News that NHL players will make another proposal to owners at a meeting in Toronto next week was met with
cautious optimism in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Both sides know some sort of negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement had to begin soon if
the 2004-05 season had any chance of being saved.
The two-and-a-half-month-old lockout has taken its emotional toll on both sides, so it would be hard to imagine
that anyone might view Thursday's announcement as anything but a positive development.
"You have to be encouraged," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "Any discussion is better than no discussion.
I haven't found out what's involved in our new proposal, and I'm not sure what the reaction will be of the owners.
"But it opens the door. It begins some form of communication. That's always important when you're looking
to find some resolution."
Primeau says he would like to get a copy of the union's new proposal but understands if NHL Players' Association
director Bob Goodenow decides to keep it private until he presents it to the owners.
"I'm going to inquire, but it may be that he's going to keep his hand close to the vest," Primeau said.
This is the first scheduled sitdown since the league imposed the lockout on Sept. 15. The NHL says it wants
a "cost certainty" system [players believe that's another term for salary cap], while the players have been proposing a luxury
Whether anything meaningful comes out of this initial get-together remains to be seen.
"At some point, someone needed to take a step forward," Primeau said. "They had to begin discussions if they
had any hope of salvaging the season."
"I'm cautiously optimistic," he added. "It excites me because it means we're going to slowly move forward,
but I want to see what the owners' reaction is. I know where their positioning is, and I don't know how much that will change
just because we come with this proposal."
Flyers team chairman Ed Snider said: "I'm glad the two sides are talking. The Philadelphia Flyers are one-hundred
percent behind the league office, and we're hoping they [the two sides] can find a solution."
No misuse of steroids
In light of the Jason Giambi steroid disclosure on Thursday, Primeau was asked if a mandatory drug testing
clause should be considered for the next NHL CBA.
Primeau said it shouldn't be necessary because players submitted to optional drug testing last year, and the
results were virtually clean for the 700 players.
"It [performance-enhancing substances] is not misused, and I know that for a fact," he said. "The testing
was just under one hundred percent. Out of 700, you could count [the violators] on one hand."