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Labor Log: Perhaps 200 players to attend NHLPA meeting; but no Malkin, and status of Crosby not yet known.

Good afternoon, dear readers. A quick post today, with a possible anecdote from Josh Yohe to follow in another post. Let’s keep this CBA related, eh?

Certainly, the vibe I get is that there is a push from the NHLPA to get as many members as possible in New York next week for the union executive board meeting Wednesday and Thursday. Expect about 200 players to attend the meetings.

Penguins union rep Craig Adams told Josh today at an informal players workout that “many” of his teammates will attend those meetings. That group will exclude Evgeni Malkin, who informed me today via text message that he does not plan on returning to Pittsburgh until there is a new CBA in place because of his intention to play for KHL (hometown) club Magnitogorsk during any lockout.

As for Sidney Crosby and the NHLPA meeting next week, his agent Pat Brisson said Tuesday that he was not aware of Crosby’s plans. Certainly, any attempt by the NHLPA to show a sign of unity would benefit more from the attendance of Crosby, widely considered hockey’s best player and inarguably the North American face of the sport – especially with the guaranteed absence of Malkin, the reigning MVP and scoring champion.

More than simply a show of solidarity there is a functional reason for players to attend the NHLPA meeting next week. Though Adams said conference calls among union members have been common throughout this labor negotiation, the opportunity to get as many players in the same place at once should: A) leave less of a likelihood of misinterpretation of information by the most recent developments; and B) provide union executive director Don Fehr with a firm feel for just how together the players are on the issues that could lead to another lockout.

The NHL Board of Governors is expected to meet Thursday, and the expectation is that commissioner Gary Bettman will seek permission from his owners to lock out players if there is now new CBA by Sept. 15. That permission is a perceived formality, as the owners are backing Bettman’s pursuit of gaining not only a greater percentage of revenue share on a new CBA, but also a new definition of what constitutes hockey-related revenue.

It is most likely that Penguins CEO David Morehouse would represent the club at the BOG meetings. There is no indication of any division among owners.

There is no indication of division among players, for that matter.

There remains no indication that a new proposal, either from the NHL or its union, is forthcoming before Sept. 15, when the current CBA expires. Bettman has said players will be locked out if that deadline passes without a resolution to this dispute.

Training camps are set to open Sept. 21. The regular-season begins Oct. 11, as of now.

There is growing sentiment within the hockey world that both sides are expecting a work stoppage of months – the plural being intentional – before NHL action resumes, perhaps no sooner than December.



Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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