The NHL Players Association will hold a meeting with representatives from each of the 30 teams today in Toronto, the first development of substance since the owners locked out the players on Sept. 15.
The purpose of the gathering is to update the membership on the status of the labor dispute, which is entering its seventh week, according to one player who requested anonymity. To date, 127 total games have been lost because of the lockout and players already have missed three paychecks.
Although the meeting was scheduled a month ago, the timing may be important to the union. In recent days, a handful of players, most of whom are young and earn less than the league average of $1.8 million, have made public comments contrary to the union's position. The players refuse to discuss a hard salary cap; the owners refuse to discuss anything but.
"I think it's great timing, a great chance for everyone to get together and confirm that we are on the same page. I believe that we are," veteran center Todd Marchant, player representative for the Columbus Blue Jackets, told the Canadian Press.
Today's gathering at a Toronto airport hotel is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and is expected to wrap up around 2 p.m. Expected to attend are members of the players' association executive committee, Executive Director Bob Goodenow, the player representatives and as many as 50 other players.
There have been no bargaining sessions between the sides since Sept. 9, and none are scheduled. If substantial talks do not begin soon, people on both sides expect the lockout to last all season.
On Nov. 17, player agents will meet with the players' association in Chicago to discuss lockout related issues, according to reports by several Canadian media outlets, which have indicated several of the sport's top players representatives, such as Don Meehan, J.P. Barry, Pat Brisson and Don Baizley, plan to attend.