TORONTO -- NHL Players' Association boss Bob Goodenow has his membership back in lockstep.
Next up -- the agents.
Players emerged from their two-day session, which ended Tuesday at an airport hotel, defiant about their unity. Goodenow will next meet with the NHL's powerful agents, Nov. 17 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Sources say players were told at the meeting not to let their agents influence the process because they're not part of it -- and won't be -- when a new collective bargaining agreement is put in place. There could be a similar message to the agents themselves.
"I think it would be naive to think that out of this meeting we're going to push him one way or the other to do something that he already hasn't been looking at," veteran agent Rick Curran told Canadian Press yesterday from Philadelphia. "On the other hand, I think that he may find it an interesting exercise for himself to hear from us what our clients feel. Our clients may be more forthcoming with their thoughts through us than necessarily directly to him."
Talk is circulating that NHL player agents have been working behind the scenes to try to get the union to be more aggressive in its negotiations with the NHL. There have been no talks between the two sides since Sept. 9.
So far, the agents have been the silent minority. But they want to see the lines of communication between the two sides reopened, and that's part of the reason the likes of Ritch Winter, Don Meehan, Larry Kelly, Don Baizley, Allan Walsh, J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson have been summoned to Chicago.
"One of the other concerns of the union might be that the league may try to get to some of these agents and tell them to influence their clients into going back to work," said another agent. "I'm sure you've got some NHL owners who could be pretty influential in trying to get the players to listen to their agents."
It's believed the NHLPA has decided to hold another meeting in December, this time with more than 200 players, inviting more of the rank and file to Toronto to discuss the game plan.
THIS 'N' THAT: Senators D Zdeno Chara has been cleared to play and he'll make his return with Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League tonight. That means Chara will quit receiving the $4.5 million US salary he was entitled to while recovering from a thumb injury suffered while playing for Slovakia in the World Cup in September. D Wade Redden told the Sun he'll continue to skate in Ottawa because his shoulder is not completely healthy ... Senators C Todd White, the club's NHLPA rep, said he spoke with Binghamton D Brian Pothier about his remarks concerning the recent lockout. "I didn't hear the interview, but (Pothier) thought that some things were taken out of context. It was good to get his explanation on what he meant," said White. He and Redden will spend the next couple of days informing their teammates about what was discussed during the two-day session.