TORONTO Seventy-five NHL players met with union leaders Tuesday to get an update on a lockout that shows no sign of ending. Among those players was Montreal's Pierre Dagenais, who has said he would be willing to disobey the union and accept a salary cap if that would help settle the lockout.
Dagenais, one of a few players who have criticized the union's position, said he found the meeting informative but did not retract his comments.
''I think everyone knows what I said. I just came here to learn a little bit more. I did learn,'' the Canadiens forward said.
The meeting at an airport hotel was billed as a routine update on the labor dispute so player representatives could brief their teammates. But the meeting took on greater importance following recent comments by disgruntled union members Dagenais, Mike Commodore, Brian Pothier and Rob Ray.
San Jose Sharks forward Vincent Damphousse, a union vice president, invited Dagenais to the meeting. He said Dagenais is now on board.
''I'm very confident that all the guys are on board,'' Damphousse said.
The players met for about four hours Tuesday, after having dinner together on Monday night. The meeting included player representatives from all 30 clubs and other players who wanted to attend.
NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said there was no ''crack or divisiveness'' in the union. He said no new proposals would be made to the league as a result of the meeting. He's waiting for the league to make a new proposal.
''I'm hopeful that there will be a season, but I have to tell you, there's a good chance there won't be,'' Goodenow said.
Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, said no new proposal would be forthcoming from the league. He said the union's latest offer wasn't that different from a proposal they rejected 15 months prior.
''We certainly don't feel it's incumbent on us to offer anything new at this point,'' Daly said.
The NHL regular season was due to begin Oct. 13, but games are being canceled by teams on a 45-day rolling basis.
During the last negotiating session in Toronto on Sept. 9, the NHLPA proposed a luxury tax-based system that was rejected by the league. The NHL wants a system that guarantees ''cost certainty,'' which the players association says is akin to a salary cap a solution it refuses to accept.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Chris Pronger said he's waiting for the league to make the next proposal.
''We're still waiting for a response. I'll wait two years if they don't want to give a response,'' he said.
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