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NHL negotiations in overtime

With a snow storm in Manhattan making it feel like hockey season on Wednesday night, the NHL and NHL Players' Association held another long bargaining session in a bid to get the game back on the ice.

The top negotiators spent more than five hours discussing revenue sharing and the "make whole" provision and were expected to continue with those topics when talks resumed Thursday.

Bargaining has taken on a new level of urgency this week. Privately, the sides acknowledged that they are engaged in meaningful back-and-forth negotiations for the first time, which helps explain their decision to meet in an undisclosed location and refrain from making public comments afterwards.

On Wednesday night, neither the NHL or NHLPA gave an update on progress.

The lengthy meetings seemed to suggest a push was on to save as much of the disrupted season as possible. Once a CBA is eventually ratified, a source indicated it would likely be 10 days before the puck could be dropped on meaningful games, a span that would see players given three days to report to their teams and seven days for training camp.

With the NHL locked in its fourth work stoppage over the past two decades, tension seems to be rising from all corners of the sport. Pockets of owners and players are believed to be exerting pressure on their leadership to get a new deal, while Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn, whose company is a major league sponsor, told The Canadian Press in an interview that the brewer would seek compensation from the NHL when the lockout ends.

"There will be some redress for us as a result of this," said Swinburn. "I can't quantify that and I don't know because I don't know the scale of how long the lockout is going to last."

The labour dispute has clearly inflicted some short-term damage on a league that hauled in a record US$3.3-billion in revenues last season.

The Canadian Press


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