Baby steps as NHL, players meet

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been heavily criticized during the NHL lockout. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Representatives of the NHL and the players’ association met in New York City on Friday, trying to find some common ground that will lead to a new collective-bargaining agreement and an end to the lockout.

Instead of discussing the core economic issues, the talks revolved around the players’ safety and health concerns in the first formal meeting since Sept. 12. Both sides discussed possibly expanding the timetable for drug-testing procedures on players.

In the recently expired CBA, players could be subjected to up to two no-notice tests from the start of training camp until the end of the regular season.

“I don’t think we have an issue with drugs and performance-enhancing drugs in our sport,” Mathieu Schneider , the NHLPA’s special assistant to the executive director, told reporters in New York. “We’re looking at possibly expanding it a little bit to cover maybe the playoffs, maybe the offseason, but other than that, we’re in agreement that it’s not an issue in our sport.”
Schneider told the New York Daily News “it’s in the players’ best interest, as well as the sport’s, to close off any possible time during the year when players could use. But, again, we’ve had I think one positive (test) in our sport, and I don’t see it as a problem.”

The league has canceled the entire exhibition schedule, and the Oct. 11 openers, along with the first few weeks of the regular season, are in severe jeopardy.

Dividing hockey-related revenue and increasing revenue sharing to help teams that are struggling financially are the main issues in the labor stalemate. Those issues will be discussed at a future time.


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“I think in general when you’re dealing with collective bargaining, when you start to have agreement on smaller issues, it can lead to bigger issues,” Schneider said. “But it’s still too early to say.”

Late in the afternoon on Friday, Don Fehr, NHLPA executive director, joined the second session of the day.

Phantoms on ice. The AHL Adirondack Phantoms will open training camp at 9 a.m. Saturday in Voorhees. The sessions are open to the public and free.

Several players who spent time with the Flyers last season and have two-way contracts will be playing with the Phantoms, including Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo and Erik Gustafsson.

Sad news. Matthew DiPaolo, a Plymouth Meeting resident who was a former physical therapist for the Flyers, died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday, the club announced. He was 77.

Mr. DiPaolo became the NHL’s first full-time physical therapist when he was hired by the Flyers in 1976. He spent four seasons with the Flyers and later owned and operated two physical-therapy centers in Montgomery County.

A memorial celebration of his life will be held Sunday at the Church on the Mall, Plymouth Meeting, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Playground built. The Flyers' alumni and staff were joined by volunteers from Wells Fargo, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Impact Services Corporation, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and workers from the non-profit organization KaBOOM to erect a playground at McPherson Square Park in North Philadelphia.

 The playground, built by more than 200 volunteers, was designed by children.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.