Ted Lindsay and Mathieu Schneider take part in the 2011 NHL Awards show. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images )
Representatives of the NHL and the players’ union made progress in resolving non-core issues such as drug testing and player safety during a negotiating session Friday morning and reconvened later in the day at the league’s New York headquarters. However, they didn’t discuss the economic differences that led the NHL to lock out players on Sept. 15 and subsequently cancel the exhibition schedule.
The two sides met for about two hours before taking a break to allow NHL executives to attend a funeral. The discussions, the first involving large delegations from both sides since the days leading up to the lockout, were expected to continue over the weekend but it’s unclear when or if they will attack the issues that have kept them apart and threaten the scheduled Oct. 11 season opener.
“You would absolutely hope that things progress and kind of catch fire, but right now we’re just going to take it one step at a time and try to come to an agreement on as many issues as possible,” Mathieu Schneider, a former King who is an executive of the NHL Players’ Assn., told the Associated Press. “We’re taking baby steps right now.”
Among the agreements was that drug testing will be more rigorous and will be extended into the playoffs.
Commissioner Gary Bettman participated in the morning meetings but Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Assn., didn’t join until the afternoon session.
Schneider said “some headway” was made on issues such as health and safety and training, but added he couldn’t say if mutual ground will also be found this weekend on the key economic issues.
“In general, when you’re dealing with collective bargaining, when you start to have agreements on smaller issues it can lead to bigger issues,” Schneider said. “But it’s still too early to say.”
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