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NHL, players still seeking deal

Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman angrily took all of the league's offers off the bargaining table.

On Wednesday, he put them back on it, according to Sportsnet of Canada.

Still, the NHL and the players' union could not reach an agreement and resolve their labor dispute.

It was the first time they met since negotiations abruptly ended last Thursday.

The players aren't ready to accept the NHL's take-it-or-leave it proposal,which includes a 10-year CBA, a maximum of five years on player contracts (with no more than a 5% variance each year) and compliance issues.

Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, told reporters the sides were in separate rooms all day, and that the players were working on something "right now."

Federal mediators met with both sides during the 6 1/2 hours of meetings in Iselin, N.J.

Wednesday was the 88th day of the lockout, and the sides are close on several major issues. But they must find common ground on "transition" issues _ such as setting the teams' maximum salary cap, and whether to include an amnesty buyout this season.

Bettman said teams must play a 48-game season to preserve the league's integrity. Assuming the regular season still ended on April 13, the first games would have to be played by around Jan. 5 in order to have at least a 48-game season.

For that to happen, a deal would have to be in place by Christmas, thus giving players time to return from Europe and have a short training camp.

(more coming)