All the spin-doctoring in the world might not be enough to heal the bitterness harboured by Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky these days.
But that didn't stop members of the NHLPA from at least trying to smooth over the public relations nightmare that stemmed from an ill-fated meeting between players and owners in New York 11 days ago.
Under the impression that the sides were close to a deal, the Great One and Magnificent One travelled to Manhattan only to discover the rift had, in fact, widened. Several days later Gretzky told a Toronto radio station that he was "embarrassed" by the so-called lost weekend.
Lemieux, meanwhile, told a Pittsburgh newspaper Sunday that he and Gretzky participated in talks to revive the season because they were of the belief that the NHLPA was going to present a new proposal.
NEVER WAS CASE
But that never was the case, union head Trevor Linden insisted yesterday.
"I did invite Mario and Wayne to be part of the process," Linden said. "I thought it would be helpful and I think it was helpful.
"If they got a different message from (the NHL) side, that's unfortunate. In this whole thing, there have been communication issues on both sides."
Linden called for the inclusion of Gretzky and Lemieux at future meetings. Gretzky is a managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes while Lemieux owns the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"They are two guys who would be extremely beneficial to the process moving forward," Linden said.
But how trusting will Lemieux and Gretzky be from here on in, especially after the previous invite blew up in their faces?
"I was disappointed too when things didn't work out with Wayne and Mario there," Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla said. "But I also believe Trevor when he says there was miscommunication.
"I was very excited about Wayne and Mario being involved. I have the utmost of respect for both of them. They were invited, and things just didn't work out."