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NHL, NHLPA discuss player benefits in latest session

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association wrapped up three consecutive days of collective bargaining negotiating sessions at the PA's offices Thursday and plan to reconvene Monday at the League's Manhattan offices.

The current CBA is set to expire Sept. 15.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the discussions Thursday focused on three areas.

"The Players' Association made a couple of presentations, one on player pensions and the other on player health care and insurance," Commissioner Bettman said. "Then there was a pretty good discussion on playing conditions in a smaller group, having to do with things like training camp and ice conditions."

Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, said the Players' Association was seeking to update player retirement issues, including pensions.

"Some of the issues haven't been addressed since '94 or the late '90s," Schneider said. "It's a process. There's an awful lot of stuff in that 600-page book and we're trying to get through all the issues."

Schneider, who spoke in place of Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, said the discussion on training camps covered a wide variety of topics. The length of training camp, testing players must undergo in camp, the number of veterans that are required to play in preseason games, and the number of preseason games were all presented as topics.

"They are all areas for discussion and I think there are a lot of these issues we have the same common goal, and it's coming to agreement in how we get to that goal," Schneider said. "That's a lot of what happened today."

Schneider added that the negotiating session included "a lot of good, honest, and open discussion," and that there was a good deal of player involvement.

The players attending the session Thursday were Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators). The PA was also represented by Fehr, Schneider, General Counsel Don Zavello, Special Counsel Steve Fehr, and legal counsel.

The NHL was represented by Commissioner Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Senior Executive V.P. of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, Senior V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan, Hockey Operations Managers Rob Blake and Stephane Quintal, Minnesota owner Craig Leipold, Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs, Toronto President and GM Brian Burke, Carolina President and GM Jim Rutherford, and legal counsel.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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