The NHL announced the cancellation of more games on Thursday, this time through Jan. 14, as time is running out to salvage a season.
Amid speculation the league has set mid-January as a deadline to either get a new collective bargaining agreement in place or cancel the entire season, the league predictably canceled more games with the labor impasse at yet another standstill.
In total, 625 regular-season games, or 50.8 percent of the entire schedule, has been canceled.
"I don't want to characterize what today's cancellations mean or don't mean," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email. "I will stand on the announcement that was made."
The league and players' association representatives haven't met face to face since Dec. 13 when talks involving mediators failed to deliver any progress.
More news will come Friday when voting wraps up among the 700-plus players who were asked by the NHLPA's executive board for authorization to file a disclaimer of interest in order to dissolve the union and attempt to have the lockout deemed illegal. Whether the executive board will file a disclaimer remains to be seen but it has until Jan. 2 if it gets a "yes" vote from players Friday.
In the meantime, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told reporters in Toronto before an NHLPA charity game Wednesday night that his side is ready to resume bargaining whenever the league agrees to meet again.
"We have to find a way to have discussions because it's very hard to come to an agreement if you're not talking to one another," Fehr said. "It's very hard to come to an agreement if you set pre-conditions to the negotiations, too."
In an email to ESPN.com on Wednesday night, Daly said the league would meet with the NHLPA again but only if the conditions were right.
"We haven't said we won't meet, but we certainly would want to know what the agenda is and how they intend to proceed," Daly said.
During a news conference on Dec. 6 in New York after talks broke up again, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested that anything less than a 48-game season would not be acceptable. Given that the league has said it is willing to push a season into late June, a 48-game season would likely have to begin around the third week of January.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.