While the stalemate continues between the NHL and NHLPA, there has been one encouraging sign of late. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr met for dinner Wednesday night.
"Steve and I had dinner last night and conversed on a whole range of subjects," Daly told ESPN.com via email Thursday. "I think it's safe to say that we are both trying to find ways in which we might be able to meaningfully advance the process."
Although it is not an uncommon occurrence -- the two have dined together often throughout the negotiation process (insert joke about how they split the check here) -- it is a sign that there is an open line of communication between the two camps as a lockout looms.
No further meetings have been scheduled yet, but there is expected to be more informal dialogue between the league and the union over the next few days. Although there are no guarantees talks will resume soon, both sides will be active next week.
The NHLPA will hold two days of player meetings in New York, while the Board of Governors will convene Thursday. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to seek the green light from the owners to impose a lockout. Bettman has stated the league's intent to do so if no deal is reached when the current collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15.
The two sides had been in discussions for two months when talks broke down Aug. 31. With less than two weeks before the NHL's lockout deadline, there remains a significant gap between the league and the union on the core economic issues of a new deal.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun contributed to this report.