NEW YORK (AP) — The best news on the 80th day of the NHL lockout was that hockey owners and players did most of their talking in front of each other instead of making public statements.
The dueling sides in hockey's labor fight met for nearly eight hours — over two long sessions — on Tuesday, and those conversations lasted until midnight. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly stood side-by-side with union special counsel Steve Fehr at the end of the long and seemingly positive day, but didn't take questions from a large group of reporters who staked out the meetings at a Manhattan hotel.
The sides already have plans to meet Wednesday morning with the same group before the league's planned board of governors gathering, and could get back together after that is completed.
"We had a long day," Fehr said. "We thought it was a constructive day. We had a good dialogue. In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had, which isn't too overly optimistic of a picture. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done. We will be back at it tomorrow morning."
Daly echoed Fehr's comments, and spoke well of the talks that included 18 players and six team owners.
"I appreciate the efforts of the players," Daly said. "Everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so that's encouraging. We look forward to hopefully making more progress tomorrow.
"Hopefully, we'll have more to update you on tomorrow. We are going forward with our board meeting. Hopefully be back at it after that, as well."
That was the extent of the details revealed by the two sides, which could be another good sign that neither group wanted to say anything that could throw the discussions off the rails.
A group of six owners and 18 players — many more than were originally expected — gathered to try to find some common ground as the search for a deal that would save the hockey season continued. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr were at the hotel but stayed outside the meeting room.
Not much had worked up until Tuesday so the sides agreed to a different format to see if that would shake things up.