Iâ€™ve always maintained that this thing gets settled Jan 2006, however that being said the media is way off mark declaring the season dead and done. The truth is the negotiating has never really begun and if Iâ€™m a betting man I would say that this weekend will see the first significant movement since the lockout began. Beyond the media doom and gloom there are some important points to remember; -This is a high priced game of chicken, the reason this lockout has been such a hard fight is that this is a hard CBA to settle on. The league has never had a workable system that benefits both sides. As such there is a lot to lose and a lot to gain in these negotiations. Neither side can afford to make mistakes in these deals, neither can afford to give away ground and both sides no the first to blink loses. I guarantee both sides have better offers in their pocket, the problem is both sides want to see the others best offer first. This weekend maybe someone blinks. - The owners learned something from the MLBâ€™s last labour stoppage and that is this. Always give the other side an option that is far more detestable than the option you want. Ever wonder why suddenly linkage is the big deal for the owners. It reminds of the Minnesota contraction talk that dominated the last labour talks in MLB. Linkage is ridiculous concept for the NHL, revenues just arenâ€™t high enough or certain enough for any sane hockey player to agree to it. So if your an owner you press this point over and over until a restrictive cap of some kind suddenly seems palatable. - Remember the last go around, nothing was settled until AFTER the season was declared dead. Anyone remember the famous Elston cartoon with a simple coffin inscribed NHL. The next day was the breakthrough and you had the Elston cartoon with the hockey glove punching through the coffin. Todayâ€™s press conferences might just be the last chest pumping, feather dance before the mating season. -Pressure and stress creates deals. Donâ€™t for a second believe that the players, owners, Gary Bettman or Bob Goodenow want this season cancelled. Bettman and the league didnâ€™t set a Jan deadline like it did in the last lockout because they wanted the players feet in the boiling water as long as is humanely possible. Thereâ€™s a good chance that the season will be cancelled but only because the gulf is too wide to be carried in one deadline. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s this weekend or January 2006.