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NHL labor talks scheduled for Friday

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By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 1:12 a.m.

The NHL and NHLPA will meet Friday, but the most vital sticking points in the current labor stoppage are not on the immediate agenda.

A league source confirmed to the Tribune-Review on Tuesday that while a meeting is scheduled for Friday, it will center on non-economic issues. The meeting will be in New York.

A possibility remains that core issues will be discussed.

The NHL and NHLPA are involved in a fierce dispute regarding the division of league revenue. NHL owners are demanding a rollback on player salaries, while the NHLPA, thoroughly humbled by the results of the 2004-05 labor dispute, are hungry to retain the league's current financial structure.

The respective sides last negotiated Sept. 14. On Sept. 15, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced there would be no more negotiations until the league locked out its players — something that happened later that night.

Daly and NHL Players' Association special counsel Steve Fehr met Tuesday in Toronto and decided then to schedule the latest session.

Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman are expected to meet face-to-face for Friday's talks.

The league recently announced that all September exhibition games were canceled.

As early as Wednesday, the NHL will announce that the entire preseason is lost. The Penguins have two preseason games scheduled for October — Oct. 3 in Detroit and Oct. 5 against Chicago — and it appears unlikely that either contest will be played.

Should the lockout go for another few days, it is likely that the beginning of the regular season will be postponed. The NHL season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11. The Penguins are scheduled to open their season Oct. 12 at home against the New York Islanders.

The NHL's locked out players, many of whom are resigned to a belief that the season won't begin on time, continue to get ready for the season.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby and 11 of his teammates skated at Southpointe in informal workouts Tuesday, something they've been doing almost daily for the past three weeks. Many of the players regularly on hand at these Southpointe workouts intend on playing overseas if the league doesn't soon resolve its labor problems.

Center Evgeni Malkin is one of many NHL players to participate in the KHL in Russia.

Meanwhile, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Kris Letang will take part in a series of exhibition games beginning next week in Quebec. All proceeds from the games will go to charity.

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