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NHL, NHLPA clear schedules with progress being made in labour talks

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks.

The sides were granted an adjournment to a hearing with the Quebec Labour Board in Montreal concerning the legality of locking out members of the Canadiens. That meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday, now will be pushed back beyond Friday.

That issue was less pressing with the league and union making a push to end the work stoppage in New York.

The sides were expected to return to the bargaining table after a Board of Governors meeting wrapped up early Wednesday afternoon. The league owners gathered as a group for the first time since authorizing the lockout in September.

The NHL and NHLPA were looking to build on the progress made Tuesday, which NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr described as the best day yet in more than five months of talks. He stood alongside deputy commissioner Bill Daly and spoke briefly following more than eight hours of meetings that ended just before midnight.

“There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done,” Steve Fehr said late Tuesday.

Daly thanked the 18 players involved in talks that saw commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr left out of the room. The new dynamic seemed to spur progress.

“I appreciate the efforts of the players in particular,” said Daly. “We had 18 players in there today and six of our owners. I think everybody is working hard, I think everybody wants to get a deal done so I think that’s encouraging.

“We look forward to hopefully making more progress tomorrow.”

Money has been the biggest issue the sides needed to bridge.

Even though both the league and union proposed a 50-50 split of revenues over the last month, they remain separated on payments to be made outside the system to help ease the transition from the previous deal, which saw players receive 57 per cent. The NHL has offered $211 million in deferred compensation while the union has asked for $393 million.

There are also a number of rules governing player contracts that must be worked out before a new CBA is signed.