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League, Union to continue negotiations Thursday

by Dan Rosen / Philadelphia Flyers

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association continued negotiations toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement into the early morning hours Thursday with the plan to reconvene at 10 a.m. ET, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

"There has been some progress, but we're still apart on a number of issues," Commissioner Bettman said. "But, as long as the process continues, I am hopeful."

The League and the Union held several meetings together with Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service during approximately four and a half hours of meetings, starting at 8:15 p.m. The sides met for a one-hour session earlier in the afternoon. The sides also held several internal meetings through the day into the early morning.

"The parties moved closer together on some issues but there is still a ways to go if an agreement can be reached, and we'll consider where we are in the morning and figure out what we do next," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said. "That's about all I can say about the process."

Commissioner Bettman did not want to discuss details of the negotiations because "I don't think that would be helpful." However, he did answer a question that specifically related to the pension plan issue that reportedly divides the two sides.

"The number of variables and the number of issues that have to be addressed by people that carry the title actuary or pension lawyer are pretty numerous and it's pretty easy to get off track," Commissioner Bettman said. "But, that's something we understand is important to the players and if we can get the issues resolved we're hopeful we can satisfy the players on that issue. But, that's still a work in progress."

Fehr characterized the outstanding issues dividing the two sides in this manner:

"You might expect the differences between us relate to the core-economic issues which don't involve the share [of hockey-related revenue]," he said.

Commissioner Bettman has previously said that a 2013 regular season at least 48 games in length would have to begin Jan. 19. The NHL has already cancelled games from the original 2012-13 season through Jan. 14.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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