The Lightning's Jeff Vinik has not participated in negotiations with the players association on a new collective bargaining agreement.
That changes Tuesday when he and five other owners meet in New York with a select group of locked-out players in an attempt to spark the stalled talks.
"I'm happy he's going," Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier said Sunday after the meeting was announced. "He's a guy who will listen and talk and have a conversation and see where things go."
So far things have gone poorly.
Games are canceled through Dec. 14, as are the Jan. 1 Winter Classic and Jan. 27 All-Star Game. Two days of mediation last week failed to break deadlocks about how to split $3.3 billion of revenue, team revenue sharing and player contract rules.
No formal negotiations are scheduled. So if the meeting, a day before the NHL's board of governors gets together, "can help out, then great," Lecavalier said. "At least we're trying to do something to get things going."
The meeting is not expected to be a negotiating session but an exchange of ideas. Commissioner Gary Bettman and players association executive director Donald Fehr will not participate, though deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr are expected to be in the room.
Boston's Jeremy Jacobs, considered the most hawkish owner, also will attend, along with Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Calgary's Murray Edwards, Winnipeg's Mark Chipman and Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum. Vinik, who was not available for comment, is believed to be a moderate who wants a season played.
The union has not announced its participants. Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen, part of the negotiating committee, said "a long list of players" wants to participate, including Tampa Bay star Marty St. Louis.
"We hope that this meeting will be constructive and lead to a dialog that will help us find a way to reach an agreement," Donald Fehr said in a statement.
Said Lecavalier: "A guy like Mr. Vinik who listens well, I think it's going to help the process."