NHL talks slated for Monday

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It looks as if the NHL's labor negotiations won't be shutting down for two weeks after all.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said via email Saturday that talks for a new collective bargaining agreement likely would resume in the near future and subsequently confirmed that a session is planned Monday.

That meeting is being held at the behest of the NHL Players' Association.

The sides have not met in a week, and the NHL subsequently floated the concept of putting negotiations on ice for a couple of weeks, although Daly downplayed that idea Saturday.

When the talks pick up again, they will do so against a backdrop of reports that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might no longer enjoy the unqualified support of the owners he represents.

A story in the Philadelphia Daily News Saturday suggested that Flyers owner Ed Snider -- long viewed as one of the hard-line management figures in the NHL's ongoing lockout -- is softening his stance and might pressure Bettman to bring the dispute to a quick end.

That contention was attributed to multiple, but unnamed, sources. Team employees and owners, it should be noted, can be fined if they publicly discuss anything related to the lockout in terms of which Bettman does not approve.

Snider issued a statement that characterized the Daily News story as "absolutely erroneous" and himself as "a solid supporter" of Bettman "in this unfortunate situation."

While the story got attention across North America, the greatest interest locally likely stems from a reference in the closing paragraphs.

It said that, "Despite their on-ice rivalry, there seems to be some thinking that the Flyers are interested in teaming up with the midmarket but high-revenue Pittsburgh Penguins to sway more governors toward a swift resolution."

The Penguins have been regarded as moderates throughout the dispute, and co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle never have seemed to be particularly close with Snider.

Although the Penguins would not comment on the Daily News story, a person with ties to ownership said that, while it seems unlikely that Lemieux and Burkle would team with Snider in the way the story suggested, it can't be ruled out because the Penguins hope to salvage as many games as possible from the 2012-13 season.

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


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