Wednesday, April 28, 2004

NHL labor talks to resume on Thursday

NHL notebook

The Associated Press

TORONTO - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' union head Bob Goodenow will meet in Toronto on Thursday in an effort to spur stalled labor talks.

The meeting will take place at a yet to be determined location and could extend through Friday, NHL Players' Association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said Tuesday. The NHL confirmed the scheduled meeting, saying it would release more information later in the week.

The NHL and NHLPA have offices in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Bettman and Goodenow are expected to attend a second-round playoff game in Toronto between the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers.

The league's current collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and negotiations are expected to be stormy and could potentially disrupt next season.

Thursday's meeting will mark the first formal negotiations since players and owners last met in Toronto on Oct. 1. Little appeared to come out of that meeting, which lasted only a few hours.

The two sides have spent the last few months making their respective arguments through the media.

Citing about $273 million in losses during the 2002-03 season, owners are seeking what they refer to as "cost certainty" to reign in player salaries.

The players have questioned how the league accounts for its revenues, and refer to the owners' proposal as a "salary cap," something they call unacceptable.

Last weekend, The Sports Network, a Canadian cable TV broadcaster, cited sources in reporting that the two sides are "on the same page" in negotiating to reduce the NHL schedule to 72 games, down from the current 82.

The NHL and players' association declined comment to The Associated Press on specific topics that are being discussed.

RED WINGS: Chris Chelios, 42, was missing from Detroit's lineup Tuesday night because of an undisclosed injury.

The defenseman sat out Game 3 of the second-round playoff series against Calgary and was replaced by Jason Woolley, who made his first postseason. Chelios had one assist in Detroit's first eight playoff games.

The Wings and Flames split the first two games in Detroit before the series shifted to Calgary.

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