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Penguins' Adams frustrated by NHL labor talks

| Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 6:46 p.m.
Jared Staal takes the puck down the ice during the opening hockey practice of the Charlotte Checkers training camp in Indian Trail, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Several of the Carolina Hurricanes players are training with the Checkers, their AHL affiliate team, during the NHL lockout. AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Penguins player representative Craig Adams told the Tribune-Review on Saturday night that little progress has been made after two days of negotiations in New York between the NHL and NHLPA.

The sides will meet again Sunday.

Although Adams did say “some common ground” was reached on minor issues like drug testing and scheduling issues, the biggest issue — how the league and the NHLPA will divide future revenues — wasn't even discussed Friday or Saturday.

“It's disappointing,” Adams said. “Obviously we know it's the elephant in the room. That is what needs to be worked out. It's the biggest obstacle standing between us and a new deal. I didn't necessarily have expectations, but yeah, I'd be happier if we had made some ground.”

It remains unknown when the sides will meet following Sunday's gathering. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr met privately Saturday, but neither was willing to budge.

“I spent a few minutes with Gary talking about the overall situation, and we agreed to keep in touch,” Fehr said Saturday. “I am sure we will talk again (Sunday). I don't know whether will meet again (Sunday). That remains to be seen.

“I am not going to talk about the specifics, but in general we're trying to discuss how do we find a way to make an agreement. How do we bridge the gap on the major issues that are between us.”

The last time the NHLPA and owners met was Sept. 12. Adams hope the delay isn't that long before the next meeting. He isn't encouraged by the latest round of talks.

“I would say that's fair, yes,” he said. “But there is always a possibility of us talking about the big issues tomorrow. We'll see.”

While negotiating teams from the union and the league discussed definitions of what makes up hockey-related revenue — the pool of money the sides are trying to figure out how to split up — Fehr and Bettman talked about the differences that are keeping the sides apart.

The sides met for about four hours before finishing Saturday. The agenda likely will include discussions on health and safety issues — a topic that made up a chunk of Friday's talks — and miscellaneous legal things, such as grievances, game tickets and other topics.

Clarifications as to what will fall under the umbrella of hockey-related revenue going forward in the next agreement dominated discussions Saturday.

No concrete resolutions were made, and the topic could be revisited Sunday.

“I am not sure if we have identified discrepancies,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “I think the nature of what we were trying to do today was to create certainty on interpretations we've had over seven years of this CBA operation.

“These meetings are necessary but they have been described as the underbrush, and certainly they aren't the main issues that need to be tackled to get a deal.”

Saturday's talks came two days after the league canceled the remaining preseason games. The regular season is scheduled to start Oct. 11.

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