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Mediators — not Crosby — to attend NHL labor meeting

| Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 8:02 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby works out at South Point Sept. 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Federal mediators will be present when NHL labor negotiations resume Wednesday.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won't be.

Crosby confirmed he won't attend the talks one week after playing a key role in days of negotiations in New York.

“I don't plan on being there,” he said. “It's good that they're talking. Hopefully, something good happens.”

Federal mediators will preside over these talks for the first time since Nov. 29, when two days of sessions with mediators broke down. Those bargaining sessions were in Woodbridge, though neither the NHL nor NHLPA would disclose the site for Wednesday's sessions.

The NHL and NHLPA last negotiated Dec. 5 in New York. A day later, talks broke down after a group of owners new to the discussions, including the Penguins' Ron Burkle, became frustrated by a slow union response. Spirited news conferences by NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman followed.

Neither Fehr nor Bettman were involved in owners/players meetings last week that Crosby said were “very productive” before the Thursday breakdown. Owners won't attend the mediated session Wednesday.

An unusually large number of Penguins took part in a workout Tuesday at Southpointe. Players such as James Neal, Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland arrived last week in Pittsburgh, perhaps a sign that players believe a deal is imminent.

“That would be nice,” Engelland said. “I think we are to the point where, if this thing is going to get settled, it's probably going to be in the next week or two. We know that, and we want to be ready.”

Crosby reiterated he will consider playing in Europe if there is no agreement this season. He will, however, be patient in the next round of negotiations, hoping it will be the last one.

“No one's mindset is any different,” Crosby said. “Hopefully, this is a good thing. Hopefully, we figure something out.”

Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Yohe can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com, and Rossi can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com.

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