Calling the National Hockey League "a patient on life support," Stan Kasten, former president of the Atlanta Thrashers, Braves and Hawks, gave his last-ditch suggestion to both the league and the players' association, hoping to help bring about a solution to the lockout.
Kasten, in a letter received at league offices on Wednesday, proposed that NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow address the NHL board of governors directly. In turn, Kasten said commissioner Gary Bettman should talk to the league's more than 700 players before the season is called off.
Thursday marks the 120th day of the lockout. Through Wednesday, a total of 613 regular-season games plus the 2005 All-Star Game were canceled.
"This last-ditch effort will surely be worth the trouble," wrote Kasten, who stepped down as Thrashers president in November 2003. "Nothing which happens after the cancellation of the season will be as good for the NHL as a resolution achieved collectively before such a cancellation."
Kasten also suggested that following each meeting, the two sides would vote whether to accept the proposal from the other side, or cancel the season. Although the votes will be anonymous, the tally would not be.
"While we are always willing to meet with the union to resume negotiations, we do not believe the process outlined by Stan would facilitate an agreement, especially at this late juncture," Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice president and chief legal officer, said in a statement.
Daly did say, however, that the NHL asked for the opportunity to address the players and the union declined the offer. He also said that if Goodenow wanted to address the board of governors, the league would provide him that platform.
"Stan's idea is of no interest to the NHLPA or the NHL," NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.