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Reports: Proposals traded as optimism grows around NHL lockout

The SportsXchange

Talks between the NHL and its players union to end the nearly three-month lockout continued Wednesday amid reports that both sides exchanged "proposals" to possibly bring the work stoppage to an eventual end, according to a report from ESPNNewYork.com.

After more than eight hours of negotiating on Tuesday ended after midnight, both sides were back together Wednesday and exchanged respective proposals that were then considered in breakout sessions by each side in several discussion periods afterward.

That could be a sign of progress, although negotiations are also still believed to be "very delicate," a source inside the negotiating room told the web site. What was contained in both the players' initial proposal and the subsequent counterproposal by the league is unknown, according to the site.

On Wednesday night, The Sports Network in Canada reported the league was asking for a 10-year deal, though the league was favoring a shorter deal. The NFL and NBA recently signed 10-year labor deals.

TSN.CA also was reporting the sides already were discussing length of the season when they come to an agreement. The sides seemed to be leading toward a 50-game 2012-13 season if an agreement is hammered out soon.

A potential positive sign could be construed from a comment by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who said he was "pleased with the process" of Wednesday's talks, but offered no specifics.

Neither Bettman nor NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr were believed to have been in Wednesday's meetings, reportedly choosing to remain outside the talks.

Following Tuesday's lengthy session, Bettman told reporters, "We are pleased with the process that is ongoing, and out of respect for that process, I don't have anything else to say."

Since the lockout began on Sept. 16, the NHL has cancelled games through Dec. 15, as well as the Winter Classic that was to be held at the University of Michigan in early January, as well as the league's All-Star Game. The NHL is the only professional sports league to ever cancel an entire season due to a lockout, that being 2004-05.
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