Staals encouraged by 'positive vibes' from talks

Staff writerDecember 5, 2012 

Eric Staal has plans to leave this week, taking his family to Thunder Bay, Ont.

The Canes captain would be happy to change those plans, of course. That could hinge on what's accomplished -- or not accomplished -- today in the CBA talks in New York and in the critical days to follow.

Staal was curious as to how productive the meeting of six owners and 18 players would be Tuesday. He said he was able to text with some of the players who were in the room.

"It's been up and down as we've gone on, but definitely positive vibes were coming out of it and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling and get back to playing," Staal said after skating at Raleigh Center Ice. "The main thing is there was some positive progress that you hope continues and gets us back on the ice.

"I don't know exactly what's going to happen but I'm hoping something good is going to happen. There has been a lot of bad that has gone on the last while, and yesterday finally both sides felt like there was something created.

"Some new energy, some new voices in the talks hopefully can spur a deal getting done, because it looks to me that it's right there and can get closed out, hopefully."

One of the new voices was Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, a multi-billionaire who has experience in resolving labor disputes and is considered one of the more moderate NHL owners. On the players' side was the Pens' Sidney Crosby, who has been a part of past negotiating sessions.

Jordan Staal, who helped the Pens win a Stanley Cup and was traded to the Canes in June, said he liked the thought of Burkle being involved for the first time.

"There are a lot of good people in that organization and lot of people who care about hockey," Jordan said. "For them to take a step and be more involved is great to see. I hope this traction will keep us moving forward.

"I was happy that new ownership came into the room and excited there was a lot of new players, as well. (Burkle) is a great guy and understands what's going on in the business world. And he truly does care about us playing and getting the league back on the ice. It's good to see him involved."

The NHL's board of governors met Wednesday morning. The groups of owners and players -- again without commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA boss Donald Fehr in the room -- were to have more CBA discussions Wednesday afternoon.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing," Bettman told reporters after the governors meeting.

Eric Staal was about to begin his second year with the Canes in 2004 when a CBA fight resulted in a canceled 2004-2005 season. For Jordan Staal, this is a first and, he said, a learning experience he didn't ask for or want.

"For one, it's to be patient," he said. "It's a long and frustrating at times process. As for my career, it's upsetting obviously missing games. It's part of it. The (NHLPA) needs to be strong and protect the future of the players, but I think every player wants to get going."

Regardless of what's done in New York, the full NHL season will not be played. There could be 50 to 60 games -- there has been speculation today about a 54-game schedule -- but a part of the season has been lost.

"It's been such a rollercoaster ride and you have to do your best to keep an even keel," Eric Staal said. "We're in December. I'm still disappointed in the way it's gone, from both sides, and where we're at now.

"But right now we're getting the ball rolling and hopefully we'll continue these talks and close out a deal."

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