Whether federal mediators will provide enough help to end the NHL lockout in time to save the hockey season is still unknown.
At least they had a good first day.
Negotiators from the NHL and the players’ association returned to the bargaining table Wednesday for the first time in a week and the first time with outside voices contributing to the talks.
The location was secret, and so was what was discussed, but the talks went well enough that the sides will be back at the negotiating table Thursday.
‘‘No comments,’’ was all NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly would say Wednesday night in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr issued a short statement, saying: ‘‘A small group of NHLPA staff and players met today with two experienced FMCS mediators. We expect that these discussions will resume on Thursday.’’
It was the first meeting between the sides since a get-together that lasted just over two hours last week in New York after the locked-out players’ association made a new comprehensive proposal that was quickly rejected by the NHL.
The sides agreed Monday to use the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. George Cohen, the service’s director, assigned deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh and director of mediation services John Sweeney to the negotiations. Beckenbaugh and Sweeney met separately with the two sides before talks began in full Wednesday.
It wasn’t immediately known how long negotiations went on before they ended in the early evening.
In the previous meeting last week, Fehr said the sides were $182 million apart in a five-year deal, which comes to $1.2 million annually for each of the 30 teams.
Devils’ Henrique hurt
Devils center Adam Henrique is going to have a procedure to repair a ligament in his left thumb after being hurt playing for the team’s AHL affiliate.
Albany Devils general manager Chris Lamoriello said Henrique will have a procedure on his ulmar collateral ligament Thursday. He is expected to be sidelined up to six weeks.
The 22-year-old had 16 goals and 35 assists as a rookie last season. He added five goals and eight assists in the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals, including three game-winning goals.
Coyotes sale close
Greg Jamison took a big step toward completing his deal to buy the Phoenix Coyotes.
All that’s left is one last hurdle.
Glendale’s City Council approved a reworked arena lease deal with Jamison late Tuesday night, clearing the way for the former San Jose Sharks CEO to buy the team from the NHL.
The council voted 4-2 in favor of a 20-year, $320 million arena management deal with Jamison, with a stipulation that he must complete his purchase of the team by Jan. 31, 2013.
Leafs crack $1 billion
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the first NHL team worth $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, are worth $250 million more than the next most valuable franchise, the New York Rangers.
The Bruins are fifth at $348 million. The Montreal Canadiens are worth $575 million. Least valuable of the 30 teams are the St. Louis Blues at $130 million and the Coyotes at $134 million.