Labor meeting would be second in seven days


TORONTO- After breaking the silence last week, the NHL
and the Players Association apparently are ready to meet again.

According to a report on TSN of Canada's website, the league and
union will hold their second labor meeting in seven days
Thursday at an undisclosed location.

The sides gathered here Friday for the first time since February
19, three days after commissioner Gary Bettman announced the
official cancellation of the 2004-05 season. The 90-minute
session reportedly contained nothing more than dialogue as no
proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement were

The league was represented by Bettman, executive vice president
Bill Daly, general counsel David Zimmerman and outside counsel
Bob Batterman. Executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director
Ted Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver and outside counsel
John McCambridge participated on behalf of the union.

Bettman undoubtedly would like to have a deal in place in order
to save the entry draft, which is scheduled for June 25-26 in
Ottawa and features junior superstar Sidney Crosby, who is
expected to be selected first overall.

Despite the absence of a proposal during Friday's session, both
sides apparently have removed their previous offers from the
bargaining table.

In an effort to save the 2004-05 campaign prior to Bettman's
announcement on February 16, the league conceded the linking of
players' salaries to league revenues and the union backed off
its stance against a salary cap. But the sides could not agree on
a dollar amount for a cap as the NHL proposed a figure of $42.5
million while the union countered with a $49 million plan.

With neither party willing to give in to the other's request,
the NHL became the first major North American sports league to
have an entire season canceled due to a labor dispute.