A deal is close. Or not.
The NHL season could start Nov. 2 and cram in all 82 games per team. Or not.
The sky is falling. Well, probably not.
In the wait-and-see world of the NHL lockout, some Penguins have worked hard at maintaining an even keel, only to join fans the past few days on an emotional roller-coaster.
"Tuesday, guys were excited about [an NHL proposal] and anxious to see what was going to happen," defenseman Matt Niskanen said Friday after skating with teammates at Southpointe. "And then now it's kind of a Debbie downer."
The league put forth a collective bargaining agreement proposal calling for a 50-50 split of revenues, raising hopes that things could be settled by a deadline of late next week for a Nov. 2 start. But players weren't thrilled with emerging details of the offer, and the NHL summarily rejected three counter offers made Thursday by the NHL Players' Association.
The NHL followed that Friday with the cancellation of the third week of 2012-13 season, through Nov. 1. The first two weeks already had been scratched.
"It's a lot of ups and downs," Penguins forward Joe Vitale said. "One day, you're big. One day, you're small. You just try to roll with it and stay educated about it."
Some are looking for ways to stay engaged and focused. Some are working out in their hometown or near their offseason home. Team captain Sidney Crosby will join several other NHL players for a workout summit next week in Dallas. Forward Craig Adams is actively looking to sign with a European team. Three others already are playing overseas.
Adams is well informed as the team NHLPA representative, but even so, he can feel the emotional tugs with each development.
"Maybe you do a little bit, but you try not to because you know that ... you can really drive yourself crazy if you get too high or too down," he said. "You've just got to be patient. With the approach that we're taking, we believe we're going to get a good deal."
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who has told his agent he has no plans to sign overseas unless things reach a point where the season appears lost, got caught up in things this week.
"We had huge swings," he said. "I think all of us were probably way too optimistic on Tuesday night, as I think most of the general public was. I think that we all thought that this was a good sign, and that we could be playing hockey by Nov. 2. As more and more details came out, I think the players were more and more disappointed.
"I know we were all incredibly disappointed with how things turned out. We had a conference call [Thursday night], and it seemed like things did not go well, that the offers that we made were rejected extremely quickly. That was tough."
So whichever Penguins are in town spend four mornings a week skating and working out at Southpointe. Their numbers can vary depending on travel plans, but their loyalty is strong.
"When my alarm clock goes off at 7 a.m., there are certainly doubts, but I haven't missed one yet," Lovejoy said. "This is something we've been doing since we were 4 years old. All of us are self-motivated. That's how we got here. We're competitive. We want to be our best.
"Everybody in town, if you're in town, guys have been here. I think there's been one day where three guys skipped, and we got [ticked] at them, and nothing like that has happened since. We're holding each other accountable."
Not that it's always easy to ride out the lockout.
"In the future I'm just not going to get too excited when some news comes, I guess," Niskanen said.
NOTE -- Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey had an assist in Medvescak Zagreb's 5-0 win against TWK Innsbruck in the Austrian League.
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly.