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Steroids not front and center, yet

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About 110 members of the NHLPA convened here in Las Vegas for the first of two days of meetings. NHLPA team rep Brooks Laich was here, along with Karl Alzner, David Steckel, Eric Fehr and Jeff Schultz. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green were in Las Vegas for the awards show but did not attend the meeting today.

The drug policy is one of the hot-button issues in the NHL, and obviously that stems in part from the allegations made against the Washington Capitals. On Day One of the meetings, the drug policy wasn’t at the forefront.

“That’s kind of been an issue that’s been tabled for the moment. There are other issues as a union that are more pressing for us,” Laich said. “As far as the allegations toward our team, we haven’t seen anything else, and there has been no fruit from it, so we’ve kind of swept that under the rug and are moving forward.

“We did a quick slide on it and we’ve looked at it, but there are so many others that are facing our union right now that are immediate that have to be addressed within a week or two weeks.”

It is likely to be addressed in greater detail tomorrow. Gary Bettman is going to address the players, which is the first time an NHL commish has spoken to the players at their annual meeting, and he will likely bring up the subject.

NHLPA leader Paul Kelly said recently that the union would vote on being for or against a stronger testing policy — namely playoff testing, offseason testing and a more comprehensive list of substances — but a spokesman for the union said it is more likely to only be a discussion tomorrow instead of a vote.

“We have another round of meetings tomorrow, so maybe we will touch on it more then,” Laich said. “We will see what the guys have to say. There’s a lot of testing going on right now, and I don’t think anybody is fooling it – I think it is honest testing. I think we’re happy with the way it is right now, but if there is a way to make it better, we will look at it.”

Some of the other topics that were discussed include whether or not the union will ask for the five percent escalator in the salary cap — which could help keep the cap from going down this season — hits to the head, the size of the goalie equipment and the Phoenix/Hamilton situation.

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