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Sides meet with mediator; no new talks scheduled


February 20. 2013 12:49AM
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NEW YORK — The NHL and the players' association met separately with a federal mediator throughout Friday morning and well into the afternoon with no sign that they would return to the bargaining table anytime soon.


Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh has been shuttling back and forth between the hotel in which the union is working, and the league office. As of late afternoon, the sides had made no plans to get together.


After marathon talks that lasted deep into Wednesday night, the sides have remained apart with the exception of two smaller meetings on Thursday.


The lockout reached its 111th day Friday, and the sides have only one week to reach a deal on a collective bargaining agreement that would allow for a 48-game hockey season — the minimum the NHL has said it will play.


Commissioner Gary Bettman set a Jan. 11 deadline so the season can begin eight days later.


The players could be looking to wait until Saturday night to return to the bargaining table when it is expected that the executive board will again have the authority to exercise a disclaimer of interest that would allow the union to dissolve and become a trade association.


A vote among union members was initiated on Thursday, and players have until 6 p.m. Saturday to cast their ballots that would allow the board to take the action of the disclaimer. An earlier vote passed overwhelmingly last month, but the union let its self-imposed deadline to go by on Wednesday night without acting on it.


A restoration of authority to go the route of the disclaimer might be the leverage the union wants before it starts negotiating again.


Representatives from the league and the union met twice Thursday for small meetings, one dealing with the pension plan, but never got together for a full bargaining session. A long night of discussions Wednesday that stretched into the early morning hours didn't end well and created Thursday's lack of activity.





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