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NHL and players officials agree there is enough time for a new CBA

NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr listens

NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr listens as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman holds a news conference before Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals. (June 1, 2011) Credit: AP

The NHL and its players association agree on one thing: There is still is enough time to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires Sept. 15.

"I don't think time's running out yet," NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr said by phone on Tuesday from Barcelona, where he was meeting with his European players. "I still think if the parties are dedicated to it, there's sufficient time to reach an agreement."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly concurred. "While time is getting shorter, we continue to feel there is sufficient time to reach a deal before Sept. 15," Daly wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

The two sides resumed negotiations Tuesday at the league's offices in Manhattan, and will continue to meet daily through Friday. The union has not made its proposal in regard to core economic issues, but representatives from both sides said there is common ground on some non-economic issues.

Discussions on economic issues were put on hold until Wednesday in favor of talks focused on player safety and miscellaneous legal issues. Both Fehr's special assistant Mathieu Schneider and the NHL's Daly said there is a considerable common ground in these areas.

"A lot of these issues we have the same goals and the same purposes and it makes it easier to get through some of the smaller issues," Schneider said. "It's been valuable having some of this time while the economic proposals are being developed that we're able to get through a lot of these smaller issues now."

The NHLPA is putting together a counterproposal to the league's proposal in mid-July. Both sides have acknowledged that the NHLPA is still waiting to receive a considerable amount of independently verified financial information from the league. While Schneider said the union will "probably need most of it" before it can finalize an offer, Daly said the players "certainly have the key data they were looking for."

Daly said the league would like to receive the players' proposal as soon as possible.

"I'm not sure we're necessarily in a holding pattern per se," Daly said. "We're continuing to meet and we're continuing to try to hash through the other issues that you need to . . . but certainly the sooner we can get that proposal, the better."

The 2012-2013 season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

"Look, I'm sure it's going to go right down to the wire because these things necessarily do," Daly said. "But I feel that we're in a real negotiation process; I'm not sure I always felt that way in 2004. So I'd distinguish this summer from that summer."

With AP

New York Sports