NHL GMs can only watch, hope

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Doom and gloom was not the prevailing sentiment among NHL general managers gathered at the world junior hockey championship, but there was an underlying sense of urgency as the window to end the lockout diminishes with each passing hour.

"It's already January so I don't think anybody can be in optimistic mode," New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury said. "But I don't think anybody has given up hope. We are hopeful that something can be done, but someone is going to have to come up with a master plan in a hurry. We had enough preparation so we should have seen this coming."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly arrived at the tournament here in Grand Forks, N.D., but neither addressed the media.

The NHL's board of governors is to meet Jan. 14 in New York, when it is expected a drop-dead date will be announced or decided upon. There also is the odd whisper that the board will announce the cancellation of the season that day. Anaheim Mighty Ducks player rep Steve Rucchin told the Los Angeles Times the NHL Players' Association will not make a last-minute proposal, and there may not be a new pitch from the owners, either.

If there is any chance for a resolution, it has to happen during the next couple of weeks. People have been talking of the fact there will be a major letdown for hockey fans with the conclusion of the world junior. For some NHL teams, it's much different, as scouting of the junior leagues and minor leagues will continue.

Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. said earlier in the tournament that Toronto plans to keep scouting as it normally would, and that's a plan Dallas Stars GM Doug Armstrong intends to follow as well.

"The future of our game is still going to be the young players, and when the new (bargaining agreement) is finalized we're going to need a book on the players," Armstrong said. "We'll just move ahead with our scouting staff and get ready for when we start again. I just hope we don't kill the golden goose."


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