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NHL a longshot to preserve 82-game schedule

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 9:58 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — PHILADELPHIA — Two days before the NHL’s deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement, representatives from the league and the players union were not at the bargaining table Tuesday.

If you’re scoring at home, the sides have not met for five straight days.

The NHL says it needs a new collective bargaining agreement in place by Thursday in order to start one-week training camps Friday and begin an 82-game season Nov. 2.

That is now an extremely longshot.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, said in an e-mail to The Philadelphia Inquirer that the league has “never ruled out the possibility of using a mediator” to jump-start negotiations. “Whether we do it or not may be considered again, but likely not before this week’s events play out.”

Asked if the NHL would scrap more games Friday if an agreement is not worked out, Daly said the league was “not focused on additional cancellations at this point in time.”

The league has wiped out the season’s first three weeks, though it plans to make up those games if a CBA is in place Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Canadian network TVA reported that the NHL had circulated a memo last week to owners and general managers, giving them 48 hours (from late Wednesday to Friday) to speak to players about the most recent proposal.

That did not produce any progress — and raised the ire of the players union.

“Most owners are not allowed to attend bargaining meetings,” Steve Fehr, the NHL Players’ Association’s special counsel, said in a statement Tuesday. “No owners are allowed to speak to the media about the bargaining. It is interesting that they are secretly unleashed to talk to the players about the meetings the players can attend, but the owners cannot.”

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