Sounds of silence

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

It was so quiet yesterday you could hear a season drop. Sure, there were the usual rumblings making the rounds that NHL players and owners might get together again in the coming days in a final attempt to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.

But was it just the same old tired scuttlebutt? After all, discussions right now are at a standstill.

"From the calls I've made and people I've talked to, maybe there will be more talks in the near future," Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau said last night. "Nobody is really sure. All I know is things are really quiet right now."

And they will remain that way throughout various darkened NHL arenas as long as the league continues to push for cost certainty, an alleged stumbling block during the most recent talks on Thursday in New York.

"That is my interpretion of how the discussions went," Primeau said.

"The message we received from the (PA) was simple," said New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. "The owners refuse to back off their stance."

Should the league decide to table another proposal, the union's 730-plus membership could put it to a vote if it were recommended by the PA's negotiating commitee of Trevor Linden, Daniel Alfredsson, Bob Boughner, Arturs Irbe, Vincent Damphousse, Bill Guerin and Trent Klatt.

But Maple Leafs defenceman Ken Klee said there is no reason yet for players to look that far ahead.

"I don't think asking for a vote is appropriate now," Klee said. "I haven't yet seen anything on the table from the owners that changes their position or even gives me the opportunity to say: 'Yeah, I could live with that.'

"Until that happens, it's useless to think about a vote."

Having said that, Klee isn't yet giving up all hope.

"As long as they're still talking, it sheds some light on the process," he said. "Remember, they went a month leading up to this without doing anything.

"We've all negotiated contracts like this. There's still lots of speculation that something could transpire. As soon as the owners decide they want to try to move I think you'll see something happen in a hurry."

More than 300 NHLers are playing in Europe, although names such as Jarome Iginla, Kris Draper and Mark Recchi are among those who have refused overseas overtures.

Recchi, for one, has hockey withdrawl and wants to visit Wilkes-Barre, Pa., home of the Pittsburgh Penguins farm team.

"I just want to have the opportunity to see some hockey, first of all," Recchi, who signed with the Pens last summer, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And I want to meet some of the kids. I haven't met any of them.

"If the coach (Michel Therrien) wouldn't mind, I'd like to even go to practice a couple of days, just for the heck of it."


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