Wayne Gretzky, the leading scorer in the history of the National Hockey League, said he expects NHL owners and players to reach a deal to end a lockout and resume playing by Jan. 1.
“I don’t see this lockout being as long as the last one,” said Gretzky, referring to the 2004-05 season that was canceled. “I think that ultimately here that both sides will sit down and get a deal done here so that hockey will be back playing.”
The NHL and its players’ union is taking a break from talks today after three straight days of negotiations failed to produce an agreement on a new labor contract.
Gretzky, speaking at an event in Toronto today sponsored by Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), said current negotiations won’t be as difficult as previous talks because some of the difficult issues have already been addressed. He was asked by reporters whether the lockout will end in time for the NHL Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“I believe in my heart, maybe because I’m such a big hockey fan, that they will be playing by Jan. 1,” said Gretzky, 51.
Gretzky, an 18-time All-Star, spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career in Edmonton before moving on to the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. After he retired he was a managing partner and coach for the Phoenix Coyotes.
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