First of two days of talks lasts three hours


The NHL and the players' association met for just over three
hours Thursday in the first round of labor negotiations in two

The sides will get together again in Toronto on Friday, as
previously planned, and already have two bargaining sessions
scheduled for each of the next two weeks.

There were no details released about Thursday's talks -- the
sixth bargaining session since NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
canceled the entire 2004-05 season on Feb. 16. Both sides declined
comment until Friday when this week's talks wrap up.

When they last met on April 19, the discussions ended with a
heated exchange between Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and
players' association leadership.

The landscape for this meeting was vastly different, but the
participants remained largely the same.

Bettman, NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly, New Jersey Devils
CEO Lou Lamoriello, chairman of the board of governors Harley
Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner
Craig Leipold, and attorneys David Zimmerman and Shep Goldfein
represented the league.

On the players' association side were: executive director Bob
Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, director of business
relations Mike Gartner, NHLPA president Trevor Linden, and
executive committee vice presidents Bill Guerin and Bob Boughner.

Bettman announced following a meeting on April 20 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.

A hearing on Tuesday lasted about three hours with the focus
mostly on the NHL's argument that the hearing should be postponed
on jurisdictional issues. The league filed an unfair labor charge
with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board after the players'
association applied for union certification in the provinces.

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.

A ruling is expected to be handed down by early next week.