What does Thursday's news mean for the 2012-13 season?
Unless there is a good amount of progress made this weekend on a new CBA, the first major news of the lockout could possibly come next week with the league cancelling regular season games scheduled in October.
The good news is that a final effort to make progress toward a deal to save the entire regular season will be made on Friday, when, according to Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the two sides will resume talks for a few days.
(2/2) the players say we could see a flood of locked-out NHLers leave to play elsewhere the first few weeks in October— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) September 27, 2012
The focus of the talks on Friday will not be on the core economic issues, according to Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star.
This is good news because it shows that the two sides are at least willing negotiate and would rather try to finalize some of the important issues that could be agreed on rather than not talk at all.
Discussing topics such as pensions, working conditions, free agency and supplemental discipline could get the ball rolling and pave the way for an agreement to be made in time to save as much of the regular season as possible.
We knew that today's announcement regarding the cancellation of all 106 preseason games was coming, regardless of whether there were labor meetings scheduled in the near future.
A lot of fans don't pay too much attention to the preseason, especially since a lot of the games feature more young players and prospects than established NHL players.
Now that the preseason has been wiped out, a deal would probably have to completed by October 3 or 4 for the regular season to start on time. A deal by these dates would give all NHL teams and players one week to get together and prepare for the season to start as scheduled.
The real concern right now is that both the league and the players are running out of time to save the regular season.
This weekend is the most important three-day stretch of this entire process. With the start of the regular season on the line, we will find out if the two sides are close to a deal or still far apart.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.