As the days count down to the expiration of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, the league's owners are watching their comments extremely carefully. The only tangible quote out there came from Rangers owner James Dolan this weekend, who told ESPN. “The only thing I can say is that I want us to play hockey.”
Sabres owner Terry Pegula fell in line during a press conference at the site of the emerging Harbor Center Monday. "I can't tell you anything, just that talks continue. I don't want to lose draft picks," Pegula said with a laugh.
Around the league, no executive seems to want to catch the commissioner's attention. "The league's doing all the talking about the collective bargaining agreement," Toronto Maple Leafs President Brian Burke told TSN. "Obviously, I've been in on a bunch of the meetings, but not the last week or so. And I'll let the league comment on it. I wish I could say more. I mean, you guys know me: 'no comment' is not something that comes out of these lips easily."
But with the CBA is set to expire on Saturday, fans are getting anxious. Pegula acknowledged that on Monday. "I don't know if there's going to be a (pause), if that situation's going to happen," he said. "Obviously we'll all want to see some hockey played. So, let's hope it doesn't happen and be positive on it."
Meanwhile, players have been eager to state the NHLPA's case to the public.
"Right now, the players are looking for a fair deal," Steve Ott said at the Sabres annual golf tournament. "We want to play. We want to be going September 21 (the scheduled start of training camp). Every single guy is ready to go. It would be a complete shame if the doors were locked by the ownership."