Pens Owner Ron Burkle to be involved in NHL-NHLPA meeting

Bruce Bennett

Pens part-owner Ron Burkle, no slouch when it comes to dealing with unions, will be at the NHL's side of the table for upcoming meetings. Why this could be a good thing to get at least get talks headed in the right direction.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr won't participate in the session, but 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. The players who will be involved have not been identified. Ownership's other representatives will be Jeremy Jacobs (Boston), Jeffrey Vinik (Tampa Bay), Larry Tannenbaum (Toronto), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg) and Murray Edwards (Calgary).

This should be a postive development. I'm not saying we should expect the season to start tomorrow, but getting some fresh voices in the room should help, especially with so much acrimony between Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr and how either side feels about the other's top guy.

Burkle has been a fairly hand's off owner, his stake in the Penguins was purhchased largely to do a favor for Mario Lemieux, through a friend. Burkle, as we've touched on here, is a very wealthy man who likes to collect a lot of varied interests in all sorts of segments of the market; he started in the grocery business and has become a magnate in entertainment.

Ron Burkle has plenty of experience dealing with unions and several times has brokered deals in harsher environments. Being at the table should be a good thing, for a relative outsider to realize to protect his investment and get the games going again.

Also, this is a great quote from Burkle and hopefully the type of spirit he can help instill in the meetings:

"I always thought, Don’t be in a union business unless you’re committed to having the best relationship. You’ll live longer for less stress, and you’ll probably make more money."
No fans are holding their breath, and for good reason, but hey, we gotta start somewhere, right?
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