NHL talks to resume in hopes of saving season

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005

NEW YORK — The NHL won't be bringing a new proposal to the next round of discussions with the players' association, even though time is clearly running out to save the hockey season.

''We're in a critical stage and that means we're down to days,'' NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly told The Associated Press from Toronto, the site of Wednesday's negotiating session. ''We'll try to move the process forward and try to get a resolution.''

Just like last week, when the sides met for two days in Chicago and Toronto, the discussions will continue in three-man groups and without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow. Both sides believe that having an open dialogue will help generate ideas better than working on a formal proposal.

''The players' association said that they felt like we should kind of work through possible joint solutions to this and at least hear what each other has to say,'' Daly said Tuesday night.

It was Vancouver center Trevor Linden who came up with the idea last week to talk with just six people in the room. Linden, the NHLPA president, invited Harley Hotchkiss — the chairman of the board of governors — to talk without Bettman and Goodenow.

''I think the meetings could be held just as well with Gary and Bob as they're being held without them,'' Daly said.

The structure was successful in generating ideas and discussion, but it did nothing to soften each side's stance or close the gap in the philosophical differences.

''The question is whether one or both sides can be creative in ways where both can achieve their objectives while remaining true to their principles,'' Daly said. ''I continue to hope that that is a realistic possibility. If I didn't, I don't think we'd be meeting.''

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