Seventy-four players idled by the National Hockey League lockout gathered for a routine update from their union leadership on Tuesday, including Montreal Canadiens winger Pierre Dagenais, who said he'd accept a salary cap if it would settle the labor impasse.
The meeting came after comments by Dagenais as well as defensemen Mike Commodore of the New Jersey Devils and Brian Pothier of the Ottawa Senators, and Senators winger Rob Ray that were critical of the union's bargaining stance.
Dagenais said he had learned from Tuesday's gathering, but stayed away from more controversy.
"I said what I said last week, but it was nice to come here and learn a lot about the issues," Dagenais told a phalanx of reporters at an airport hotel. "Now I know that the union is not trying to negotiate a deal for the high-end guys, but they are doing it for everyone."
Dagenais, who was wearing an NHLPA baseball cap, did not respond when asked three times by reporters if he would still accept a salary cap. He would only say he was happy to learn about the issues.
"Everyone respects Pierre for taking the time to come here and to educate himself and certainly I think he leaves here with a better understanding of what we're doing," said Canucks veteran Trevor Linden, president of the players' executive committee.
The league and union, which are at odds over club owners' demands for a salary cap and the players refusal to accept one, haven't held bargaining talks since Sept. 9 and there are no bargaining sessions planned for the near future.
"When you have 700 players, some guys won't stick with the group, but overall our core group is very much committed," Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore said upon leaving the meeting.
Canucks fringe player Nolan Baumgartner, a defenceman now playing for the minor-league Manitoba Moose said he would accept a salary cap to end the lockout.