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Bettman, Goodenow not in attendance

2/13/2005

NEW YORK -- No progress was reported Sunday by the NHL or
the players' association after the sides met with federal mediators
in Washington just hours before a weekend deadline to save the
season.

The meeting that lasted just over five hours was arranged Friday
at the request of a high-ranking federal mediator. Neither
commissioner Gary Bettman nor players' association executive
director Bob Goodenow attended.

Instead, NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly was joined by outside
counsel Bob Batterman, with players' association senior director
Ted Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge on the other side.

"There was no progress to report as a result of this meeting,
and in fairness to the process it would serve no purpose to comment
further," Saskin said in a statement.

The sides were assisted by mediators twice before -- as recently
as a Feb. 2 negotiating session in Newark, N.J. Sunday's meeting
was requested by Scot B. Beckenbaugh, the acting director of the
U.S. Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service.

It wasn't clear if this get-together would extend the
commissioner's deadline. Bettman said a new collective bargaining
agreement had to be in place by Sunday for there to be a shortened
season.

"No progress in the collective bargaining process resulted from
the meeting," Daly said. "We have no further comment."

Neither side thought mediation would help end the stalemate that
has lasted five months.

"This isn't a negotiation that failed due to a lack of
understanding," Daly said on Thursday. "This is a negotiation
that has failed for other reasons. I don't think a mediator would
help in this process."

After two days of talks broke off Thursday in Toronto, Saskin
also didn't see mediation as the way to reach a settlement.

"That's not something we've given a lot of consideration to,
and certainly the NHL has made clear from Day 1 that they're not
interested in any form of mediation -- binding or nonbinding," he
said. "If the NHL came forward and said they wanted to do binding
mediation, then we'd have to do the analysis and have the
discussion."

Earlier Sunday, neither side seemed willing to budge or come
together again to work on a deal.

"Our position hasn't changed," a players' association
spokesman said.

"We will not be reaching out to them," Daly said.

The lockout reached its 151st day Sunday, when the league was
supposed to hold its All-Star game in Atlanta. So far, 824 of the
1,230 regular-season games have been lost and the remainder of the
schedule seems close to being wiped out.

Bettman said a deal needed to be down to the writing stages by
Sunday so the NHL could hold a 28-game season and a regular 16-team
playoff.

The NHL said its 30 clubs need to know what their costs would
be, and the only way that could be achieved was with a salary cap
that linked league revenues to player costs.

A cap was an automatic deal-breaker for the union even though it
agreed that the financial landscape had to change. The players'
association contended that there are many other ways to fix it.

The sides have traded proposals throughout the lockout that
started on Sept. 16. But the owners haven't come off their
salary-cap demands, and the players haven't relented on their
declaration that they won't accept that solution.

Other issues such as arbitration, revenue-sharing, and rookie
caps, haven't gotten to the true negotiating stage because the
sides couldn't tackle the big issue that seems likely to doom the
season.

On Friday, the NHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs, allowing them to
contact players -- something that was previously forbidden. The memo
also allowed team executives to speak publicly about the lockout
without being subject to significant fines.