tampabay.com

This week is 'crucial' to salvaging NHL season

By TOM JONES
Published February 1, 2005


Few, if anyone, thought the NHL season could be saved if the lockout reached Feb. 1. Well, today is Feb. 1, but a glimmer of hope remains that some form of a season can be salvaged.

While it seems this has been said for weeks, this week does appear to be the final chance to save the season.

No talks are officially scheduled, but Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal executive, said this week is "very crucial" and that he expected the sides to meet.

"Yes, I believe we will be meeting with the union again before the end of the week," Daly told Toronto's Globe and Mail . "As nothing is scheduled at this time, I don't know when or where, nor do I know who will be attending."

The sides met without commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow last week and the league continued to push a salary cap.

"I like to remain hopeful, but if the concepts we discussed with the NHLPA on Thursday night are not something that forms a basis for serious negotiations," Daly said, "I have to admit that I don't have much optimism that there will be hockey this year."

The Penguins' Mario Lemieux said last week there was a "50-50" chance to save the season. The Red Wings' Steve Yzerman said he doubted there would be hockey.

"We are hoping to hear back from the union soon," Daly told Canada's the Sports Network. "We feel that what we laid out ... could form the basis of a new agreement. But I'm not sure the union shares that view."

RED WINGS: Defensemen Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher are set to join the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League, Detroit teammate Kris Draper said. Draper also will join the first-year expansion team if he can arrange for insurance.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.