NEW YORK (AP) – Negotiations between the NHL and the players’ association will resume Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto, first in another small-group setting and then in a full bargaining session.

The sides will be getting together for the fifth straight week, a schedule they plan to keep until a new collective bargaining agreement is worked out.

Last week in Chicago, progress was reported after two small-group meetings – held without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Bob Goodenow.

That will be the dynamic on Wednesday before Bettman and Goodenow rejoin the discussions on Thursday.

It will be the first time the respective leaders are at the bargaining table since two days of marathon talks on May 19-20 that lasted 22 hours in New York.

That marked the first signs of progress since the lockout started last September and forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

More headway was made last week, part of the tedious process.

The sides are trying to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with a salary cap.

As has been the case since before the lockout began, the league and the players’ association are trying to find common ground on the idea of a cap. The sides have agreed to have one, now it’s just a matter of agreeing on how it should work and the upper and lower limits of each team.

Working off an April 4 concept offered by the players’ association, the league and union are looking to develop a system with an upper cap that could move each year depending on revenues.

AP-ES-05-30-05 1740EDT

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