First of two days of talks lasts three hours

Updated: May 5, 2005, 7:05 PM ET
Associated Press

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

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.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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