NHL, players' union: Another step?

The NHL's lockout has reached 26 days since the collective-bargaining agreement expired Sept. 15. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The NHL and the NHLPA are finally more interested in negotiating than sound bites.

That's good news as the lockout heads toward two months.

Representatives from the NHL and players' union met for 7 hours and 15 minutes in New York on Tuesday. It was the second leghthy meeting in four days.

Before that, they hadn't met for 15 straight days.

Neither side would comment after Tuesday's meeting, but the fact they agreed to meet again on Wednesday is a postive sign.

"The league will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until there is a conclusion," said Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner.

The meeting was attended by 13 players, including Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

“The players’ view has always been that we ought to keep negotiating until we find a way to get an agreement,” Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, told reporters before the sides met. “You sort of stay at it day by day, so it’s very good to be getting back to the table.”

The league is believed to be considering guaranteeing the players’ contracts _ without money being deferred through escrow. That would be a concession toward what the players want.

But there are still “other things that are important,” Fehr said.

The players figure to battle the NHL’s proposal to limit contracts to five years, along with several other issues, including the league’s desire to make the original team responsible for the salary-cap hit of a player who signed for more than five years _ even if the player retires after getting traded.

The league has canceled games through Nov. 30, along with the popular Winter Classic, which was scheduled to be played Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium. If a collective bargaining agreement is in place and the season starts Dec. 1, there is a good chance that a 64-game, conference-only schedule will be played.

   Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.