SUN Hockey Pool

No agents of change

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

Don't expect tomorrow's meeting between NHLPA head Bob Goodenow and more than 100 player agents to be a lockout-ending affair.

None of the agents invited to attend to the Chicago get-together believes it'll be.

"Everyone is anxious for progress, the fans, the players and yes, of course, the agents," Calgary-based IMG agent J.P. Barry said.

"Nonetheless, it is the NHLPA and not the agents who negotiate the CBA.

"It is their mandate and they have been preparing for this negotiation for at least five years."

Agents are merely expected to get an update from Goodenow.

Calgary-based representative Art Breeze stressed player agents have been able to provide input and discuss the situation with the NHLPA executive director all along.

"From Day One, Bob Goodenow and the executive committee have been major proponents of information technology," Breeze said.

"The NHLPA operates in significant democratic fashion.

"We are constantly asked for our input, our input is respected and the feedback and dialogue is on an ongoing basis.

"Our responsibility as agents is to continue to stay on top of the situation to the best of our ability, to share with Bob and the executive committee and negotiating committee the feedback we have from our players to try to make sure the players' views are well known and ... shared."

The NHL and players' association haven't had any formal discussions since Sept. 9, almost a week before the lockout began. Almost 220 games have been cancelled.

Still, agents are warning fans not to expect them to be catalysts who spark a solution.

Both Breeze and Barry believe it'll take a change in philosophy from the NHL -- meaning an end to expecting a hard salary cap -- for a solution.

"I see nothing on the short, intermediate or long-term horizon to suggest that the unilateral, owner-imposed lockout will end shortly," said Breeze.

Added Barry: "At some point in time I hope the owners will realize that their commissioner's PR campaign and the non-negotiation strategy has been a useless exercise and that it only serves to further damage their own businesses and the assets that are the core of their businesses -- the players. It's time they focussed on seeking a compromise with the NHLPA and saving a season that is quickly slipping away."


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