NEW YORK — The NHL and the players association seemingly had a good day on Friday as they returned to the negotiating table.
It just wasn't good enough to bring the sides all that much closer to the end of the lockout that threatens the start of the hockey regular season.
The league and the union bargained for the first time since players were locked out Sept. 16, and the sides discussed secondary issues without broaching the big economic divide that really is the essence of the dispute.
"It was a good day," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said after the second negotiating session of the day. "I wish we had spent today on what we consider to be the more meaningful issues, but it is what it is."
The sides were together for a total of about five hours — including a private meeting between commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Donald Fehr.
A handful of players also took part in the talks.
The groups agreed on issues related to player safety and drug testing, areas that weren't expected to be contentious. They plan to get back together today and Sunday.
"I don't know if I would say significant, but we did seem to make some progress on a number of things. Hopefully we will continue," NHL Players Association special counsel Steve Fehr said. "There is no plan right now to discuss core economic issues."
THOMPSON'S HOME TRYOUT: Lightning center Nate Thompson signed a professional tryout contract with the Alaska Aces, an ECHL team based in his hometown of Anchorage. The contract is good only for training camp, which began Friday.
Thompson, 27, who had nine goals and 15 points in 68 games last season and was Tampa Bay's best penalty killer, must sign a standard player contract to play during the regular season. He said that is the plan.
"I plan on playing here until the labor dispute is over," Thompson said of the lockout.
The Aces, who are not affiliated with an NHL team, also signed Canadiens center and Anchorage native Scott Gomez to a tryout contract and Capitals right wing Joey Crabb to a standard player contract.
NASH DINGED UP: Rangers forward Rick Nash, playing for Swiss club Davos during the lockout, left Friday's game after his shoulder took a hit into the boards, ESPN reported. The extent of his injury was unknown.
SIGNINGS: Islanders forward John Tavares agreed to join Swiss club Bern, and Jets forward Evander Kane signed with Dinamo Minsk of Belarus, which plays in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, for the duration of the lockout, ESPN.com reported.
JURISPRUDENCE: Former player Michael McBain faces prison time and sex offender registration after taking a plea deal in Nevada in a case alleging he sexually assaulted a girl under 14 over a four-year period, authorities said. McBain, 35, of Las Vegas pleaded guilty Thursday in Clark County District Court to reduced felony charges of attempted sexual assault and attempted lewdness with a child, prosecutor Alexandra Chrysanthis said.
Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.