Kevin Bieksa has a better tennis serve than both Henrik and Daniel Sedin. That much the Vancouver Canucks defenceman is sure of.
When it comes to the seemingly encouraging developments in the NHL lockout and negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement over the last 24 hours, well, that’s another story.
“I don’t think we can jump too far ahead,” said Bieksa, with his skates, NHLPA jersey and tennis racket in hand following a skate at UBC Wednesday morning.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs throughout the course of the lockout. It’s encouraging, but you know I’m not going to go home and tape my stick.”
At the recommendation of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, owners and players – Canucks forward Manny Malhotra was one of the 18 players from the NHLPA side – met in New York for a marathon discussion that went well into the night Tuesday.
The two sides met again Wednesday after the NHL board of governors meeting.
Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr were not involved in the discussions Tuesday or Wednesday.
The vibe coming out of New York has been mostly positive, as the lockout hit Day 80, although it was tempered slightly as negotiations to reach a new CBA and save the NHL season continue.
“From what I heard yesterday, I think there was a lot of positive signs,” said Daniel Sedin.
“But until a deal is reached, you don’t want to get too high. Just listen to what they have to say and hopefully we can get something the next few days. But what I heard yesterday, it was a good sign.”
Citing “sources” Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press reported that the owners discussed the possibility of a 50-game schedule during their meeting.
“I think anytime you get a season in, doesn’t matter if it’s 40 games or 60, or 80, once the season starts you’re going to still fight for those playoff spots,” said Daniel Sedin.
“It’s going to be a fun year but until then it’s wait and see.”
Among the conversation with Canucks players Wednesday – there were a total of eight NHL players skating at UBC, seven from Vancouver club and free agent blue liner Jim Vandermeer – was the fact Fehr and Bettman were not in the room during these most recent negotiations.
“Sometimes that’s what it takes, to get the main guys that have been battling and butting heads for the last three months out of the way and let some other people speak up and hear some other opinions,” said Bieksa.
“Sometimes the message is received a lot better coming from somebody else and it seems like that was the case last night.”