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Third straight day of CBA discussions concludes

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Negotiations toward establishing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement concluded Sunday afternoon at the League office between the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association. The five-hour session came on the third straight day of meetings.

The sides met for nearly four hours Saturday and focused their efforts at finding common ground on the interpretations of specific hockey-related revenue (HRR) elements.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly again expressed disappointment that the League and the Union are not talking about the critical economic and systematic issues that continue to divide the sides and have put the opening of the regular season at risk.

Opening night for the 2012-13 season is scheduled for Oct. 11. All preseason games have been cancelled.

"As I said [Friday] night, these meetings are necessary but they've been described, I think, as the underbrush," Daly said Saturday in reference to the material covered in meetings the past two days. "Certainly, they are not the main issues that need to be tackled to get a deal."

In addition to the large-group session Saturday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr met in private for the second time in as many days. Their meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes, and Fehr said there will be another one-on-one conversation Sunday, either by phone or in person.

Fehr was not with the NHLPA contingent when it arrived at the League office for the start of Sunday's meeting.

"In general we're trying to discuss how do we find a way to make an agreement, how do we bridge the gaps on the major issues that are between us -- the kind of things you would hope we would be talking about," Fehr said Saturday.

Daly said the meeting Sunday should include a follow-up discussion on the health and player-safety issues tackled in Friday's negotiating session, as well as discussions about various CBA legal issues, including grievances. Daly was uncertain if the sides would again talk about the HRR definitional issues and was not optimistic that the critical economic and system issues would be broached.

"You're going to continue to have that [frustration] issue until we're able to talk about those issues," Daly said.

Daly said Friday the League is waiting for the Union to alter its economic proposal before engaging in further dialogue on the critical economic issues.

"I don't think it's anybody's turn," Fehr said when asked to respond. "My brother [NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr] said [Friday] it's not a ping-pong match. If they have a good idea, I assume they'll tell us. If we do, too, I'll certainly not stand on ceremony."

Daly said there was good dialogue Saturday as each side expressed its position on HRR interpretations.

"The nature of what we were trying to do today was to create certainty on interpretations we've had over seven years of this CBA operation," Daly said. "So, we're really just looking to codify interpretations we already have."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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