NHL, union engage marathon talks; no deal yet

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NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL and the players’ association made progress during more than 15 hours of negotiations, but they likely will need more time to work out a deal to end the months-long lockout.

Talks were still going strong past 4 a.m. EST Sunday. There just didn’t appear to be an agreement in sight yet.

“Doubtful,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email when asked if the possibility existed for a new agreement in this extended round of talks.

It certainly wasn’t from a lack of trying.

After nearly 13 hours of meeting separately with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh on Friday, the sides again had talks with him Saturday morning. That laid the groundwork for the marathon negotiations that began around 1 p.m. and were coming close to the daylight hours in Manhattan.

The league and the union had stayed mostly apart the previous two days after talks turned sour.

Once Beckenbaugh convinced the fighting factions to resume face-to-face negotiations Saturday afternoon, they were able to make progress. While no one commented publicly on what was accomplished, it was reported that headway was being made on key issues such as the pension plan and salary cap limits.

This marked the longest bargaining session of this lockout and the second marathon meeting of the week. It also was the latest hour the sides were together.

The league and the union talked until 1 a.m. Thursday before negotiations hit a snag.

Bargaining proceeded at a slow pace on Saturday, and the sides also separated to hold internal caucuses. Beckenbaugh conducted meetings alone with the union and league before bringing them together.

Beckenbaugh walked back and forth several times Friday between the headquarters of each side _ beginning at 10 a.m. and wrapping things up shortly before 11 p.m.

While he never got the league and the union in the same room then, enough was accomplished to convince the sides to keep going.

Beckenbaugh began Saturday by holding a meeting with the union and then walked over to talk to the NHL office. He then made the trek back to the players’ association’s hotel for the group meeting.

The sides have less than a week to reach a new collective bargaining agreement to save what likely would be a 48-game hockey season.

Beckenbaugh also took part in talks during the 2004-05 lockout, which forced the cancellation of the whole season.

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