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NHL, UNION RETURN TO NEGOTIATIONS

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With one club president suspecting it is too late the save the season, negotiators for the NHL and union are going back to the bargaining table.

The two sides have agreed to resume talks today or Thursday, although NHL spokesman Arthur Pincus would not say Tuesday night where they will be held. The last time the parties met was in Chicago last week."I don't think we have that much time," said Tony Tavares, president of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. "My gut sense is that it it too late."

The talks will be held on an informal, though official, basis and not involve the full bargaining committees.

The new round of negotiations comes with the lockout in its 75th day, and two days after the owners rejected the players' latest offer.

The NHL's board of governors held an emergency meeting in New York on Monday and authorized NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to cancel the whole schedule if he thinks a season can't be salvaged. Bettman has said there is a window of a week to 10 days to strike a deal.

The season is already down to 60 games, each team's schedule slashed by 24 games. The league has suggested that 50 games would constitute a season of some consequence.

Given a desired 10-day training camp, a contract would have to be settled before Christmas to ensure a start-up date early in January and a 50-game season.