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NHL, NHLPA conclude three-day negotiating session

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association wrapped up three consecutive days of collective bargaining negotiating sessions at the League's offices Friday. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the sessions included "good, candid dialogue, and the process continues."

The League and the NHLPA agreed to reconvene for negotiating sessions next week at the PA's offices in Toronto. The goal is to have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place before the current agreement expires Sept. 15.

"There is a process that collective bargaining entails and we're moving through that process," Commissioner Bettman said. "I haven't put a stopwatch on it yet. There's obviously a lot of work to be done in a relatively short period of time, but I think we can work toward that goal and accomplish that goal."

The meeting Friday consisted of small-group sessions.

The League's negotiating committee included Commissioner Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Boston Bruins owner and Chairman of the Board Jeremy Jacobs, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, and legal counsel.

The NHLPA was represented by Executive Director Donald Fehr, Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, legal counsel, and four players: Scott Hartnell (Flyers), Manny Malhotra (Canucks), Kevin Westgarth (Kings) and Shane Doan (unrestricted free agent).

Fehr said the purpose of the meeting Friday was to continue to review information related to the items that have already been discussed, including aspects of the NHL's initial proposal, which were made last Friday in Toronto.

"We had a fairly good discussion, a frank discussion today," Fehr said.

Fehr said the PA is not yet ready to offer a counter proposal to the NHL's or a new proposal for the NHL to consider.

"We're having a lot of internal discussions, but when we get to the point where we are going to respond formally to the proposal they made by counter proposal or separate proposal, everybody will know," Fehr said. "We're not there."

Fehr said the PA has a number of agenda items up for discussion next week that will likely revolve around "non-core economic" items and said they may include alignment of the League, how the League's discipline system works, business issues, player safety, and travel issues.

"I hope with the issues we talk about we're able to make some progress," Fehr said. "Progress can consist of having the discussions and clearing out the underbrush. It could consist of making or withdrawing proposals on either side. It could consist of trying to focus on certain things. It's hard to say."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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