Windsor, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – Despite the ugly ending to latest negotiations between the NHL and the union, several players expressed optimism that the two sides will reach a new labor deal that will eventually end the lockout.
“I went through it in 2004. I understood it how far apart we were. I don’t have that feel that we’re far apart,” Chicago Blackhawks’ Jamal Mayers said. “I’m still an optimist. Hopefully, they come back to the table and realize it’s not worth it.”
Horcoff and Westgarth echoed Mayers’ statement, saying they the same positive evaluation regarding the state of negotiations.
“We made a lot of progress,” Westgarth said. “It’s pretty clear that we’re not that very far apart. It’s unfortunate that’s the reaction we got.”
However, Mayers still expressed frustration regarding the NHL’s reaction about the players’ proposal that wasn’t heard by team owners who were present during earlier negotiations.
“To be honest, it was never a take-it-or-leave-it offer they gave. I was in the room. That may have changed now; that wasn’t how it was presented,” Mayers said. “They pointed out those elements that were important to them. We came back and addressed every single one of them.”
Mayers was also disappointed with the statement of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, stating that the league was looking for a yes or no answer from the players.
“That wasn’t the message we received from inside the room,” Mayers said.
While there’s no scheduled date for further negotiations, the three got back on the ice and at the same time, raise money for charity in a fund-raising event in Windsor.
The game in Windsor, organized by Buffalo forward Steve Ott and Detroit forward Danny Cleary, was a benefit for Sparkles, a charity that assists children with cancer.
The players presented a $10,000 check before the game for the charity and proceeds from ticket sales will be added to that total, Cleary said.