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Mediator wants NHL talks to continue Thursday

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 9:16 p.m.
Sidney Crosby practices with six of his fellow teammates Wednesday January 2, 2013 at the team's practice facility in Southpointe. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The NHL Players' Association didn't inform the NHL that it was filing a disclaimer of interest, which would essentially dissolve the union, before a self-imposed midnight Thursday deadline, according to league commissioner Gary Bettman.

When asked if the union had filed a disclaimer of interest, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr refused to give specifics.

“It is an internal matter,” he said.

The two sides and mediator Scot Beckenbaugh negotiated for five hours Wednesday night, with discussions ending at about 1 a.m. Thursday. Beckenbaugh has requested that the two sides meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“As long as the process continues,” Bettman said, “I am hopeful.”

Only five minutes before Bettman confirmed the meeting request, Fehr said he was unsure if the sides would meet Thursday.

Meanwhile, the union still can choose to dissolve itself despite its deadline passing.

“The players are keeping their legal options open,” Fehr said.

The biggest issue during discussions the past two days is a discrepancy regarding pension plans.

“The sides moved closer on some issues,” Fehr said, “but there's still a way to go.”

Fehr gave few details of the negotiating session Wednesday but said federal mediators were included. Mediators have been involved off and on for the past month but haven't made a significant difference.

Bettman admitted the pension issue is an important one.

“It's a complicated matter,” he said. “And we realize it's something that is very important to the players.”

Bettman has said for a 48-game season to begin Jan. 19, a deal must be in place by Jan. 11.

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