PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby confirmed to Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE early Tuesday that he has arrived in New York and will take part in Tuesday’s unique labor meeting between six owners and a handful of players.
The meeting, which will not include NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman nor NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, is considered vital if an agreement is to be reached in time to save the NHL season.
Bettman made the proposal for such a meeting last week.
Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle will also be at the negotiating table, and Crosby made his respect for Burkle quite clear.
“Ron is a great owner,” Crosby said Tuesday morning. “He wants everything to be first class and he cares about everyone in the organization. He only wants what’s best for the team.”
Given that Burkle will be one of six owners on hand today, and it is believed he has wanted to become involved in negotiations for a while, indicates that Burkle believes having a season is what’s best for his team.
Crosby feels the same and will be joined by Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and a couple of other NHL players. He arrived in New York late Monday after spending the previous six days working out with players in Phoenix.
Crosby said he came down with a case of food poisoning last week while in Arizona but is fully recovered.
Many of the Penguins expressed a loyalty to Burkle and Mario Lemieux on Monday. Burkle’s presence at Tuesday’s meeting, it was widely agreed, is a positive development.
Unlike owners like Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs and Washington’s Ted Leonsis — Jacobs, in particular, has infuriated players by refusing to budge from his stance that the NHL should not budge from its stance in labor talks — Burkle is viewed as a moderate who is willing to listen to the players.
Crosby echoed those sentiments and should be comfortable dealing with Burkle Tuesday.
“He is committed to giving us a chance to win every year,” Crosby said.
If there is any winning this season, perhaps the relationship between Burkle and Crosby will be needed to produce success off the ice.
It might represent the only chance for an NHL season.
Burkle has always been a positive force for his players, including Crosby.
“As players,” Crosby said, “we all realize that and appreciate it.”
This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.