Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly appeared on HNIC Radio Wednesday, and when pressed for a "yes" or "no" answer if there would be a 2012-13 season, responded in the affirmative.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, meanwhile, spoke to reporters for about 10 minutes in Toronto ahead of a players' association game involving the likes of Steven Stamkos, P.K. Subban, and Phil Kessel.
When asked about Daly's qualified prediction the NHL will resume this season: "That's good news. I hope he's right."
The seemingly optimistic statement is tempered by the fact that there are currently no scheduled plans for the the league and the players' association to meet again.
"There does need to be a reason to meet," Daly said. "Given, I guess, where we are, somebody has to have a new idea, or something new to put on the table, to move the process along."
The back-and-forth came on the 95th day of the lockout. So far, a total of 526 regular season games have been cancelled, up to Dec. 30.
Daly also said he expected more game cancellations to be announced this week, and allowed that there's not much time left to salvage a season, which will likely not be less than 48 games, also the amount played in the shortened 1994-95 season.
"I don't think setting an absolute [drop dead] date serves a purpose [in negotiations] at this point, but certainly everybody knows the neighbourhood we're talking about," he said.
The players are this week in the process of voting on whether they would like to file a so-called disclaimer of interest, which would grant the players' association's executive board the authority to dissolve the union because of the inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the league.
The NHL has deemed its lockout legal and that any disclaimer of interest would be a ploy and not bona fide, and are pursuing a ruling on that legality through both the U.S. Federal Courts and the National Labor Relations Board.