The NHL lost a season, 2004-05, to a work stoppage the previous time it had to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players' Association.
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, a team union representative, is optimistic things won't be as difficult this time. The CBA expires in September.
"We've had quite a few meetings the last two or three months, which almost the whole team attended," Orpik said Tuesday. "I know a lot of that hasn't been publicized.
"I think there's been more communication between the two sides than people are aware of. I think both sides are pretty optimistic something will get done. I think there's too much to lose after the last one we had to have another work stoppage."
Orpik said the meetings mostly were about familiarizing players with the ideas of new NHLPA director Donald Fehr and that "I'm sure we'll get a little more intense in the next couple months."
Veteran winger Steve Sullivan said he hopes "we can get something done very quickly and we can continue to play," but he believes the players were the ones who made a big sacrifice the previous time, which was when a salary cap was introduced to the NHL.
"We made a lot of concessions in ," Sullivan said. "I think they got everything they wanted -- a 24 percent roll-back [in salaries], a hard cap. I don't know what else they're going to ask for this time."
With the season over, the Penguins revealed several injuries.
Defenseman Paul Martin, who was hurt in the team's first-round playoff series against Philadelphia, has concussion symptoms.
Wingers James Neal (hand) and Sullivan (foot) and defensemen Kris Letang (hip) and Matt Niskanen (shoulder) were taking shots to be able to control pain and play.
Letang's hip injury is something that has bothered him for a while, and he said that while there's no indication that he will need surgery, he is still being evaluated.
For the second spring in a row, the injury will keep him from joining Team Canada for the IIHF world championships next month in Sweden and Finland. Letang said the hip was worse this season than before.
"It was a little bit of a struggle," he said.
On to worlds
Several other Penguins have been invited to the world championships.
Center Evgeni Malkin said he will play for Russia. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek is expected to play for the Czech Republic.
Four were asked by Canada.
Neal's hand injury likely will keep him from playing for Canada. Center Jordan Staal was invited by Team Canada, but he has not made a decision.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury declined because, he said, "I think they promised the first spot to [Carolina's] Cam Ward. I don't think I would have played."
And then there is center and captain Sidney Crosby, who turned down Team Canada but stressed that he has no concussion or related symptoms and no other injuries.
"The last year and a half, it has been tough to stay healthy, so I think the best thing to do is to give myself a full summer, get ready for next year and have a full season," said Crosby, who since Jan. 6, 2011 has played in 24 regular-season games plus the six-game series loss to Philadelphia in the playoffs because of concussion and neck problems.
Crosby, who scored in overtime against the United States to secure a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics, countered some criticism that immediately cropped up in Canada.
"Typically I'd be there in a second, but this isn't a normal situation, and this isn't me trying to hide from the world championships," he said. "I love playing for Team Canada. I don' think anyone can question that. Anyone who's questioning that right now, they obviously don't know me or they're not thinking right."
Forward Dustin Jeffrey became the Penguins' forgotten man, playing in just one game over March and April and even sitting in favor of seven defensemen at times in the playoffs.
Jeffrey said he is not slowed or hindered by March 2011 knee surgery, and is not seeking a trade to go to a team where he might play more.
"I love it here," he said. "I don't want to change. You want to be on a winning team. I don't want a fresh start [somewhere else]. Absolutely not."
First Published April 25, 2012 12:00 AM