Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/20/12
Time is certainly running out on the NHL and the NHLPA to put aside their differences and work to get a deal done to save the season. The scenario continues to look grim, though, and it has some wondering if we’ll see hockey again before the fall of 2013. One man with a large stake in that process, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, doesn’t think all hope should be lost. In fact, he says there will be hockey this season. Daly and the NHL may not be talking with the players, but the commish’s right-hand man went on Hockey Night in Canada Radio on Wednesday and expressed some optimism. He was asked, straight up, whether or not there would be a season. His response was a simple, one-worded answer. “Yes.” However, the other 11 minutes leading up to that bottom-line answer were far less encouraging, if we are to believe Daly was giving an honest assessment of the situation. Negotiations are at a standstill at the moment, and Daly says the NHL is waiting for something to happen. “There does need to be a reason to meet,” he said, apparently not choosing the cancellation of a bunch of games as reason to meet. “Given where we are, somebody has to have a new idea or something new to put on the table to move the process along. … We felt we made some substantial movement in the players’ direction two weeks ago in New York. Our view is that we’ve done as much as we can do. If you have a different idea, or a different trade, even on some of the issues we talked about two weeks ago, let’s hear it.” Daly also confirmed that there is likely another cancellation of games coming. “People would like to simplify this negotiation and suggest we’re a lot closer than we are,” taking an obvious shot at the Don Fehr and the players who have repeatedly said that the broad financial details of a new deal are all but set. “We still have a significant amount of monetary differences,” he added. The deputy commissioner was not willing to say whether or not there was a cut-off date to cancel the entire season, but he referenced commissioner Gary Bettman‘s 48-game season as something the league would obviously accept. If that was the case, there is still time for a deal to be done. “I don’t think there’s any real secret to that. I don’t think setting an absolute date does any good at this point  but I think everyone knows the neighborhood which we’re talking about.” The optimistic side of media, fans and followers — a side that is likely shrinking with every passing day — are still predicting that NHL hockey will be back by mid-January. That would fit in line with the 48-game schedule. Listen to the entire interview below.
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