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NHL calls off rest of the preseason

Talks between the NHL and its Players&#'; Association resume today, the first meeting since commissioner Gary Bettman made the lockout of the league&#';s players official nearly two weeks ago and the ice is clear for the forseeable future after the remaining preseason schedule was canceled on Thursday.

The two sides aren&#';t planning to stop with a one-day catch-up session. Meetings are scheduled to take place today, Saturday and Sunday in Manhattan with the crux of the conversation will be on &#';non-core economic issues.&#';

In other words, the central focus of the lockout — splitting of revenue exceeding $3 billion — is being pushed to the backburner until the two sides can come to agreement on secondary points.

The sides last held negotiations Sept. 12 and the NHL said there has been no counteroffer to the extensive proposal it made that day.

If progress cannot be made on matters unrelated to the financial fight, the lockout could be prolonged and future talks jeopardized.

If the two sides agree on issues such as player safety, scheduling, pensions, grievance and discipline structure, the momentum could lead to another round of talks that put economics on the agenda.

The NHL season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11. The balance of the preseason was officially cancelled on Thursday. Preseason games had been canceled through Sept. 30.


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