Talks scheduled for Thursday and Friday

Updated: May 5, 2005, 10:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The NHL and the players' association will hold the next round of labor talks Thursday and Friday, several sources close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday.

The first bargaining sessions since April 19 will take place in Toronto, the sources said on condition of anonymity. The league and the union have met five times since commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the entire 2004-05 season on Feb. 16.

Sources have told The Sports Network of Canada (TSN) that two more bargaining sessions are scheduled for May 9 and 10 in New York City before representatives from both sides go to Austria for the World Championship.

No meetings are currently scheduled to take place in Austria, but the two sides are slated to get back together again May 18 and 19 in Toronto.

The NHLPA has scheduled a membership meeting, where hundreds of players are expected to attend, for May 24 in Toronto.

Negotiations have recently centered around a new, hybrid concept -- which addresses the relationship between player costs and league revenues -- that was first discussed during the last round of talks in Toronto on April 4.

The idea contains an upper and lower salary cap that would float among the 30 teams depending on revenues. As before, the sides have not come close to determining the values of the caps or how wide a range there should be between the minimums and maximums.

The landscape has already dramatically changed on both sides since the last get-together just two weeks ago.

Bettman announced following a meeting with the NHL board of governors that next season won't start on time if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached with the players' association. That would eliminate the possibility of replacement players being used, at least as an effort to get a full regular season under way as usual in October.

Last week, the players' association applied for union certification in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia to prevent the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks from using replacement players at home during the lockout.

Employees in Quebec and British Columbia can't be replaced during a lockout or strike that is governed by the provincial labor code. The players' association wants to establish itself in those provinces as a certified union.

The British Columbia labor relations board will hold a hearing Tuesday regarding the application in that province. The NHL and the Canucks will have the opportunity then to file any objections.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.