Board to meet April 20, window for new CBA closing

TORONTO - The NHL apparently is making plans to proceed
with a 2005-06 season, with or without its players.

According to a report on Rogers Sportsnet of Canada's website
Wednesday, commissioner Gary Bettman sent a memo inviting all 30
teams to a board of governors meeting on April 20.

Citing undisclosed sources, Sportsnet reported it is the second
memo issued by Bettman in the last several days, with the first
indicating the window of negotiation for a new collective
bargaining agreement is closing rapidly, possibly within the
next two weeks.

The league and the Players Association, who met for 90 minutes
on Friday, are expected to gather again Thursday. It will be
just the second meeting since February 19, three days after
Bettman officially announced the cancellation of the 2004-05

While one NHL executive claimed Thursday's sessions is nothing
more than "a step towards impasse," the board of governors
meeting is believed to be a forum for Bettman to outline a plan to
use replacement players in 2005-06 should a new CBA not be
reached in the near future.

On February 16, the NHL became the first major North American
sports league to lose an entire season due to a labor dispute.