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NHL and players' association to meet face-to-face Monday

The NHL and its players’ association appear ready to get back to the bargaining table for the first time in weeks.

The union says the plan is for the sides to meet face-to-face Monday morning, marking the first real negotiations since the sides met with a mediator on December 13.

The talks come after a weekend of conference calls and last-ditch proposal efforts.

Time to save a season is running out, as Commissioner Gary Bettman has already said he won’t compromise the integrity of the game by having less than 48-game schedule.

Many consider this latest proposal a last chance to salvage any season, as the lockout has seen all regular season games cancelled through January 14.

One of the biggest issues for the union is a proposed salary cap of $60 million in 2013-2014. That would severely limit the amount of money available for free agents this coming summer.

As part of the NHL’s proposal this week, Bettman told the union that an agreement would have to be in place by Jan. 11, according to sources. That would allow training camps to open Jan. 12 and the puck to be dropped for the season on Jan. 19.

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