Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pitched the idea that owners and players meet face-to-face, mano y mano, without brass from the NHL and NHLPA in the room. The idea can be looked at as a desperation attempt to reach some sort of agreement to save the 2012-13 NHL season. Everything else hasn't worked (mediation failed last week, NHLPA offers have been outright shot down on routine basis and the unwavering, hard-line stance presented by the league has been a non-starter.
So Tuesday, a group of six owners and six NHL players will be put into a room. What goes on in the room is anyone's guess, and if a common ground can be found... Well, that's anyone's guess.
The major piece of news that has come from the report of the meeting event on Tuesday is who will be attending... At least, it's major news for Tampa Bay Lightning fans. Jeff Vinik himself will be one of the six owners in the room (along with owners from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames).
No word yet on player representatives that will be in the room. Bolts forward Martin St. Louis told the press late last week that he certainly wants to be part of things. We'll find out soon enough just who on the Players Association side will be at the table on Tuesday.
It should be noted that - up to this point - most Tampa Bay Lightning fans and players have not faulted Vinik for the lockout, though it would be easy to d so (guilt by association - the lockout was enacted with a 30-0 vote among owners).
Another Interesting note is who is not in negotiations, as New York Rangers / New York Knicks owner James Dolan offered his services to the league (he was part of NBA / NBAPA negotiations and a settlement last year that saved the National Basketball League season). Dolan is said to have a strained relationship with Gary Bettman, and perhaps that is why he was not brought to the table.
Besides his noted financial acumen, Jeff Vinik was introduced to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman almost 3 years ago to the day by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs at the 2010 NHL Winter Classic in Boston. It may have been respect and friendship with Jacobs that got Vinik a seat at the table