- Associated Press - Thursday, August 23, 2012

TORONTO (AP) - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the only way to make progress in ongoing labor talks is to solve the “fundamental economic issues.”

Bettman says the two sides remain far apart on those key financial elements after the bargaining session Thursday lasted less than 2 hours between the league and the NHL Players’ Association.

The union expanded on its proposal for rules governing player contracts.

Bettman says a small group session will be held Tuesday when he and deputy commissioner Bill Daly will sit down with players’ association executive director Donald Fehr and his brother Steve Fehr, the union’s No. 2 man.

The four executives also met Wednesday to discuss a way to move forward in the talks. After that meeting, an afternoon bargaining session was cancelled.

Fehr says he remains optimistic there is enough time if there is a “mutual will” to get a deal done before the collective agreement expires on Sept. 15.

The league has said if there is no deal by then, the players will be locked out.

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