NHLPA still discussing possibility of meeting players-owners meeting, Rangers owner Dolan wants to be part of that meeting, and more.

OTTAWA SUN/: Bruce Garrioch reports the NHL and NHLPA spoke Saturday regarding league commissioner Gary Bettman’s suggestion of an owners-players meeting without the respective brass of both sides, exchanging ideas on what the ground rules for such a meeting would be. A source told Garrioch the players would want input as to which owners would attend, but didn’t want the league to make requests of which players should attend. The PA would also prefer the meeting not be a negotiating session but rather an exchange of ideas as to how to end the lockout. Garrioch also believes the players would prefer NY Rangers owners James Dolan and Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson to attend, as they’re considered moderates among the league owners.

Rangers owner James Dolan hopes to meet with NHL players.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Dolan would also prefer to attend such a meeting, though it is unknown if he has officially volunteered his services to Bettman. The Rangers stand to lose around $60 million if this NHL season is cancelled due to the lockout. Brooks claims Dolan’s distant relationship with Bettman hasn’t limited the respect he has among the Board of Governors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a safe bet the players wouldn’t want Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Flames owner Murray Edwards or Wild owner Craig Leipold attending this meeting. The foursome have been part of the league’s negotiating committee and considered the hawks setting the league’s agenda in this lockout. That being said, I don’t believe it is fair for the players to demand which owners they want in attendance but not allow the league to pick the players they want to attend. If the players stick to that line, I doubt we’ll see this meeting come off. For that matter, I don’t hold out much hope such a meeting would change anything.

Unless either a majority of players vote to accept the league’s current offer, or there’s a very public palace coup among the NHL ownership which ousts Bettman and his hardline supporters, I don’t believe a player-owner meeting will accomplish anything. If this meeting does happen, I hope I’m proven wrong.  Bettman, however, needs only the support of eight members to continue the lockout, and if the players feel the hardliners are out to crush them, they could dig in their heels and go for decertification, which could be their next move if the upcoming NHL Board of Governors meeting forces their hand.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Veteran Lightning players aren’t holding team owner Jeff Vinik responsible for this lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vinik hasn’t been an NHL owner for long, and thus he wield little power or influence among his fellow owners. It’s also believed, as the report notes, he’s among the moderates.

TSN.CA: The executive board of the NHL Players’ Association authorized a $10,000 stipend to every player on Saturday as the lockout continues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players can no longer rely upon any more escrow cheques, as the last ones were issued in November.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is looking for ways to help businesses in and around Columbus directly affected by the NHL lockout, and hopes to work with local leaders to petition the NHL for a future All-Star game. The NHL cancelled the January 2013 All-Star Game, which was to be held in Columbus.

SPORTSNET.CA: Three sports marketing experts discuss the potential impact of the lockout upon the NHL.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: The increasingly high cost of playing hockey in Canada is making it more difficult for working class families to pay for their children to play the sport.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have serious long-term consequences for the sport’s ongoing success in Canada. If working class kids turn to more affordable sports, it will shrink the Canadian talent pool. It could also result in a decline in the sport’s long-term popularity among Canadians.