No progress made in latest NHL negotiations

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The NHL and NHL Players' Association have spent a lot of time in meetings the past few days.

They just haven't done it together very much. And it's not clear when they might again.

Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh served as a go-between for the parties in Iselin, N.J., for the second day in a row Thursday and, unlike Wednesday, the union and league representatives were together in a room for a while. Neither side, however, reported any progress.

"It's good that we're talking," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr told reporters at the meeting site. "It's better than not talking."

He and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly are expected to be in contact by phone today, but there's no guarantee that will lead to face-to-face talks.

Further direct involvement by a mediator seems unlikely at this time, although no announcement about that has been made.

Steve Fehr, the No. 2 man in the NHLPA, and league attorney Bob Batterman represented their sides Thursday, although NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr also was involved at one point.

While a number of issues haven't even been discussed in the 90 days since the lockout began, the NHL has insisted that three of its positions -- limits on contract lengths and structure, rules governing the transition to the new collective bargaining agreement and the length of the new CBA -- are not negotiable.

The league has not budged from the stance it took on those issues last week, while the NHLPA has shown no inclination to accept them as proposed.NHL players have been locked out since Sept. 16, and the league has canceled games through Dec. 30.

NOTE -- Evgeni Malkin remains the top vote-getter in balloting for the Kontinental Hockey League all-star game, with a 39,539-32,585 edge over Pavel Datsyuk Thursday evening. Today is the final day of balloting at http://www.khlallstar.com/en/vote/.

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Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter @MolinariPG.


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