NEW YORK (AP) — If time spent at the bargaining table indicates progress, the NHL and the locked-out players' association finally could be on their way to making a deal to get hockey back on the ice.
A second straight day of marathon negotiations took place Wednesday, when the two sides spent more than five hours hammering away at the most contentious issues separating them. Coupled with the more than seven hours they spent negotiating on Tuesday, owners and players have been together about 13 hours and are ready to get back to it on Thursday.
Neither side tipped its hand about what was discussed or if the talks were successful, and the location of the meetings is still being kept secret.
"The National Hockey League's negotiating committee met with representatives of the National Hockey League Players' Association for approximately 5½ hours," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement Wednesday night. "We do not intend to comment on the substance or subject matter of today's negotiations."
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr also said very little after the sides wrapped up the latest round of talks.
"The NHLPA and the NHL met to discuss many of the key issues," Fehr wrote in his statement. "We look forward to resuming talks (Thursday)."
Those issues include revenue sharing between teams and the "make-whole" provision, which involves the payment of player contracts that are already in effect. The lockout will be entering its 54th day Thursday, and there is still much to be done to work out the differences to reach a deal that will allow the already delayed and shortened season to begin.
Thursday will mark the fourth time in six days that face-to-face negotiations have taken place after the sides both rejected proposals on Oct. 18.
Along with a handful of team owners, eight players attended Wednesday's talks, five fewer than Tuesday. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and others left New York to try to avoid the impending snowstorm that hit the area, the union said.
There already was common ground before negotiations began Tuesday. The players' union adhered to the league's request to keep the meeting location a secret. With no outside distractions, the sides talked from afternoon until night. Then they did it again on Wednesday
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