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Mediators to rejoin NHL, union talks

Associated Press NHL labor negotiations will resume today, with mediators rejoining the talks at an undisclosed location in an effort to save the hockey season. The Canadian Press on Tuesday reported the restart of bargaining between the league and union, citing unidentified sources on both sides of the 87-day lockout. U.S. federal mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are to return to the process. They took part in sessions Nov. 27 and 28 before deciding they couldn’t help. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, based in Washington, also was involved during the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 NHL season. Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated last week he didn’t think mediators would be able to help bridge the gap. “We’re not interested in mediation,” he said Thursday. “We went through it a week and a half ago. It was of no value because of the position of the parties.” Today’s session will be the first meeting since the sides blamed each other after talks broke off last week. Until then, they appeared to be making progress during three days in New York in which they exchanged proposals. Union Executive Director Donald Fehr maintains there are agreements on almost all the important issues. From the league’s point of view, three main issues remain: the length of the collective bargaining agreement, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules to help teams get under the salary cap. There are also secondary issues yet to be agreed on, including the participation of NHL players in the Olympics, the international calendar and drug-testing rules.

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