OTTAWA - Included on Chris Phillips’ agenda Friday — after the weakest turnout for a union brothers skate at Sensplex yet — was a haircut and a night at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival.
Of course, he would have preferred to be sipping champagne in Times Square — and the less talk about cuts the better — but he knows that won’t be coming any time soon.
Phillips, the Senators player rep, isn’t even sure whether he’ll have to make the trip to New York when and if the NHL and NHLPA finally settle their dispute. He just doesn’t expect that any deal signing is imminent.
“They’re moving in the right direction right now, but I don’t think we all should get too excited about a press conference announcing a deal that’s going to be done (Friday),” Phillips said shortly before noon. “There’s a lot of work to be done. Even behind closed doors, once they shake hands, I would assume there’s a lot of work to be done before we get started.”
Before hands shake, more compromises almost certainly have to be made. All the way around.
“We’re definitely willing to move, but it depends on what you’re talking about,” said Phillips, who was aware the ‘make whole’ proposal and “a host of other issues” were to be discussed Friday. “Both sides probably feel the same way. (They probabably feel) that they have things in the offers or proposals that they can possibly bend more on, in order to get other things, issues they feel are more important.
“It’s really difficult if both sides feel the same way about the same issues. It’s going to be a lot harder to get that deal done.”
Meanwhile, more and more of the general public is tuning out.
“As a fan myself, what’s frustrating is I guess (the) hype of everytime they get together,” said Phillips. “I guess that’s a big reason of why they’ve tried to do it quietly. It’s a big long agreement and it takes a lot of work to sort through everything, to come to an agreement. It’s not going to happen overnight. And we keep getting built up that they’re talking, so there’s going to be a deal tomorrow, and that’s just not the case.
“It’s hard for everybody that there’s not hockey right now.”