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Volume 24 No. 157

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NBA labor talks “concluded their most active period since the lockout began and entered a new, crucial phase Thursday: a week of meetings that are growing in size and importance that ultimately could determine the fate of the 2011-12 season,” according to Ken Berger of League and NBPA officials Thursday “emerged to announce they're calling their full bargaining committees” to N.Y. next week “to weigh in.” The full contingents from the owners' labor relations committee and the players' exec committee “will meet Tuesday morning, to be followed by a previously scheduled owners' meeting in Dallas and a meeting of players the same day in Las Vegas -- both on Sept. 15.” The progress “comes at a time when sources say the spirit of the negotiations has evolved to a place where both sides are focused on trying to reach a compromise rather than obsessing over leverage and bargaining victories.” The size of the negotiations will “evolve, with constituents on both sides needing to join the process for it to have a chance to move forward from here.” NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "We think it's getting to be an important time and it's a good idea to have larger group meetings. I don't really know that it's positive or negative. I just think it's time to bring the parties into the room who are ultimately going to be responsible for either making a deal or deciding that there shouldn't be a deal." Stern said that there was “nothing formal to present to the rest of the owners' labor committee.” Spurs Owner and Labor Relations Committee Chair Peter Holt was the only owner to attend the past three sessions. Stern said that the “escalation of talks is ‘more because of the calendar’ than a narrowing of the gap between the two sides” (, 9/8). Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said, "At some point, before you can try and make any attempt at any large progress, you have to involve all the respective members that are ultimately going to make the decisions, so we felt it was best to try to do that at this time and Tuesday we'll give (it) a shot" (AP, 9/8).

GLASS HALF FULL: In N.Y., Howard Beck writes, “By all accounts, the recent discussions have been constructive, respectful and productive.” Stern “called them intense” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9).’s Steve Aschburner wrote “any negotiating momentum next week will max out at two meetings, because both sides have prior commitments for Thursday.” The latest sessions "were narrowed to the minds and consciences that matter most." Now those 9-12 men “will be augmented by other key voices, the first step toward selling the deal to the players and owners overall.” Aschburner: “Getting more voices in the room means more attitudes, more opinions, more misdirection and more time lost to keep everyone on point. It's hard to envision the captains of industry who run the league's teams and, for that matter, the ‘brands’ and mini-conglomerates who play in the NBA -- and their agents -- not airing their views and derailing what otherwise might have been productive smaller sessions” (, 9/8).

After the plane crash in Russia on Wednesday that killed all but one player from the KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, "some player agents are musing that the KHL, which draws nearly a third of its rosters from foreign shores, will have a tough time attracting imports,” according to Sean Gordon of the GLOBE & MAIL. Massachusetts-based agent Matt Keator, who repped late Lokomotiv star and former NHLer Pavol Demitra, said, “I think people are going to be more cautious about signing over there, definitely. I know I’m going to be seeking a lot of assurances that teams are spending more money on player and transportation safety.” California-based agent Scott Norton, who represents several KHL players, said, “Obviously there will be some concerns, but like everything else, I think it will pass with time.” Daniel Corso, “one of the few dozen Canadians playing in the KHL,” said that he was “devastated by news of the crash, and that he is pondering whether to carry on playing.” The league still is scheduled to kick off its season next week, and KHL President Alexander Medvedev said on Thursday that “the league will shortly hold a dispersal draft to rebuild” Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/9). Former NHL G Manny Legace, who played in Russia during the ’04-05 NHL lockout, said, “It would have to be for a lot of money. ... You just hear a lot of stories about guys not getting paid (in Russia). You’re not sure about inspections and who they’re paying off” (DETROIT NEWS, 9/9).

SUMMER OF SADNESS: Three current or recently retired NHLers died earlier this summer, and in Toronto, Damien Cox wrote, "There is little else the world of hockey can hope for after an off-season filled with mourning and pain than to hope good comes from such a cumulative destruction. ... Such an extraordinary succession of body blows. Death and brain injuries. Whatever happened to the simpler days of torn knee ligaments and fall hold outs?” (TORONTO STAR, 9/8). Also in Toronto, Steve Simmons wrote, “This summer of hockey sorrow and devastation can’t end soon enough. ... There has never been an off-season like this one in the hockey world, with so much sadness” (TORONTO SUN, 9/8).