TORONTO - Pessimism is growing around the NHL's stalled collective bargaining talks.
With no future negotiations scheduled, the league is getting close to another round of game cancellations that will further shorten any potential season.
Asked on Thursday if the labour dispute had put the entire year in jeopardy, deputy commissioner Bill Daly replied "I hope not."
"But I'm more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process," Daly added.
The league and NHL Players' Association appeared to be putting on a push to make an agreement last week when they met over six consecutive days in New York.
However, Friday's bargaining session ended with a heated exchange and talks only lasted about an hour on Sunday afternoon before breaking off.
The 61-day lockout has already claimed 327 regular-season games and more are scheduled to go on the chopping block early next week.
The Jan. 27 all-star game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus is also expected to soon join the Winter Classic by being wiped off the schedule.
Earlier this week, NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr indicated that he thought a new CBA could be completed quickly once a breakthrough was made.
It doesn't appear to be forthcoming. Fehr acknowledged that the union and league remained split on three major issues: the division of money, player contract rights and who pays for the damage caused by the lockout.
The lack of progress in talks has started raising fears that the NHL might lose another year to a labour dispute.
Even though the 2004-05 season was cancelled by commissioner Gary Bettman on Feb. 16, it's believed the league wouldn't put the decision off that long if the 2012-13 season is to meet the same fate.