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NHL, NHLPA meet for an hour Thursday

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Representatives from the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association met for a third straight day in a Midtown hotel as the marathon session of negotiations toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement continued.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHL counsel Bob Batterman met with the Union for close to an hour Thursday before leaving at approximately 6 p.m.

The Union spent much of the day in internal meetings, and the negotiating session began shortly after 5 p.m.

The League and the NHLPA met for nearly 20 hours during the prior two days in negotiations for a new CBA. Those meetings took place without the presence of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr. Instead, it was a group of six owners and Deputy Commissioner Daly representing the League, and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr and a group of 17 to 19 players representing the Union.

The meeting late Thursday afternoon, however, saw Donald Fehr return to the table for the Union, joined by Steve Fehr and a group of players. Commissioner Bettman was still not present for the League, and the six owners present the first two days also were not at Thursday's session.

An NHLPA spokesperson said Thursday afternoon that the Union requested to have federal mediators return to the negotiations because the Union believes it will expedite the process of making a deal.

The NHL would have to grant consent to that request.

Representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services joined the negotiations last week and met with the two sides for several hours across the two days. However, the mediators could not move the process forward.

The NHL and NHLPA met for approximately 11 hours Wednesday, with talks bleeding into Thursday morning. The sides didn't break until roughly 1 a.m.

They also met for eight hours Tuesday.

Neither Commissioner Bettman nor Donald Fehr were part of the big-group meetings that took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

Removing Commissioner Bettman and Fehr from the big-group meetings was part of the agreement that the two sides made prior to getting together Tuesday afternoon. The idea was initially proposed last week by Commissioner Bettman after two days of meetings with the federal mediators yielded no progress.

The NHL and NHLPA have been without a CBA since Sept. 16. Games have been cancelled through Dec. 14, along with the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the 2013 NHL All-Star Game.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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