Talks scheduled for Thursday and Friday

NEW YORK -- The NHL and the players' association will hold
the next round of labor talks Thursday and Friday, several sources
close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday.

The first bargaining sessions since April 19 will take place in
Toronto, the sources said on condition of anonymity. The league and
the union have met five times since commissioner Gary Bettman
canceled the entire 2004-05 season on Feb. 16.

Sources have told The Sports Network of Canada (TSN) that two more bargaining sessions are scheduled for May 9 and 10 in New York City before representatives from both sides go to Austria for the World Championship.

No meetings are currently scheduled to take place in Austria, but the two sides are slated to get back together again May 18 and 19 in Toronto.

The NHLPA has scheduled a membership meeting, where hundreds of players are expected to attend, for May 24 in Toronto.

Negotiations have recently centered around a new, hybrid concept
-- which addresses the relationship between player costs and league
revenues -- that was first discussed during the last round of talks
in Toronto on April 4.

The idea contains an upper and lower salary cap that would float
among the 30 teams depending on revenues. As before, the sides have
not come close to determining the values of the caps or how wide a
range there should be between the minimums and maximums.

The landscape has already dramatically changed on both sides
since the last get-together just two weeks ago.

Bettman announced following a meeting with the NHL board of
governors that next season won't start on time if a new collective
bargaining agreement hasn't been reached with the players'
association. That would eliminate the possibility of replacement
players being used, at least as an effort to get a full regular
season under way as usual in October.

Last week, the players' association applied for union
certification in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British
Columbia to prevent the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks
from using replacement players at home during the lockout.

Employees in Quebec and British Columbia can't be replaced
during a lockout or strike that is governed by the provincial labor
code. The players' association wants to establish itself in those
provinces as a certified union.

The British Columbia labor relations board will hold a hearing
Tuesday regarding the application in that province. The NHL and the
Canucks will have the opportunity then to file any objections.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.