As the NHL owners and the NHL Players Association labored on in negotiations, some hope was expressed this week that the two sides were venturing closer together and could help bring an end to the extended lockout.
But late Thursday, any hopes that were raised were dashed when both sides took steps back from the table and negotiations were stopped cold. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said that the two sides had no plans to meet before the weekend.
In response, some owners from around the league expressed their sorrow in the extended nature of the negotiations in a joint statement that included Tampa Bay Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik.
"After working this week with our players toward what we hoped would be a new agreement, owners presented a proposal we believed would benefit those great players, ownership, and, ultimately, our fans for many years to come," Vinik said of a proposal that was rejected by union leadership.
Vinik, who has been the Lightning's owner since 2010, also expressed his optimism moving forward despite the setback.
"My love for the game is only superseded by my commitment to our fans and I hold out hope we can soon join with our players and return the game back to its rightful place on the ice," Vinik said.