No giving up just yet

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

With scant hope that last night's meeting between the National Hockey League and the Players Association would go anywhere positive, prominent people in the sport debated sticking a fork in the season.

"Logic dictates they try one more time, but logic hasn't prevailed so far," said Pat Brisson of IMG, agent for Anaheim Mighty Ducks' star Sergei Fedorov and teenage phenom Sidney Crosby. "The NHL has made it easy for the players to reject every proposal. But I think there's a way to settle this -- if they're willing."

League senior vice-president Bill Daly and union senior director Ted Saskin met most of the day at a hotel in Niagara Falls, Ont., breaking at 10:30 p.m. with no resolution, but not quite closing the door.

TOO EASY TO BE NEGATIVE

"I've said all along, until someone tells me it's over, it's not," New Jersey Devils CEO and general manager and CEO Lou Lamoriello told the Canadian Press.

"It's too easy to be negative. There's no question we have something scheduled at this point for (tomorrow when commissioner Gary Bettman is scheduled to make his announcement about cancelling the remainder of the season). It's looking very bleak right now but it's not over.

"To me, let's get rid of all these buzz words (salary cap, luxury tax) and get something done that works for everybody."

Yesterday's meeting involved talk of a salary cap without a link to league revenues , but even before word of the late get-together became known, Maple Leafs player rep Bryan McCabe said he was not afraid of the union cracking in an extended lockout that could stretch into 2005-06.

"We haven't had a pay cheque for almost a year now, but it's become a matter of principle," he said. "Having something such as a hard cap being rammed down our throats is not anyone's idea of fair negotiating."

Phoenix Coyotes defenceman Sean O'Donnell told Sun Media he isn't sure if a cap without a link would be accepted, but said there's no reason to accept anything the NHL has offered so far.

"I know that (Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk) said that we should hold a vote," O'Donnell said. "But what have the owners given us to vote on so far? There's no way we would accept any of the proposals they've given us at this point.

AWAITING WORD

"With the way (commissioner) Gary Bettman has run the league in the last (12 years), why would we accept a deal that is tied to revenues with his track record?"

At the Air Canada Centre, general manager Bob Hunter is awaiting the word from New York tomorrow before shutting off the cooling system and letting the ice melt. He has kept the surface intact under the Raptors' court all season in case there was a deal.

"If they pull the plug, I'll pull the plug," Hunter said.


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