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HOCKEY NHL still trying to save year



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Small group negotiations may continue today.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NHL and the players' association were still talking Thursday.

With the season on the brink of being canceled, negotiations were planned Thursday night in New York with the chance of another get-together today.

The sides met Wednesday for 51/2 hours in Toronto, but there was no indication whether progress had been made to end the lockout and save the hockey season.

It marked the second straight week both sides met on consecutive days.

If enough progress was made Thursday, talks were expected to resume today.

The lockout reached its 134th day Thursday and has forced the cancellation of 721 of the 1,230 regular season games plus the All-Star game.

If an agreement isn't reached soon, the NHL will likely become the first North American sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.

Another offer

For the second time this week, rumors swirled that the NHL was prepared to make another proposal to the players' association.

Bill Daly, the league's chief legal officer, declined comment Thursday afternoon.

If a new offer is pushed across the table, it would be the first since mid-December when the union invited the league back to negotiations with a proposal that featured a 24 percent rollback of all existing contracts and a luxury-tax system.

The league countered five days later with a salary-cap structure, a concept the NHL is insisting on and one the players' association says it will never accept. The NHL wants a direct link between player salaries and league revenues.

Whatever happened Thursday night, it was expected that the same small groups of negotiators were talking. It would be the fourth straight negotiating session without commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow.

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 talks that started last Wednesday in Chicago and concluded the following day in Toronto. Hotchkiss missed the second meeting due to a funeral in Calgary.




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