Blackhawks head to NYC for important NHLPA meetings

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More than 250 players will descend on New York on Wednesday and Thursday as the NHL Players’ Association gathers days before an inevitable lockout.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15 and commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would lock out players if a deal is not reached. With only informal talks taking place recently — formal discussions broke off on Aug. 31 — it’s apparent that deal is far from happening.

Blackhawks player representative Steve Montador told the Sun-Times that he, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Ray Emery will attend the meetings in New York. Duncan Keith also may join them.

“There might be a couple surprise acts there as well,” Montador said.

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby also is expected to be in attendance in addition to other notable players from across the league.

“It can be anybody; it really doesn’t matter,” Montador said. “Star power obviously carries weight, but everyone has an equal [interest] in the matter.”

Montador said players are ” as informed as we’ve ever been” regarding the mood of CBA negotiations and the proposals made from each side.

“Every time there is information being shared to me from a number of people in the [NHLPA] office, I’m passing it along to all of my teammates,” Montador said. “I think that’s one of the benefits that we have in the NHLPA that the folks at the board of governors and at the NHL don’t have.

“There has been over 70 players that have attended different meetings at different times. Any player can go at any time. I pass along all the information that I’ve been receiving and been witnessing firsthand on to my teammates.”

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