In a surprising move, the NHL canceled the scheduled Jan. 14 board of governors' meeting because it has nothing new to report regarding the lockout.
What it means isn't clear. But there was speculation that representatives from the 30 teams would either cancel the 2004-05 season or set a deadline for saving it. The meeting was scheduled on Dec. 22, so it seems odd it was called off a week before it was to occur.
It could mean there are negotiations going on in secret and progress is being made, or that there is nothing new to report and the NHL is closer to becoming the first North American pro sports league to cancel an entire season because of a labor dispute.
"People have to come from a far distance, so I'm sure the reason it was called off was there was no reason to have a meeting," said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who represents New Jersey on the board of governors.
"Our commissioner never has a meeting just for the sake of having a meeting. Nothing has changed, but I don't know why (it was canceled) other than there was no reason to have it."
There were rumors the owners are preparing an offer to present in the next week or two, and that they would ask the union's executive committee to turn it over to the players for a full union vote. However, the league and several owners have said in recent days that no proposal is being planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.