Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players Association, held a conference call with the union membership to gauge the sentiment of the rank and file amid the controversy over the league's decision to allow team management to speak directly with the locked-out players.
The Toronto Globe and Mail said there was no immediate response to the union's request for a Wednesday meeting. There were no preconditions requested for the session, which would take place one day before the NHL's deadline for a settlement that would accommodate a full 82-game schedule.
But the newspaper said the league's decision to try a direct approach with the players could backfire. Labor experts said such things are just not done in labor negotiations.
"That's a big no-no," said Gilles LeVasseur of the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management. "The idea of a union is to deal with one voice."
George Smith of Queens University told the newspaper the move bordered on bad-faith negotiating. "If they have any interest in solving the dispute, one thing is clear -- Fehr has the credibility and the respect of players and the deal is going to have to be done through the players' association," he said.
The NHL lockout began Sept. 15. The deadlock has already wiped out training camp and exhibition games and pushed the start of the regular season to Nov. 1.