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Hockey • The NHL and the players' association seemingly had a good day on Friday as they returned to the negotiating table.
It just wasn't good enough to bring the sides all that much closer to the end of the lockout that threatens the start of the hockey regular season.
The league and the union got back to bargaining for the first time since players were locked out on Sept. 16, and the sides discussed secondary issues without broaching the big economic divide that really is the essence of the dispute.
"It was a good day," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday night after the second negotiating session of the day. "I wish we had spent today on what we consider to be the more meaningful issues, but it is what it is."
The sides were together for a total of about five hours including a private meeting between Commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Donald Fehr.
A handful of players also took part in the talks.
The groups agreed on issues related to player safety and drug testing, areas that weren't expected to be contentious. They will get back together on Saturday morning, and plan to meet on Sunday, too, but the topics of discussion still don't seem to include the big dollar issues.
"I don't know if I would say significant, but we did seem to make some progress on a number of things. Hopefully we will continue," NHL Players' Association special counsel Steve Fehr said. "There is no plan right now to discuss core economic issues."
And that is where the frustration lies. The NHL is waiting for the players' association to make a counterproposal to one the league made to the union in the previous bargaining session more than two weeks ago.
"We can't make them talk about what they don't want to talk about," Daly said. "In fairness, we do have to cover these issues if we're going to reach an agreement. What we're doing today is important, it's just not the most important things we can be doing.
"We've made at least two consecutive moves in significant dollars in their direction, and they haven't moved a single dollar in our direction since Aug. 4."
Graham Zusi's two goals lift Sporting KC over Fire
Soccer • Graham Zusi scored two goals, and Sporting Kansas City clinched a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over Chicago.
Jimmy Nielsen had to make one save to record his league-leading 14th shutout for Sporting (17-7-7), which extended its unbeaten streak to nine matches and widened its Eastern Conference lead to five points over the Fire. Sporting had not won against Chicago at home since a 3-2 victory on Aug. 22, 2007.
Chicago (16-8-7) had a four-match winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in nine games.
Zusi put Sporting up 1-0 in the 11th minute, running onto Kei Kamara's cross and one-timing the ball past Sean Johnson. He scored unassisted in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, working his way free and slotting the ball home just seconds from the final whistle.
Chicago manager Frank Klopas and Fire defender Gonzalo Segares were both ejected in second-half stoppage time, Klopas drawing a straight red card from referee Chris Penso and Segares picking up his second caution. Both will be suspended for Chicago's next match, on Wednesday at home against Philadelphia.
From wire reports