On the surface of it, there seems little reason for optimism.
The NHL and the Players' Association spent most of August scoffing at each others ideas.
In the media, proposals are characterized as "non-starters" from two sides that "aren't speaking the same language," leaving fans with "dashed hopes."
It's all a bit hysterical.
To see what a true hockey labor war looks like, hark back to the early days of the 2005 lockout.
The owners cried "salary cap" and the players cried "never"--a two-solitudes standoff that ultimately led to a reinvented economic system.
This time it's very different.
The gulf between them is wide, to be sure.
But mostly they're haggling over an established framework, trying to hold out as long as possible before the inevitable compromise on dollar figures.
Plenty of observers predicted an early-season lockout, with a resolution around the end of October and the season underway by American Thanksgiving.
Based on this summer's evidence, that scenario still looks like a pretty good bet.