When the player-owner meetings started on Tuesday, skepticism was quickly replaced by cautious optimism. The week still ended with disappointment, but perhaps months from now it will be seen as one of the key events that pushed the NHL and union towards a new CBA.
Even if that doesn’t prove to be the case, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux, superstar Sidney Crosby, and NHL agent Pat Brisson were key players in the recent attempt to save the season.
Brisson is a longtime friend of Lemieux and represents Crosby and has reportedly kept in contact with both of them.
“We have been talking for a long time about what we can do to get the league back. Mario, myself, we could not sit back and watch without trying something,” Brisson said. “The timing had to be on our side.”
That time was around Thanksgiving when Brisson reached out to Lemieux.
“We talked, and we agreed that maybe now we should try something,” Brisson said. “What was our choice, to sit back and watch the season die?”
So Lemieux reportedly got in touch with fellow Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle and from there the Penguins reached out to other owners. Burkle also contacted NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to inform him that he and other moderate owners wanted a seat at the negotiating table.
On the other end, Crosby was supportive of the notion of a player-owner meeting and was one of the NHL’s representatives when the talks took place.
During Tuesday’s CBA discussions, Crosby and Burkle were described as the “voices of reason” by the Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi.
Of course, it remains to be seen if we are truly closer to a deal. When the talks blew up on Thursday, Bettman said that the NHL’s recent compromises and the Make Whole proposal were off the table. The two sides also haven’t met since, although they have kept in touch.
On top of that, Crosby didn’t sound like a guy who had won anything after the talks. He recently discussed the possibility of him playing elsewhere because “this stuff is getting ridiculous.” Crosby also thinks that it will be hard to “get guys’ trust back after that.”