NEW YORK (AP) -- After more than two weeks apart and the hockey season hanging in the balance, the NHL and the players' association are returning to the bargaining table Saturday after more than two weeks off.
The hope of a full season being played is already gone, and so is the popular New Year's Day Winter Classic. If real progress isn't made soon, the NHL could be looking at its second lost campaign since 2004.
For the first time since Oct. 18, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and players' association special counsel Steve Fehr agreed to meet at a secret location Saturday afternoon. The two have been talking by phone during the week and found enough common ground to get together face-to-face.
The lockout reached its 49th day Saturday, but at least there is a glimmer of optimism the season can be saved. There have already been 327 games canceled -- including the outdoor Winter Classic that was wiped out Friday -- and the NHL has said it will be impossible to play a full season.