'I see no hope whatsoever'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

CHICAGO -- There was no Chicago Hope yesterday.

If there was any thought that NHL agents might be able to help solve the NHL lockout, it was quickly crushed when agent Mark Gandler declared there won't be a season.

"I see no hope whatsoever," Gandler said yesterday following a five-hour meeting at the O'Hare Airport Westin with NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow.

"Where are the owners? They need to wake up," agent Ritch Winter told the Sun. "From what I've seen in the presentation from (Goodenow) and the executive, the framework is there and I predict the framework the union has presented will ultimately be the framework to get a deal done. I guarantee this will be what they sign.

"It's hard to believe these owners are willing to give up, a half, full or even (18 months) when there's a deal on the table that could get this done. I don't know what (commissioner) Gary (Bettman) has been telling the owners, but I think he's making a big mistake."

Sixty-two agents, including Ottawa's Rolly Hedges, Allan Walsh, Don Meehan, J.P. Barry, Pat Brisson, Steve Bartlett and Matt Keator, were on hand for the session, which included Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"There's no negotiations and there's no middle ground in these talks. All the owners want to negotiate is a salary cap," said Gandler. "That's not going to happen. The players have certainly tried to offer something that they feel can make a difference. I'm not going to sit here and try to tell (Goodenow) what to do. From what I've seen, they're trying to get a deal done, (but) they're not working with somebody who wants to negotiate."

During a question-and-answer session with Goodenow and the union executive yesterday, agent Ron Salcer asked why the NHLPA is resisting bringing in a mediator to see if the two sides can find a solution.

"I was satisfied from the response I got that (mediation) wouldn't work and I'm quite confident with the direction the union has taken in these negotiations," Salcer said.

"If the media or the fans were in that room (yesterday) to hear what we heard, they would be appalled at what has gone on so far. The players should have a deal right now. They have made major concessions to the owners, but so far it's falling on deaf ears."


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