NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) and union representing its locked-out players were expected to resume talks on Thursday aimed at salvaging the season.
Neither side was able to confirm exactly when they would reconvene but the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) indicated talks would resume after the union held its own internal meeting at a midtown Manhattan hotel.
The latest news came after a small group of NHL owners and players spent two consecutive days behind closed doors without key negotiators in the room trying to end a bitter labor dispute that has delayed the start of the season.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters late on Wednesday that the marathon talks were generally positive but work still had to be done to end the nearly three-month lockout.
“We obviously had a number of meetings today over many hours,” said Daly. “(We) had good, candid dialogue on a lot of issues. There continues to be some critical open issues between the two parties and we understand the union should be getting back to us on some of those issues.”
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was among a select group of players who met with a handful of team owners after previous talks collapsed.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Donald Fehr both agreed to take a break from the latest round of talks but were expected to rejoin later on Thursday.
This week’s discussions, aimed at ending a lockout that has already canceled about one-third of the 2012-13 season, were the first between the two sides since U.S. federal mediators failed to kickstart talks last week.
The NHL and the union representing its players have been without a collective bargaining agreement since mid-September, resulting in the scrubbing of 422 regular season games and the All-Star Weekend in Columbus that was scheduled for January.
The lockout, which the NHL has said is costing it about $18-$20 million per day, is centered around a dispute over how to split the league’s $3.3 billion revenue.
It is the fourth work stoppage in 20 years for the NHL and the first since a lockout led to cancellation of the 2004-05 season.
While both sides have agreed in principle to a 50-50 split of revenues they had remained at odds over how to reach the target, with owners demanding an immediate reduction from the 57 percent players received under the previous agreement, while the union sought to see cuts brought in gradually.
The players and owners also had deep differences on several other key points, including contract restraints and free agency.
Editing by Julian Linden