Progress made in talks over 'financial issues'

CHICAGO -- Progress was reported Thursday for the second
straight week in labor talks between the NHL and the players'

Both sides issued brief statements, but didn't reveal many
details of what was discussed.

Players' association senior director Ted Saskin said he expected
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Bob
Goodenow to schedule new meetings soon.

"We just completed two days of meetings focused on revenue
measurement and reporting issues," Saskin said. "There is a lot
more information to be exchanged between the parties."

NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said the sides planned to meet
again next week.

"Further progress was made in reviewing and discussing league
and club financial and accounting issues," Daly said.

The sides met in smaller groups and without Bettman and Goodenow
just as they did last week in advance of two days of full
bargaining sessions that lasted 22 hours over two days.

That led to the latest round of talks that started with a
6½-hour session on Wednesday.

The sides are trying to reach a new collective bargaining
agreement with a salary cap.

As has been the case since before the lockout began last
September, the league and the players' association are trying to
find common ground on the idea of a cap. The sides have agreed to
have one, now it's just a matter of agreeing on how it should work
and what the upper and lower limits of the cap should be for each

Working off an April 4 concept offered by the players'
association, the league and union are looking to develop a system
with an upper cap that could move each year depending on revenues.

Last week, the sides met for four straight days in New York.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in smaller groups. The respective
leaders rejoined the talks for full bargaining sessions on Thursday
and Friday that produced the first signs of progress in the
standoff that forced the cancelation of the 2004-05 season.

The sides met for the fourth straight week and plan to keep up
that kind of schedule until a deal can be worked out.