Penguins co-owner Burkle, Sidney Crosby expected at next NHL collective bargaining meeting

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Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle is an intensely private man, one who goes to great lengths to avoid attention.

That might be quite a challenge Tuesday, because Burkle is one of six NHL owners scheduled to participate in a collective bargaining agreement meeting in New York with a half-dozen members of the NHL Players' Association.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby also is expected to take part in that session.

Although neither of the lead negotiators, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, will participate, the No. 2 man from each side -- deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr -- is expected to sit in on the talks.

Aside from Crosby, the players who will be involved are not known, while ownership's other representatives will be Jeremy Jacobs (Boston), Jeffrey Vinik (Tampa Bay) Larry Tannenbaum (Toronto), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg) and Murray Edwards (Calgary).

Jacobs, a hard-liner who is chairman of the NHL Board of Governors, has been a frequent lightning rod for player anger and frustration. He, like Edwards, is on the owners' four-member negotiating committee.

"There will be owners attending this meeting who have not previously done so, which is encouraging and which we welcome," Donald Fehr said in a statement. "We hope that this meeting will be constructive and lead to a dialogue that will help us find a way to reach an agreement."

Craig Adams, the Penguins player representative, echoed that sentiment.

"It will be interesting to get some new owners in there and, hopefully, get some new perspectives," he said. "No stone, obviously, should be left unturned. If it can help, we'll try it."

This will be the first time Penguins ownership has had direct involvement in the negotiations, because neither Burkle -- a billionaire who resides in southern California and is regarded as an outstanding deal-maker -- nor Mario Lemieux is on the league's negotiating committee.

"I don't know [Burkle] very well, not as well as some other people, but obviously he's a fantastic businessman and a very sharp guy," Adams said.

"The interactions I've had with him have always been very positive and he treats us very, very well. My opinions of him are all positive."

Tuesday's get-together, which stems from a suggestion by Bettman, will be held a day before a previously scheduled Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan.

The NHL has been shut down by a lockout since mid-September. Games through Dec. 14 have been cancelled and if labor peace is reached in time to salvage a portion of the 2012-13 season, the schedule will have to be redrawn, presumably with a strong emphasis on intra-conference games.

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Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter: @MolinariPG.


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