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NHL, union could resume negotiations Monday

| Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 5:52 p.m.

Bargaining between the NHL and its Players' Association could resume Monday.

Staff-level meetings between the league and union were held Sunday morning, and the NHLPA conducted internal sessions in the afternoon. Top league and union officials are in New York but were not involved in face-to-face discussions.

The meetings focused on specifics of a 300-page labor contract proposal the NHL made Thursday. The union is preparing a counterproposal, sources said.

The latest NHL offer was in response to a proposal the NHLPA made Dec. 6, a day after meetings between owners and players in New York. Those marked the last formal negotiations.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr did not participate in those sessions, and they have not met in person for bargaining since Nov. 29. Bettman and Fehr are expected to be present for meetings Monday.

Players are not expected to attend the Monday sessions. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he will practice with some teammates at Southpointe on Monday.

Crosby teamed with Penguins ownership and management in an attempt to bring moderate voices into the labor talks during the early-December meetings in New York.

Penguins union rep Craig Adams had not said as of Sunday whether he would head to New York for the Monday negotiations or wait until later in the week.

Players have been locked out since Sept. 15, when the last labor contract expired. Games are canceled through Jan. 14.

A season must begin by “mid January,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said.

League and union officials believe significant movement on a deal must exist by the weekend if a second lost season in eight years is to be avoided.

League employees, team officials, referees and players in Europe have been advised to prepare for seven days of training camp and for games to begin as early as Jan. 18. Several schedules have been drafted, all including 48 in-conference games for each of the 30 clubs.

The NHLPA has until Tuesday to file disclaimer of interest with the U.S. Department of Labor that would disband the union. Players on Dec. 21 authorized the executive board to make this legal maneuver.

The NHL has a pending class-action complaint against the union in New York federal court and an unfair practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com or 412-380-5635.

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