NEW YORK -- On what was slated to be opening day of the 2012-13 NHL regular season, the league and the union remained locked in a familiar stalemate with no end in sight.
Although the two sides met for the second straight day of negotiations Thursday, the double-session dealt only with secondary issues such as free agency and drug testing. They didn't make much headway in those areas, either. There was no discussion of the core economic issues, nor was there a meeting between the two principal players, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.
The union suggested meeting again Friday, but the league declined because of scheduling conflicts. There are no future meetings planned at this point.
"Until we're tackling the major issues, I'm not sure what the urgency is to meet on a 24/7 basis," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.
Although Daly said Wednesday the league was given notice that the union was working on a proposal, no such offer was put forth. The two sides have not traded proposals since mid-September, just days before the lockout began.
Daly said he was disheartened with the state of negotiations, especially considering the significance of the date on the calendar.
"It's a disappointment. There's no way around that," Daly said. "I certainly hoped and would've expected we'd be in a different place today. I would've expected we would've had an agreement. I would've expected we'd be dropping the puck."
"In retrospect, I look back at it and, while we were all hopeful that there was plenty of time to get a deal done, maybe the fault lies in the fact that we didn't start negotiations until June 29. Again, that goes back to the level of urgency with the players' association and not being prepared to have those discussions."
As the union has maintained in recent weeks, the league also may exercise the option to make a proposal.
"We're always working on ideas to contribute to proposals, and Bill knows that because I've told him that on a regular basis. We hope they're doing the same thing," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr said.
"Nobody should stand on ceremony. If they've got an idea or proposal that can move this process forward, they ought to bring it out."
Without the meat-and-potatoes issues on the agenda, the two sides discussed issues such as performance-enhancing drug testing and miscellaneous CBA legal issues.
Fehr indicated that such ancillary issues could be worked out easily should the main stumbling blocks-- namely the division of revenue -- be resolved.
"If we had everything else settled, we could go back and solve the remaining issues in six hours," he said.
Malhotra, who is entering his 15th NHL season, said as "creatures of habit" the players are getting anxious to play, but they aren't willing to do so by rushing into a deal. Malhotra said missing games and/or paychecks has not had any effect on the union's solidarity.
"I think our resolve's stronger than ever," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.