AMHERST – Finally, 81 days later, the NHL lockout may mercifully be nearing an end. Eighteen players, including Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, and six owners held a marathon day of collective bargaining meetings Tuesday in New York.
When the sides emerged, NHL Players’ Association special counsel Steve Fehr, flanked by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, said, “In some ways I’d say it might be the best day we’ve had, which isn’t too overly optimistic of a picture – there’s still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done.”
By most accounts, the talks – held without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr – created some genuine optimism, a rarity in the arduous process.
Now, the NHLPA is reportedly preparing a formal proposal for later today.
After skating inside the Northtown Center this morning, defenseman Jordan Leopold, the Sabres’ union representative, said he hadn’t “been briefed” on Tuesday’s happenings and he doesn’t “know where we sit on this.”
“The general consensus is there was some dialogue,” Leopold said. “Hopefully, it can move us forward, and that’s what you can hope for at this time. Yeah, (I’m) cautiously optimistic as always. I guess if the reports were true, that there was some good dialogue.”
He added: “You can look at it as a positive. The two sides have been pretty quiet as of late. (If) some kind of dialogue in a different format moves us to get a deal, great.”
Leopold compared “a rumor of good news” to “Christmas coming around the corner.”
“Kids get more excited as Christmas comes,” Leopold said. “Of course, we’re looking to get a deal and get back to playing soon. That’s what we do. (We) want to be able to give the fans our product.”