Hockey talks set to resume

Posted: Wednesday, February 02, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL and the players' association will hold their next round of labor talks Wednesday in yet another undisclosed location.

Only Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, and outside counsel Bob Batterman were expected to represent the league, while NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin and attorney John McCambridge will take part for the players' association.

Trevor Linden, the players' association president, New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, and Harley Hotchkiss, the chairman of the NHL board of governors, are not expected to be part of Wednesday's meeting after sitting in last week.

For the fifth time in two weeks, the sides will meet without commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow.

Over the last few days, e-mails were traded and the latest negotiating session was arranged. It was not immediately clear whether the NHL would offer a new proposal when the sides get together. The league hadn't presented one as of Tuesday night.

Wednesday's meeting was not expected to be in New York, where the last meeting was held, according to a source close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It will, however, be the first face-to-face talks since last Thursday, when the sides wrapped up a two-day meeting that started in Toronto. The NHL brought up ideas during that session that didn't sit well with the players' association.

If this round of talks doesn't lead to serious negotiations, time will likely run out on the hockey season soon after.

The NHL is still committed to getting a deal that provides a link between league revenues and player costs. The players' association says that is an unacceptable salary cap.

''We were very clear on Thursday that we would not be negotiating over (Daly's) proposed concepts,'' Saskin said this week.

The philosophical differences that existed between the league and the players on Sept. 16 — the first day of the lockout — are still there 4 1/2 months later.

Linden, a Vancouver Canucks center, came up with the idea two weeks ago to hold meetings without Bettman and Goodenow. The hope was that it would spur open discussions and lead to a deal that would save the season from completely slipping away.

Through Tuesday, the 139th day of the lockout, 756 of the 1,230 regular-season games and this year's All-Star game had been lost.

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