The Columbus Blue Jackets are still planning to open the pre-season a week from Monday, but it's not at all clear the NHL and the players union will be able to iron out differences on a new contract.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight Saturday. Players Association head Donald Fehr says extensive negotiations since Wednesday morning have yielded no results. And he says the fate of the season is in the leagues hands.
Fehr: We approach it as we always have: one day at a time. If you don't find an agreement today, you hope tomorrow you'll find a way to make an agreement and if that doesn't work you get up the next day and think about it some more. If it comes to that it was a choice that was made... or is being made as we speak. It's not a requirement, it's not something that anybody has to do. If that's the way it's gonna be, then unfortunately that's the way it's gonna be.
The two sides remain deadlocked over splitting hockey-related revenue. Columbus Blue Jackets players have been trickling back into town for training; if a contract is hammered out, the team takes to the ice to start the season September 24th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Failed contract talks in 2004 led to a lockout that scrapped the entire season.