.

Fehr said the union has the same option as the NHL to pull its offer once the lockout deadline passes. He did not rule out the union submitting a proposal that does not include a salary cap.

The NHL would balk at any proposal not including a cap.

The league has established a window until midnight Saturday for teams to waive players on non-entry-level contracts. There were 60 players placed on waivers as of Thursday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he received unanimous support for a lockout from club governors — either owners or appointees — at a meeting Thursday. Penguins CEO David Morehouse is the club's governor, though COO Travis Williams also traveled to New York to represent the franchise.

Bettman said he would meet “anytime at any place” to keep the NHL from missing games.

Penguins majority co-owner Mario Lemieux did not attend the governors meetings, though that is not unusual.

Lemieux and his family are close with Crosby, who July 1 signed a 12-year extension worth a guaranteed $104.4 million. Still, Crosby, who has played only 22 regular-season games since Jan. 5, 2011, said an extended lockout will not prevent him from playing hockey.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the reigning MVP, is set to play his first game for KHL club Magnitogorsk on Sunday.

“Would I look forward to the possibility of taking someone's job? No,” Crosby said. “But at the end of the day I'm a hockey player. I don't see anything wrong with that.”

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

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