NHL Owners, Players to Meet for Third Straight Day

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters after an NHL Board of Governors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in New York. The league and the players' association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks.
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If a breakthrough can be made soon, the delayed and shortened hockey season could get going quickly.

"I've always been hopeful there would be a season," said Lou Lamoriello, the New Jersey Devils president and general manager. "Right now we just have to leave it in the hands of the people that are talking."

The same negotiators participated in talks Wednesday, with minor tweaks to the large contingent of players.

Bargaining stretched on Tuesday night until about midnight, and it was clear progress was made when Daly stood side by side with union special counsel Steve Fehr and issued a rare joint status report. Negotiations took place in a pair of sessions that included groups of various sizes.

The sides are trying to avoid another lost season. The NHL became the first North American professional sports league to cancel a full year because of a labor dispute back in 2005. The deal reached then was in place until this September, and the lockout was enacted on Sept. 16 after that agreement expired.

The lockout reached its 81st day Wednesday. The main issues are how to split revenue and how player contracts are set up. The league had more than $3 billion in revenue in the 2011-12 season, but an analysis by Forbes magazine recently showed a major gap between profitable teams and those that operate in the red.

"We had a long day," Steve Fehr said Tuesday. "We thought it was a constructive day. We had a good dialogue. In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had, which isn't too overly optimistic of a picture. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done."

Daly echoed Fehr's comments, and spoke well of the talks.

"I appreciate the efforts of the players," Daly said. "Everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so that's encouraging. We look forward to hopefully making more progress."

That was the extent of the details revealed by the two sides, which could be another good sign that neither group wanted to say anything that could throw the discussions off the rails.

All games through Dec. 14, along with the New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game, have been wiped off the schedule.

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