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NHL, as expected, cancels more games; Sabres lose eight as schedule axed through Dec. 30

The NHL surprised no one today. With negotiations still at a standstill and no end to the lockout imminent, the league has wiped out another portion of its schedule.

The NHL has canceled all games through Dec. 30, a two-week chunk added to the previous cancellations that extend through Friday. By leaving Dec. 31 available, it's technically possibly the league could have a 2012-13 season rather than just a 2013 shortened season.

The Buffalo Sabres lost eight more games with today's announcement, including their traditional holiday sellout and a West Coast road trip. The Sabres were scheduled to host Montreal on Saturday and Washington on Dec. 26. Buffalo was supposed to visit Montreal (next Monday), Edmonton (Dec. 20), Calgary (Dec. 22), Colorado (Dec. 23), Minnesota (Dec. 28) and Winnipeg (Dec. 29).

Combined with the prior cancellations, the Sabres have had 35 of their 82 games wiped out.

The NHL would like to hold a seven-day training camp prior to the start of the season, so the league and the NHL Players' Association need a collective bargaining agreement in place by Christmas Eve in order to avoid more cancellations.

---John Vogl

Buffalo Junior Sabres move up to No. 8 in CJHL, set to host rival St. Michael's tonight

Michael Peca, while recently discussing the nationally recognized Buffalo Junior Sabres, said he sees a foundation for long-term success. He says the organization can grow to be as accomplished as a team like St. Michael's.

Tonight, the coach gets to see how this edition of the Junior Sabres stacks up against the model program.

The Junior Sabres, who moved up to No. 8 today in the Canadian Junior Hockey League national rankings, host St. Michael's at 7:30 tonight in Northtown Center at Amherst. The Buzzers earned an honorable mention in the CJHL poll, which includes 128 teams in 10 Junior A leagues across Canada.

The Junior Sabres and St. Michael's lead their respective divisions in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Buffalo is atop the South West Conference's West Division with a 25-8-2 record. The Buzzers are 20-8-2 and lead the South Division.

---John Vogl

If they play, there will be no time for slumps or slow starts

You can read all over the Internet about speculation that the NHL still had hopes of a 60-game season had talks not broken off Thursday night to end the lockout. Gary Bettman said afterward that no less than a 48-game schedule -- the same that was played in 1994-95 -- would be considered to maintain "integrity" of the competition (like there's any integrity left here but I digress ... )

With games only canceled through Friday, it's likely the league will have to dump more off the schedule as soon as Monday (the Sabres have already had 27 canceled).

So we're close to a best-case scenario of a 48-game season. The Sabres have 46 scheduled from Jan. 1 on and it would be easy to throw two more dates in there.

With that in mind, and thinking optimistically about hockey at some point, I decided to look back to last season. You can't put every team at 48 games so I put the Sabres at 48 and it was an ugly time: The morning of Jan. 22 when they awoke on a five-game skid overall and having lost a franchise-record 12 straight on the road after a 4-2 loss in St. Louis.

The standings at that point are here. The Sabres were 19-24-5 and 14th in the Eastern Conference. But the incredible thing I found was this -- 15 of the 16 playoff teams from last season were already determined by that point. 

The top eight in the East (NYR, BOS, FLA, PHI, OTT, PIT, NJ, WAS) all made the playoffs as did seven of the eight in the West (DET, VAN, SJ, STL, CHI, NAS, LA). Only Phoenix, which eventually caught Colorado, snuck in.

Most hockey observers say it's tough to come from out of the playoffs to sneak in after the new year and this certainly upholds that theory. Some people say it's even earlier, like the start of December.

One thing is for sure: In a short season, there's going to be no time for long slumps, no time for a late rush to the top eight -- which is something the Sabres have tried to pull off in four of the last five years and only succeeded in 2011. 

If everything is pretty well decided by 48 games of an 82-game season, that means you better be in good shape by game 30 of a short schedule. Maybe sooner. If we get back to seeing hockey, it will make for a pretty unusual dynamic right from the start of the season.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Myers injured in Austria but should return in a week

The Sabres have had plenty of injury problems during the lockout (Corey Tropp and Cody Hodgson in Rochester, Tyler Ennis in Switzerland) and there was plenty of concern when reports surfaced out of Austria that Tyler Myers was heading for an MRI on his ankle after being injured while playing Friday night for Klagenfurter AC.

This web update translated from German should allow the Sabres to breathe a little easier with the report that Myers has stretched ligaments and could be back by Friday. Disaster apparently averted.

If the NHL season ever starts, remember that Myers is tied for the second-highest salary in the NHL for 2012-13 at $12 million. And he's not missing that money; he got $10 million in a signing bonus July 1 as the first part of his seven-year, $38.5 million deal.

Myers has two goals, seven assists and is minus-8 in 16 games in Austria.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Fehr update: NHLPA head insists deal was close

After his speech Saturday afternoon in Toronto to the Canadian Auto Workers, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spoke to some reporters and maintained his stance that the players and the NHL were "very close" to making a deal Thursday night before talks broke down.

Fehr, remember, seemed to indicate a similar feeling during his inital press conference Thursday before having to return to the podium to say the league had rejected the players' proposal.  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman then said it was "almost incomprehensible" Fehr felt an agreement was close.

Fehr confirmed Saturday no further talks are currently scheduled and he has not spoken to NHL officials since they broke off.

"They have not indicated a willingness to continue discussions," Fehr said. "They're the ones that called a halt to the process. ... The players have never made threats to walk out. We've had any number of threats from the other side."

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Saturday lockout chatter: Fehr wants to 'keep at the process'

There were no bomshells dropped by NHLPA head Donald Fehr when he spoke Saturday to a meeting of the Canadian Auto Workers at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto. He's not resigning, the union likely isn't decertifying. It seems to be the hope -- maybe against hope -- that negotiation will eventually work. 

"I had hoped when this invitation came and even earlier this week to be in a position to tell you that we had successfully concluded an agreement and that the lockout was over,' Fehr said. "As you know, I can't do that. I can't tell you when it's going to end. I can tell you that the only way it ends is to keep at the process and hope that eventually we are able to find a way through the thicket of issues that are there."

There are currently no new sessions scheduled and the league is likely to whack the rest of December games as soon as Monday. Fehr, as you would expect, questioned the wisdom of the NHL -- and all sports -- using lockouts as a negotiating tactics. 

"This happens in an industry which does not face the kind of competitive pressure that employers talk about in bargaining in many other industries," Fehr said. "There is no other major hockey league in North America. There is no outsourcing problem. We can't move the plant to Bangladesh. But it doesn't seem to matter. And it doesn't seem to matter what the economic circumstances of the league is."

Fehr said he was proud to help rebuild the NHLPA and to foster participation from its roughly 750 members (the union, remember, completely broke down under Bob Goodenow during the '04-05 lockout).

"I learned a long, long time ago from [late baseball players head] Marvin Miller that in the end if you really don't have any idea what to recommend or none of the choices are good, or none of the options appear to be tremendously better than the others, that what you do is trust your membership," Fehr said. "They'll tell you what the right thing to do is."

(At this point, you have to wonder what the players would tell Fehr to do if things were put to a vote. I don't see, for example, the likes of Matt Ellis or Cody McCormick having to worry about whether they could sign a five- or seven-year deal.)

Said Fehr in his closing remarks, "If anybody has a brilliant idea about how to solve the lockout, don't keep it to yourself. ... My own hope and, far more importantly the hope of the players, that we'll find a way to get through this and get the guys back on the ice much sooner rather than later."

Elsewhere: 

Go to this link for John Vogl's story from Page A-1 of today's paper recounting an exchange of texts and emails he had with Ryan Miller on the negotiations.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman has a conversation with Winnipeg defenseman Ron Hainsey, who is being described as the NHLPA's "bad cop." Hainsey admits he's pondered the thought that no NHL team will offer him a contract next year when his contract runs out as a means of retribution for his union activities. 

Hainsey is in the Miller zone for having well-spoken perspectives on league issues. We had a long chat with him last season in First Niagara Center about NHL realignment, when news broke the Jets were going to remain in the Eastern Conference again this season, and he was hugely impressive.

Canadiens goalie Carey Price, speaking Saturday to Montreal Gazette writer Dave Stubbs about whether there will be a season: "There's got to be. We've got to. Why wouldn't we? [NHL hockey] was growing so much, it was at an all-time high. If we don't play this year, it's going to hurt everybody."

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Sabres' Miller explains his side of verbal encounter with Bruins' Jacobs; 'wanted more than anything to make a deal'

Ryan
Donald Fehr and Ryan Miller leave the Westin in New York early Friday morning (Getty Images).

Before the entire NHL negotiation fell off the cliff Thursday, one of the biggest pieces of news that came from Wednesday's meetings was a heated exchange between Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs.

The Toronto Star reported Miller "angrily vented" when Jacobs and the owners threatened to pull everything off the table. Sportsnet.ca wrote Miller "lost his temper briefly."

In a text to The Buffalo News today, Miller explained his version of the events:

"The owners wanted to leave the room and pull everything we spent a full day on. I asked them to stay and continue pushing through. I may have been passionate but there was no disrespect or calling out one owner by name. I have a lot of respect for any owner because they are a big part of hockey.
 
"I wanted more than anything to make a deal but we are not professional negotiators. We as players didn't have the experience or authority to make a final deal. We were trying to responsibly move this process forward as best we could. If anyone thinks that we did wrong by the game or by the fans then they are misinformed. We have a responsibility to about 750 players and we made moves approved by them and thinking about them."

---John Vogl

Must-hear audio: Bettman and Fehr (twice) news conferences

It's possible you'll never hear Gary Bettman more irate. It's possible you'll never hear someone so positive (Donald Fehr) get his bubble burst so fast. So here they are, the audio files of the Bettman and Fehr news conferences.

The first Fehr file is his 6:45 p.m. description of the players' offer, which supposedly brought the sides so close that it "should be able to complete an agreement." The second is less than a half-hour later after he learned the NHL said no and pulled all parts of its proposals off the table.

A bit of warning: You'll hear me type throughout as I live-tweeted their comments. Also, you'll hear a laugh of astonishment when Bettman berates Fehr. (Not picking sides, just couldn't help myself. Bettman is in a class by himself when it comes to condescending remarks.)

And a special thanks to TSN Radio 1050 AM in Toronto for carrying the New York news conferences live.

---John Vogl

Gary Bettman

Donald Fehr 1

Donald Fehr 2

NHL, NHLPA talks come to crashing halt; league pulls everything off the table

To say National Hockey League labor negotiations crashed and burned Thursday night would be like saying the Titanic is running a little behind schedule. With an irate commissioner speaking in front of an incredulous group of players, the lockout-delayed 2012-13 season moved closer to being a never-played 2012-13 season.

Talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association imploded in shocking fashion in New York. At precisely the moment NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr was saying how close the sides were thanks a new proposal by the players, his brother – union special counsel Steve Fehr – received a voicemail from the league saying it was pulling its entire offer off the table and no negotiations would be held for the rest of the week.

“I am disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in New York. “We’re going to have to take a deep breath and try and regroup.”

The NHL has already canceled games through next Friday, and it is expected to eliminate at least the rest of December today. Since the sides are essentially back to Square One, it’s possible the league could ax even more than that.

“It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” Donald Fehr said in Manhattan. “It comes as a disappointment, obviously.”

The sides have been far apart throughout the process, and that was never more evident than during Fehr’s first news conference of the night.

A large union contingent, which included Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, offered its proposal to a pair of league representatives during a one-hour meeting that began at 5 p.m. Fehr, with players standing behind him in a Manhattan hotel, explained the benefits of the proposal at about 6:45 p.m. He was beyond confident.

“We hope and believe and expect that this should put us on the road for a quick end to this dispute,” he said.

Before all the participants had even left the news conference, Steve Fehr retrieved his message. Shock and bewilderment filled the room.

“We feel like it should have been taken as a step toward ending this,” Miller, who had just left to catch a flight home to California, told The Buffalo News via text message. “How many concessions can we make?”

League members were asking themselves the same thing.

“We kept negotiating against ourselves,” Bettman said. "Anything that we put on the table this week is off the table."

The sides had resumed negotiations Tuesday with a new dynamic. Six owners met with 18 players as Bettman and Donald Fehr stayed on the sidelines. The first day of talks featured partnership and camaraderie.

“That sense of optimism, though, was something that almost inexplicably disappeared Wednesday afternoon when the four owners returned to the bargaining process,” Bettman said. “We’re at a loss to explain what happened, but things were not of the same tone as they had been on Tuesday.”

The nearly nine hours of talks Wednesday featured arguments and offers that were widely off the mark. Owners were set to walk away before being persuaded to stay by the players.

“Negotiations were spirited and passionate at times but certainly not contentious,” Miller said via text. “A lot of respect was paid to the owners for good reason.”

The league closed Wednesday’s meeting with a formal proposal. Their version of a collective bargaining agreement would be 10 years in length, feature a five-year limit on contracts (seven years if a team was re-signing its own player) and included a $100 million increase in “make-whole” dollars, which would reimburse players for money they’d lose as the sides transitioned from an economic system that had players earning 57 percent of the revenues to a 50-50 split.

“[Thursday] we were expecting an answer, a yes or a no,” Bettman said. “Our instructions from ownership was … if the answer was no, there was no point in continuing discussions.

“The answer wasn’t yes.”

Rather than accept or decline the league’s proposal, the union crafted a counteroffer that Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said “cherry-picked” bits and pieces that the players liked. The parts the union liked were only available if it accepted the 10-year term and five-year limit on contract lengths.

“Those moves were contingent on the union specifically agreeing on other things,” Bettman said. “This collective bargaining agreement is a total package.”

The union’s offer included the NHL concessions but asked for an eight-year term (with a opt-out clause after six years) and an eight-year limit on contracts.

“This is a package and everything fits together,” said Bettman, who had several players filter into his news conference and stand in the back of the room. “Spinning us all into an emotional frenzy over maybe we’re close and we’re going to be playing hockey tomorrow is terribly unfair to our fans and this process.”

Said Toronto owner Larry Tanenbaum: “I am very disappointed and disillusioned. Had I not experienced this process myself, I might not have believed it. Like all hockey fans, I am hopeful this situation can be resolved as soon as possible. I miss our game."

---John Vogl

Fehr says NHL rejects union's proposal

Donald Fehr says the NHL has rejected the proposal put forth by the NHL Players' Association.

"We were advised in a voicemail message that the move that we made was unacceptable," Fehr told reporters in New York.

Fehr said the NHL has taken some of its offers off the table and will not negotiate tonight or Friday.

"I think this deal should be close if they are reasonable and acknowledge the concessions we have made," Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said via text. "Can't help their reaction. We feel like it should have been taken as a step toward ending this. How many concessions can we make?"

---John Vogl

NHLPA's Donald Fehr: 'Should be able to complete an agreement'

Donald Fehr says the end of the lockout should be in sight.

The NHL Players' Association has offered a "comprehensive proposal" to the NHL, Fehr said tonight, and the union executive director feels it should be enough to end the lockout.

"We think there is a complete agreement on dollars," Fehr told reporters in New York. "If that's the case, and we think it is .. should be able to complete an agreement."

The union met with league representatives from 5 to 6 p.m., and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and legal counsel Bob Batterman went back to the league's hotel to discuss the proposal. The union is awaiting the league's response.

Fehr said the union:

*Offered an eight-year collective bargaining agreement, with an opt-out clause after six;

*Offered a limit of eight years on contracts;

*Offered a contract variance in which the lowest salary of a multiyear deal must equal at least 25 percent of the highest year;

*Agreed to the NHL's make-whole proposal of $300 million.

"We hope and believe and expect that this should put us on the road for a quick end to this dispute," Fehr said. "The players have gone a very, very long way. ... The players have done far and away the lions' share of the movement here."

---John Vogl

NHLPA requests mediators rejoin negotiations

The NHL Players' Association is bringing union leader Donald Fehr back to the negotiating table, and he hopes he'll have company.

The union has requested that mediators return to the bargaining process, according to multiple reports. The NHL and the players met with members of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for two days last week, but the deal brokers were unable to find common ground for the dueling parties.

The league has not yet agreed to the request.

The mediators are located in Washington and would need to travel to New York, where players and owners have been meeting since Tuesday.

The sides are scheduled to resume negotiations today but have not yet done so. [UPDATE: The meeting began at 5 p.m.] The union reportedly is willing to talk today even without the mediators in attendance.

When talks resume, the leaders of the respective parties will be in attendance. Six owners and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met with up to 19 players and union special counsel Steve Fehr the past two days, with Commissioner Gary Bettman and Don Fehr on the sidelines. The players want Fehr back in the room, and Bettman will certainly join the owners.

TSN's Darren Dreger reports that two league negotiators, Toronto owner Larry Tanenbaum and Winnipeg owner Mark Chipman, have left New York.

---John Vogl

Reports: NHL moves on 'make whole,' free agency; NHLPA wants Fehr back in room

More NHL negotiation details emerged overnight from New York, where players and owners met until 1 a.m. Among them, according to multiple reporters in Manhattan:

*The NHL has increased its contribution on the "make whole" provision to $300 million, up from $211 million. The NHLPA's previous request was $383 million, putting the sides approximately in the middle. But the Canadian Press reports the dollar amount is tied to other pieces of the NHL's proposal, which could continue to make financial negotiations tricky despite the apparent closeness of the sides.

*The league wants a 10-year CBA, with TSN's Bob McKenzie reporting there would be an out clause after eight years.

(As I mentioned during negotiations, I find it interesting NHL wants 10-year CBA. The league is the one who opted to end last CBA after seven years. It must feel it's closed all loopholes.)

*The NHL has offered to retain the previous thresholds for free agency, keeping them at age 27 or seven years of service, down from their request of 28 and eight.

*The league, however, is steadfast in its desire to limit contracts to five years and permit only a yearly 5 percent variance on players' salaries. The NHL has offered to permit teams to give their own free agents a seven-year contract. The union is against term limits.

*According to ESPN.com, the NHL Players' Association wants a change in the negotiating format. For the past two days, six owners and up to 19 players have done the negotiating, with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr also present. The players, according to ESPN sources, want to eliminate restrictions and allow Executive Director Donald Fehr (and by extension, Commissioner Gary Bettman) back to the table.

The sides will reconvene this afternoon.

*According to the Toronto Star and Sportsnet.ca, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller "angrily vented" and "lost his temper briefly" as the negotiations grew more and more intense. The Star also reported that Bruins owner and Buffalo native Jeremy Jacobs almost led a walkout by the owners.

(It's an emotional negotiation impacting the livelihood and pocketbooks of competitive individuals, so of course there will be drama.)

"We had good, candid dialogue," Daly told reporters in New York at 1:30 a.m. "There continue to be critical open issues between the two parties."

---John Vogl

Players, owners finally wrap up talks just before 1 a.m., plan to meet again Thursday

While nearly everyone in the NHL was quiet, including Commissioner Gary Bettman, a select group of players and owners began talking Wednesday afternoon and continued well into Thursday morning. They formally exchanged ideas for a new collective bargaining agreement.

It’s unclear how much progress they made.

“We had a series of meetings today, very candid discussion, and we plan on meeting again tomorrow,” Winnipeg’s Ron Hainsey said to reporters in New York just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

About a half-hour later, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters that after the candid dialogue some critical issues still remained.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing," Bettman said during an afternoon news conference that lasted 24 seconds. “Out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say."

Six owners and 19 players spoke to each other and internally from afternoon till night till morning, breaking for dinner as speculation swirled about their conferences.

"We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal," Toronto owner Larry Tanenbaum, who was one of the half-dozen league representatives, told reporters following a midday board of governors meeting. “All I can say is as long as we're talking we're hopeful."

The negotiating group, which included Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, talked for 7½ hours Tuesday but did not formally make offers. That changed Wednesday.

The NHL Players’ Association made a proposal in the afternoon, according to multiple reports. The league countered early in the evening, according to ESPN.com.

At about 8:45 p.m., following their two-hour dinner break, the owners returned to the meeting room. They stayed for less than 15 minutes and departed for another internal discussion, according to reports. They returned 15 minutes later.

The owners departed again at 10 p.m., rejoined the players an hour later and left again at 11:30 p.m. Meetings then continued well into the morning with smaller groups, reports said.

While they talked, reporters noticed an NHL lectern being set up for a news conference.

The suspense as to why added to the intensity of the day. A new CBA needs to be reached by Friday or more games are expected to be canceled. The schedule has already been wiped out through Dec. 14.

While Miller took part in negotiations, Sabres owner Terry Pegula, President Ted Black and General Manager Darcy Regier attended the board of governors meeting. Bettman described the two-hour session as “basically an update.”

"We feel good about the information we got," Columbus Blue Jackets President John Davidson told reporters.

Black, via email, declined comment. The NHL has threatened substantial fines for team employees who talk about the lockout.

It was unclear whether the meetings would extend into today, but the schedule is now open.

The sides were supposed to appear in front of the Quebec Labour Relations Board today and Friday, but because of the increased talks in New York they agreed to postpone the hearing. The NHLPA, led by members of the Montreal Canadiens, filed suit with the labor board in September to have the lockout declared illegal in the province.

---John Vogl

Players, owners talk late into night for second straight day

While nearly everyone in the NHL was quiet, including Commissioner Gary Bettman, a select group of players and owners continued to talk and negotiate Wednesday. They even formally exchanged ideas for a new collective bargaining agreement.

It’s unclear how much progress they made. Their talks in New York went late into the night for the second straight day.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing," Bettman said during an afternoon news conference that lasted 24 seconds. “Out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say."

Six owners and 19 players spoke to each other and internally from afternoon until night, breaking for dinner as speculation swirled about their conferences.

"We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal," Toronto owner Larry Tanenbaum, who was one of the half-dozen league representatives, told reporters following a midday board of governors meeting. “All I can say is as long as we're talking we're hopeful."

The negotiating group, which included Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, talked for 7½ hours Tuesday but did not formally make offers. That changed Wednesday.

The NHL Players’ Association made a proposal in the afternoon, according to multiple reports. The league countered early in the evening, according to ESPN.com.

At about 8:45 p.m., following their two-hour dinner break, the owners returned to the meeting room. They stayed for less than 15 minutes and departed for another internal discussion, according to reports. They returned 15 minutes later.

The owners departed again at 10 p.m., rejoined the players an hour later then left at 11:30 p.m.

While they talked, reporters noticed an NHL lectern being set up for a news conference.

The suspense as to why added to the intensity of the day. A new CBA needs to be reached by Friday or more games are expected to be canceled. The schedule has already been wiped out through Dec. 14.

While Miller took part in negotiations, Sabres owner Terry Pegula, President Ted Black and General Manager Darcy Regier attended the board of governors meeting. Bettman described the two-hour session as “basically an update.”

"We feel good about the information we got," Columbus Blue Jackets President John Davidson told reporters.

Black, via email, declined comment. The NHL has threatened substantial fines for team employees who talk about the lockout.

It was unclear whether the meetings would extend into Thursday, but the schedule is now open.

The sides were supposed to appear in front of the Quebec Labour Relations Board on Thursday and Friday, but because of the increased talks in New York they agreed to postpone the hearing. The NHLPA, led by members of the Montreal Canadiens, filed suit with the labor board in September to have the lockout declared illegal in the province.

---John Vogl

Reports: NHL, NHLPA formally exchange ideas

The conversations between players and owners have reportedly turned into negotiations.

During their second straight day of meetings with NHL owners in New York, members of the NHL Players' Association submitted an offer on key collective bargaining points, according to multiple reports. The owners left for internal meetings and returned this evening with a counteroffer, according to ESPN.com.

Earlier today, following a board of governors meeting, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he was pleased with the direction of talks.

---John Vogl

MSG to air Sabres' finale in Aud, followed by premiere of 'Rafters Club' sitdown

Sabres fans can once again say to the Aud, "Farewell, old friend."

The replay of classic games from Buffalo's history continues Monday on MSG with the April 1996 season finale against Hartford, which marked the last game in Memorial Auditorium. Pat LaFontaine ceremoniously turned out the lights with a final postgame goal, and he will provide commentary throughout the broadcast, which begins at 8 p.m.

Following the two-hour telecast will be the premiere of "Buffalo Sabres: Rafters Club Roundtable." Sabres broadcaster Brian Duff sat down last month with the four living players who have their numbers retired in the rafters: LaFontaine, Gilbert Perreault, Danny Gare and Rene Robert.

---John Vogl

Bettman: 'Pleased with the process that is ongoing'

Gary Bettman, in an update that lasted 24 seconds, said this afternoon he is pleased with the direction talks are going between the NHL and its players' association.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing," Bettman said in New York, "and out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say."

Resuming the talks that began Tuesday, six owners and 20 players (up from 18) are scheduled to meet again this afternoon. Neither Bettman nor union Executive Director Donald Fehr will take part. The NHL Players' Association today added Chris Campoli and Daniel Winnik to its list of players.

It is not known whether either side will present a formal proposal.

Bettman today presided over a two-hour board of governors meeting and described it as "basically an update."

---John Vogl

Players, owners set to chat again this afternoon after NHL board meeting

The second day of meetings between NHL players and owners will begin this afternoon because the sides spent the morning meeting internally.

The 24 negotiators who met for 7 1/2 hours Tuesday will gather again in New York after the NHL conducts its board of governors meeting, which was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Sabres owner Terry Pegula, team President Ted Black and General Manager Darcy Regier were expected to attend.

The six owners and 18 players, including Buffalo's Ryan Miller, were originally planning to sit down prior to the board meeting. But Yahoo! Sports' Nick Cotsonika reports the players' asscociation "has something" for the owners and didn't want to rush through it. It's possible the NHLPA is readying a new proposal.

A collective bargaining agreement needs to be reached this week or more games will be canceled.

---John Vogl

Video: Daly, Steve Fehr wrap up long day with cautious optimism

Six owners and 18 players, including Buffalo's Ryan Miller, talked for more than 7 1/2 hours Tuesday in what's regarded as the best day yet of the lockout. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr held a joint news conference just after midnight following the conclusion of talks.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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