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NHL Owners, Players Meet Again on Labor Issues

  • New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

    New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

  • New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 7-6. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 7-6. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
  • New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 7-6. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York — Negotiations between hockey owners and players are going so well that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says he’s “pleased with the process” — even if he has been left outside the latest rounds of discussions.

Still stuck on the perimeter with players’ association executive director Donald Fehr, Bettman made a brief statement yesterday on the state of the ongoing lockout after the league’s board of governors met for about two hours.

Bettman declined to take any questions as he stood at an NHL podium in a Manhattan hotel, just one floor away from where talks resumed for a second straight day. A ray of hope that a season-saving deal could be made emerged late Tuesday night after about eight hours of bargaining.

“We are pleased with the process that is ongoing, and out of respect for that process I don’t have anything else to say,” Bettman said.

Some executives spoke briefly as they scurried on New York streets and hopped into cars after the board of governors meeting. No details emerged, but the mood seemed positive.

“We feel good about the information we got,” new Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson said.

Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the six owners participating in these negotiations, also painted an optimistic picture as he walked the few blocks back to the hotel hosting the meetings.

“We’re going to continue to talk up until we get a deal,” said Tanenbaum, who added there is more clarity on both sides where each group stands. “All I can say is as long as we’re talking we’re hopeful.”

If a breakthrough can be made soon, the delayed and shortened hockey season could get going quickly.

Football

Jets Stick With Sanchez

New York — Coach Rex Ryan is sticking with Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback.

The team announced yesterday that Sanchez, benched last Sunday against Arizona, will get the start over Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow when the Jets play the Jaguars at Jacksonville.

Sanchez was pulled late in the third quarter, and McElroy came in and led the Jets to the only touchdown of the game on his first NFL drive and helped New York to a 7-6 victory. Sanchez was 10 of 21 for 97 yards and three interceptions, while McElroy was 5 of 7 for 29 yards.

Cal Hires Coach

Berkeley, Calif. — California hired Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes to take over for the fired Jeff Tedford. Dykes had a 22-15 record with the Bulldogs, averaging 35.9 points and 452.5 yards per game in his tenure. He takes over a Cal team that went 3-9 this past season and missed a bowl for the second time in three years.

Women’s Hoop

No. 3 Baylor 73
No. 5 Notre Dame 61

South Bend, Ind. — Brittney Griner had 24 points and 14 rebounds, three other Baylor players scored in double figures and the third-ranked Lady Bears beat No. 5 Notre Dame in a repeat of last season’s national championship game.

The Fighting Irish (5-1) could do little to slow Griner as the Lady Bears (7-1), who have all five starters back from the team that went 40-0 last season, used a 10-0 run late in the second half to pull away.

Soccer

Messi Injured

Barcelona, Spain — Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent knee injury as Barcelona was held to a 0-0 tie by Benfica in a Champions League match last night.

With Barcelona already assured of advancing to the second round, Messi entered as a reserve in the 58th minute. The three-time FIFA Player of the Year collided with Benfica goalkeeper Artur in the 85th minute and was in obvious pain from his left knee.

Auto Racing

Stewart Passes on Indy 500

Indianapolis — Tony Stewart has passed up a chance to race for Roger Penske in the Indianapolis 500.

The three-time NASCAR champion said yesterday at the International Motorsports Industry Show that he wouldn’t attempt to race in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Penske extended the invitation last week in Las Vegas while accepting the Sprint Cup trophy.

Later, when given the chance to shrug it off as a lighthearted moment with Stewart, Penske insisted he was very serious.

There has been a push to get Stewart to race in Indianapolis since Penske made the offer, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting an online petition for fans to encourage the driver to accept the ride.

Stewart has raced five times in the Indy 500, starting from the pole as a rookie in 1996 and leading 44 laps before his engine failed. His highest finish was fifth in 1997.