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NHL lockout: Mediated talks to resume Friday morning

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com


After meeting and exchanging proposals for three days in a row, the NHL and NHLPA worked through mediators on Thursday and will resume full-scale negotiations on Friday morning in New York City.

Following Wednesday's all-nighter, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected the sides would meet again starting Thursday morning but the NHLPA seemed to miss that memo. They held internal conversations for much of the morning and afternoon.

The semantics at play are rather interesting at the moment. It's being reported that the sides didn't meet Thursday but the NHLPA says they did off and on.

The NHLPA and the NHL resumed talks on Thursday, following Wednesday's bargaining meeting at the NHL offices which extended beyond midnight. Wednesday's meetings began in the afternoon, broke briefly in the early evening before picking up again for several hours later on in the evening.

Meetings between the two sides resumed Thursday in the early afternoon, once again at the NHL offices in New York, with the first session concluding just before 2:00 p.m. ET.

Semantics can be fun, can't they? It appears the discrepancy appears to be between "formal" talks and "informal" talks. There wasn't a full-on bargaining session with Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman and all the players and other principal figures.

It has been the style of mediated sessions for the mediator to shuttle back and forth between the two sides instead of having them together in the same room. That's likely where the difference in expressions comes from as to whether they actually had a meeting on Thursday or not. Regardless, they were in frequent communication.

The issue on the table was once again pensions, the newest hot-ticket item in these talks. According to the NHLPA, a small group of players and union staff met with some from the NHL to discuss that issue That was after the morning featured a return to a discussion of hockey-related revenue definitions.

If you're thinking to yourself "wait, didn't they already settle the HRR issues?" The answer is yes, they had. But the topic was revisited this morning not to decide how the split will be -- that's still believed to be at 50/50 -- but instead what penalties teams will face for hiding revenues. The NHLPA noticed that the wording had changed from what had already been settled and took the issue up with the league.

It reportedly didn't take long to settle and they were back to the way it was, but it didn't have the players happy according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun. It could turn out to be a big mistake -- whether intentional or not -- as it could cause more seeds of distrust fromt he players' side toward the owners.

One of the other outstanding issues that remains unsolved is what the salary cap will be set at in the second of the new CBA (assuming they have a season this year, there will need to be time for a transistion to a lower cap). The NHL remains firm on a $60 million cap while the players are at $65 million. Interestingly, though, it was reported Thursday that the players aren't seeking to raise the salary floor from the owners' $60 million cap (which would put the floor at $44 million).

That remains an unsolved issue.

In other words, it was more or less a day that went nowhere. Considering there is about a week until the presumed deadline for a deal to be reached and a season, there aren't many days left to waste when the divides remain. Still, even when things get bleak, just remember that there's a week to go and there's no way they will cancel the season. Right?!!

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

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