Meetings between NHL owners and players on Tuesday produced optimism that an abbreviated season could be saved. A total of 18 current players attended the day’s meetings after being invited by the NHL Players Association. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was joined by fellow stars Jonathan Toews (TAYVZ) of the Blackhawks, Shane Doan of the Coyotes and David Backes (BACK-us) of the Blues in an effort to bridge the gap in the ongoing labor dispute. Backes is from Spring Lake Park and played college hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato. The two sides met at a hotel in New York for hours and reports indicate Crosby, along with Pens owner Ron Burkle led the way in trying to end the more than 80-day lockout. Crosby and Toews played prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr did not attend Tuesday’s meetings, but remain in New York while talks are ongoing. The Wild were to have played a game in Phoenix tonight.