NHL, union stay apart much of Thursday
NEW YORK – Any momentum gained from a long night of negotiations between the NHL and the players’ association seemed to have been lost Thursday when the sides remained mostly apart. A meeting that Commissioner Gary Bettman said would begin at 10 a.m. EST didn’t start until several hours later, and then ended quickly. That one hour of talks centered on the reporting of hockey-related revenues by teams, and both sides signing off on the figures at the end of the fiscal year. The problem was resolved. The key issues that are still threatening the hockey season weren’t addressed then, but a small group of players and other union staff returned to the NHL office shortly before 6 p.m., to hold another meeting regarding the contentious pension plan. Union head Donald Fehr didn’t take part in either of the two sessions Thursday and it wasn’t known if a full bargaining meeting would take place Thursday night. The players’ association held a conference call at 5 p.m. to discuss starting another vote among union membership that would give the executive board the power to invoke a disclaimer of interest and dissolve the union. Members gave overwhelmingly approval last month, but the union declined to disclaim before a self-imposed deadline Wednesday night. It wasn’t immediately known when a new authorization would expire. Players are expected to have 48 hours to vote, as opposed to the five days they were given the first time. With the lockout in its 110th day, both sides understand the urgency to save a shortened season. They have several key issues to work out – pensions and salary cap limits, among them.
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