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NHL lockout: sides take 'baby steps' on secondary CBA issues

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

The NHL and NHLPA opened what will hopefully be three days of productive talks on Friday and, as expected, attempted to work on some of the secondary details that will go into a new CBA.

Former NHL player Mathieu Schneider, now an NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, said the two sides are "taking baby steps" after the discussions on Friday morning, and there was some common ground on smaller issues.

The hope, of course, is that if the two sides start agreeing on the smaller issues, that could eventually lead to bigger agreements.

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Hopefully.

"We like to say that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, but we've certainly made some headway," said Schneider on Friday. "A lot of it was done previous to this morning. We're taking notes on where we stand. I would say that we have a lot of mutual ground that we have found agreement on.

"In general, when you're dealing with collective bargaining, when you start to have agreements on smaller issues, it can lead to bigger issues, but it's still too early to say."

One of the topics that was discussed Friday was a stricter drug-testing policy that would carry over to the postseason and offseason.

"We're in agreement that it's not an issue in our sport," said Schneider. "I think it's in the players' best interest, as well as the sport, to close off any possible time during the year where players could use."

Any sort of progress at this point is a positive sign, but the two sides still haven't discussed the primary reason for the lockout: money, and how it will be split between the players and the owners.

It's possible the core financial issues could come up over the remainder of the weekend as more talks are scheduled through Sunday. But until those matters get settled, we're really no closer to seeing NHL hockey again.

And for those issues to get settled, they actually have to talk about them.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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