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Subcommittee work dominates latest CBA session

by Corey Masisak

NEW YORK -- Members of the negotiating committees for the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association met Wednesday for a second consecutive day of meetings at the League's office to discuss a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The current CBA expires Sept. 15.

After a full committee session Tuesday, the work Wednesday was more focused on subcommittee discussions involving two smaller groups.

One group had discussions about player-safety issues and the other discussed players' retirement benefits.

There was also a separate session involving the legal counsel for both sides to update the status of information requests.

"I think we had good experiences in the working groups," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "I know the hockey-issues working group met twice already. I think we have some good momentum in those areas."

"Today we talked, the group that I was in, we did some health and safety issues," said Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to the executive director of the NHLPA. "We talked about doctors, second opinions, things like that -- training staff, team doctors. It was a real good, healthy discussion and much like our last round of subcommittee meetings, we have the same goals.

"We have a lot of common interests and a lot of common ground."

Added Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth, who took part in the other small group: "We worked on retirement benefits and medical care. I think it was a pretty good discussion. This is something that we want to work through as quickly as possible, and hopefully figure it all out."

The two sides will meet again next week in New York, meeting from Tuesday through Friday.

"We actually sat down yesterday and worked out a schedule through the early part of September," Daly said. "We packed more days into the schedule and we scheduled some more meetings for working groups."

Monday, the League delivered 76,000 pages of club financial material to the PA in response to a request from the Union. The Players Association says it is awaiting further information.

"I don't think there is a real mystery, at least vis-à-vis the Players' Association, with respect to the financial condition of our clubs," Daly said.

"Part of it is we've asked for an independent audit to all the teams," Schneider said. "We have had the opportunities to examine individual teams. We did so last year. I believe that was related to hockey-related revenues, not the audited statements. It hasn't been brought together from all 30 teams, that is for sure.

"I think that is just part of any basic information request. If you're going to have deals of this magnitude, you're going to want the audited numbers. I think that is pretty much standard."

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