'There's not a chance'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

TORONTO -- Do you believe in miracles? It's going to take one to save the NHL season.

While the NHL and the NHL Players Association have agreed to meet again in New York -- possibly today -- after a long bargaining session yesterday here, many players still believe it's going to take an act of God to get them back on the ice this season.

Sources say there was virtually no progress made during the bargaining session, which didn't include commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Bob Goodenow.

The two sides remain far apart.

Owners and players remain at odds over the issue of a salary cap and that's why no new offer was made by either side. Though sources say it wasn't raised at the table, the cap talk isn't going to just go away and that's why there's little hope.

"Miracles do happen and I hope we have one here, but I just don't think so," defenceman Jason York, an unrestricted free agent who played for Nashville last season, said last night. "I just think you have to look at the calendar. It's (nearly) February. Even if there is a season, what kind of season are you going to have? There's some teams that don't even have enough players to fill out a roster.

"There's a bunch of guys not even signed. One side of me says hopefully there's a season, but the realistic side says there's not a chance. I just think there are some owners who don't want to have a season. Look at a team like Boston, they've got 11 guys signed."

Trying to get a deal done, the two sides have moved underground by holding yesterday's meetings at an undisclosed location. They played cat and mouse with the media horde by moving through the city before the session. There was talk the meeting was at The Sutton Place hotel in downtown Toronto when a television crew followed NHL VP Bill Daly to the location. The media was later asked to leave the lobby by hotel staff.

Both sides have decided not to say anything publicly. Daly and union senior director Ted Saskin both issued statements after the meetings had concluded and neither was willing to make any further comments.

"I look at that as good news," said a league source, requesting anonymity. "We're at a critical point in these negotiations where you need something to happen one way or another and you don't need distractions.

"I would think they're not going to say much because they're trying to find a way to make a deal. You would hope they're looking at a way to find common ground. There's a deal to be made, but time is a huge factor."

There was one change to the roster, with New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello joining the talks at the request of the players. He has made the current system work and there's hope he can be a good influence on negotiations.

"Maybe a deadline will help push these two sides to get a deal done because nothing has in the past," said another league source.


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