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Long day ahead for NHL and union

The push towards a deal that would save a shortened NHL season continued Tuesday.

The league and union were gearing up for a full day of talks with a deadline looming to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

After the NHLPA presented a counter-proposal on Monday, small groups from each side held a conference call early Tuesday afternoon. Another face-to-face meeting was expected to commence at the league office later in the evening.

The talks are being held with an eye on preserving at least a 48-game schedule, the same number that was played following the 1994-95 lockout. An agreement would need to be in place by Jan. 11 for that to happen.

"What we've said is we need to drop the puck by Jan. 19 if we're going to play a 48-game season," commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday. "We don't think it makes sense to play a season that is any shorter than that."

League officials met well into the night Monday after receiving a new offer from the union. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the union's proposal included movement on key issues, but declined to elaborate.

It came three days after the NHL tabled a new offer that sparked the latest round of talks.

"We covered the range of subjects they covered," said Fehr.

With a push now on to make an agreement, Fehr and Bettman rejoined talks for the first time in more than a month. The two leaders stayed out of the bargaining room during three days of negotiations in early December.

The Canadian Press


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