When the owners and players set their “rosters,” so to speak, for the players/owners-only meetings this week in New York, the group of owners set to attend was a rather interesting one. Ron Burkle (Penguins), Mark Chipman (Jets), Jeff Vinik (Lightning) and Murray Edwards (Flames) — all of whom figured to have a stronger interest to get back on the ice than some of the hardliners — joined Jeremy Jacobs of the Bruins (perceived as a real hardliner’s hardline) and Larry Tanenbaum of the Maple Leafs.
Of the group of owners present, Jacobs was perceived as the toughest negotiator of the bunch, and one who’s been a bit of a target for frustrated fans and players alike. Also the chairman of the board of governors, Jacobs is viewed as a bottom-line guy, while the newcomers on the owners’ side likely encouraged players who wanted more amicable negotiations.
Shawn Thornton, who works for Jacobs, was not among the players present for the meetings, but it wasn’t because he would feel uncomfortable in the negotiating room with his boss.
Thornton said Thursday that he “definitely thought about going to New York” for the negotiations, but said previous engagements with the Boston Pops (Wednesday) and Kevin Youkilis‘ “Youk’s Kids” foundation (Thursday) prevented him from going.
However, Thornton said that if the NHLPA decided it would be best to have a Bruin in the room with Jacobs, he would do it.
“Yeah,” he said. “It’s a business, right? It’s a negation. I don’t think they take it personally, or they shouldn’t. I don’t think the players should either. If I got a text saying that it would have been important for me to be there, or for someone on our team to be there, I definitely would have made the effort and would maybe not be [working with the Pops and and attending the ‘Youk’s Kids’ event]. But I talked to them about it and they feel like we had some pretty good representation there. If Sidney [Crobsy]’s there, I don’t think they need me.”
Eighteen players ended up attending the meetings: Crosby, Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, Ryan Miller, George Parros, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Jonathan Toews and Kevin Westgarth.