NEW YORK — The NHL canceled the rest of the preseason Thursday, just a day before negotiations were set to resume in an effort to end the lockout.
The league announced its second cancellation of preseason games in a two-sentence statement. NHL owners locked out players Sept. 16 when the collective bargaining agreement expired.
The NHL had already called off all the exhibition games scheduled in September. The regular season is supposed to begin Oct. 11.
The two sides have scheduled talks on Friday in New York, although they are on secondary economic issues as opposed to the core of the dispute, which is how to split more than $3 billion in annual revenue.
"I'll reserve judgment on my sense of 'optimism' (or not) until we see how our meetings unfold," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to The Associated Press. "Ultimately, we have to meet and talk to make a deal. But until we make progress and see some compromise from the Union of their economic position, we won't be going anywhere fast.
"We will see."
The NHL and the union last met for formal negotiations Sept. 12, three days before the labor pact that ended the previous lockout — back in 2005 — ran out.
Now there is at least a glimmer of optimism as talks are expected to last through the weekend.