NHL talks continue, but is there any progress?

It isn’t known what progress — if any — has been made in the second day of marathon talks in the NHL labor dispute, but owners and players surely sense that time is working against them.

Negotiations resumed Wednesday and stretched deep into the night again, this time in fits and starts, as the league and the players’ association searched for a deal to save the hockey season.

It wasn’t until midnight Tuesday that talks wrapped up, and all signs indicated Wednesday’s discussions could go as late or later. Very little information leaked out of the meeting room, but it is believed that each side submitted proposals to the other and spent lots of time apart discussing what was offered.

Cautious optimism emerged Tuesday in the first round of talks that kept NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the outside along with union executive director Donald Fehr, while six owners and about 18 players talked inside. The good feeling carried over into Wednesday morning when various team executives said they heard good reports during an NHL board of governors meeting.


AUSTRALIAN OPEN: John Senden shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to take the early lead at Sydney, with Englishman Justin Rose two strokes back along with Kim Felton.

Adam Scott opened with a 72. After practicing with a traditional putter during the week, Scott used his usual broom-handle putter that he anchors to his chest — a move that is expected to be banned in 2016 in a proposed rule change.

Defending champion Greg Chalmers and Tom Watson, making his first start in the event since winning in 1984, were among the afternoon starters.

PGA: Phil Mickelson said he will play in the Humana Challenge on Jan. 17-20 in La Quinta, Calif., to start his season.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Lionel Messi, grimacing in pain, was taken off the field on a cart with a bone bruise to his left knee as Barcelona was held to a 0-0 tie by Benfica.

With Barcelona already assured of advancing to the second round, Messi entered as a reserve in the 58th minute.

Messi’s left knee collided with the right hand of Benfica’s Artur as he ran onto Gerard Pique’s long pass and tried to round the goalkeeper in the 85th minute. Messi took a left-footed shot from an angle, then fell to the field in pain. He rolled onto his back and held the knee, then was loaded onto a cart.

“It’s a bruise, which doctors have been having a look at,” Barcelona Coach Tito Vilanova said. “We now have to wait for the results of tests, but the feeling is that it isn’t more serious than a knock.”


ROWING: Three-time gold medalist Drew Ginn, 38, will retire from rowing to take up a national head coaching position in the sport in Australia.

IOC: Eight years after winning Olympic medals in Athens, four track and field athletes from eastern Europe were ordered to hand them back because of positive doping tests.

Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, can hold onto his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games for a little while longer.

The IOC executive board disqualified four athletes whose Athens doping samples were retested earlier this year and came back positive for steroids, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine.

Also stripped were hammer throw silver medalist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists — women’s shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus.


GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Tori St. Pierre had 16 points, five steals and three assists to help Berwick Academy (2-1) take a 55-32 win over Newton Country Day School (0-3) in an Eastern Independent League game at Newton, Mass.

Rebecca Siegel added 14 points and Brooke Downey had 10 for the Bulldogs.

— From staff and news services