What little hope that might have existed for a full NHL season appears to be gone.
Shortly after the NHL Players' Association reached out to the league Tuesday night to restart stalled labor negotiations, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly rebuffed the union's attempt.
"I don't anticipate any taking place for the balance of the week," Daly said in an email to The Associated Press Tuesday night. "The [u]nion has rejected the proposal we made last Tuesday and is not offering another one. We see nothing to be gained at this point by meeting just to meet."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week, in presenting the league's most recent offer, that if a new collective bargaining agreement wasn't reached by Thursday, it would be impossible to play a full regular-season schedule.
Earlier Tuesday, six Penguins skated at Southpointe. All left the facility without taking their equipment home.
"I'd gladly take a half-hour drive to get my stuff if I needed to," winger Matt Cooke said.
It could have been the final day for those participating in the local practices during the NHL lockout.
The league has canceled games through Nov. 1, but Bettman said last week that games could be made up and all 82 games per team could be played if the season starts Nov. 2. For that to happen, teams would need abbreviated training camps, so a deal would need to be in place tomorrow.
Things broke off last week after the NHL submitted a "50-50 split" proposal in terms of the way the league and the NHL Players' Association would divide revenue in a new CBA. The players didn't care for all the details of the proposal and offered three alternative counters. Those were quickly dismissed by the league.
Early Tuesday, word broke that the league last week gave team management -- specifically general managers -- a 48-hour window in which they could break protocol by talking to players. It was to be informational about the offer the NHL made, and there was to be no lobbying or negotiating.
The Penguins who skated at Southpointe said they were not contacted by team management. The Penguins declined comment in keeping with their policy regarding the lockout.
Forward and NHLPA team representative Craig Adams said he knew of players on other teams who had spoken with management. Adams said he wasn't privy to the content of those conversations. He didn't rail against the NHL doing that -- "I suppose it's OK to have those conversations," he said -- but neither did he think it served much purpose.
"We're going to bargain in the boardroom," Adams said. "There will be no cutting deals from guys directly to people on teams."
He also wondered about the NHL's motives.
"I would disagree if they contend that it was to get information out there because all the guys had the proposal," Adams said, adding, "we want to get a deal done. I don't think that's going to get in the way of getting a deal done."
The NHL apparently did not inform the NHLPA beforehand that it temporarily was lifting the conversation blackout, although winger Pascal Dupuis said it didn't take long for word to get around.
"We were aware of it," he said. "We heard that some team managements were talking to guys. An email went around to everyone saying, 'Yes, management is going to try to get in conversations. We want to make sure it's something you are comfortable with. You don't have to say anything, but if you do, make sure you're smart about it.' "
Cooke thought the whole thing didn't quite smell right.
"They were allowed to reach out," he said. "I don't know what that means because who allowed them? I don't know. It just seems really strange to me. Excuse me if I don't trust that situation fully."
NOTES -- Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland had two assists in RIHK's 5-4 shootout win against Stjernen in the Get-Ligaen of Norway. ... Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey had a goal and an assist for Medvescak Zagreb in a 5-3 win against SAPA Fehervar in the EBEL in Austria.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: email@example.com and Twitter @pgshelly.