NHL owners, players meet late into the night again

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Bargaining stretched on Tuesday night until about midnight, and it was clear progress was made when deputy commissioner Bill 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 various sized groups.

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 issues surrounding how player contracts are set up. The league had more than $3 billion in the 2011-12 season but an analysis by Forbes magazine recently showed a major gap between profitable teams 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.

Originally the thought was no one other than owners and players would be in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting, but each side had staff present, as well. The six selected owners were Tanenbaum, Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh Penguins), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg Jets), Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning).

Jacobs, considered one of the hard-line owners, and Edwards are the only members of the group of six to have taken part in previous negotiations.

The NHL had no objection for more than six players to take part, so Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Shane Doan, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Miller, Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, George Parros and Kevin Westgarth joined the union’s negotiating team Tuesday.

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