A grouping of six NHL owners and 18 players met through the afternoon and into the night on Tuesday without either commissioner Gary Bettman or union chief Donald Fehr in attendance.
"I appreciate the efforts of the players, in particular we had 18 players in there (Tuesday) and six of our owners," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said after the nearly eight-hour meeting. "I think everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so I think that's encouraging."
Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr stood side-by-side after Tuesday's meeting while making their statements to the media.
"I thought it was a constructive day, we had a good dialogue," Fehr said. "In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had, which isn't to paint too overly optimistic of a picture. There's still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done, but we will be back at it (Wednesday) morning."
The owners were represented by chairman of the NHL's board of governors, Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins. He was joined by Murray Edwards of the Calgary Flames, as well as Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Tampa's Jeff Vinik, Mark Chipman of the new Winnipeg franchise and Larry Tanenbaum of the Maple Leafs.
The players' contingent included Penguins captain Sidney Crosby -- who has been well-versed in and involved with negotiations since they began -- along with Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and teammate Jamal Mayers, Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, Vancouver forward Manny Malhotra, St. Louis forwards Andy McDonald and David Backes, Florida's George Parros, Rangers center Brad Richards, Tampa Bay veteran Martin St. Louis and teammate B.J. Crombeen, Los Angeles forward Kevin Westgarth, Phoenix captain Shane Doan, Pittsburgh's Craig Adams, Winnipeg defenseman Ron Hainsey, Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff, Calgary center Michael Cammalleri and Mathieu Darche.
Both sides met for more than five hours, broke in the evening, then reconvened nearly two hours later until finally resting for good shortly after midnight (et).
Bettman first suggested the idea of a face-to-face meeting between owners and players without some of the usual representatives from either side involved in the collective bargaining sessions.
The two warring factions met twice last week with the involvement of federal mediators, but the process was unsuccessful as it had been during the 2004-05 lockout.
The current work stoppage, which began Sept. 16, has already forced the cancellation of regular-season games through Dec. 14, as well as the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend.
The Board of Governors is slated to meet in Manhattan on Wednesday.