National Hockey League deputy commissioner Bill Daly believes there's still hope for an NHL season.
Daly appeared on HNIC Radio on Wednesday and was direct in his answer when pressed on his outlook for a 2012-13 NHL season.
When asked: "Yes or no, do we have a season?", his answer was clear.
"Yes," said Daly.
Daly expanded on his comments on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg's Hustler and Lawless show later in the day.
"I tend to be more optimistic than some of the people I work with," Daly said. "The bottom line is – [and] my view on this has been the same from the start – there's no reason we shouldn't be playing hockey."
"I'd like to think that at the end of the day that reason will prevail," he added, "and if reason prevails, we'll play a hockey season this year."
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, speaking at a charity hockey game in Toronto on Wednesday evening, was pleased to hear of Daly's outlook.
"That's good news, I'm glad to hear that," Fehr told reporters. "I certainly hope he's right. That's the players' goal, that's what we want to try and do.
"Hopefully, we'll get back together and negotiate out the remaining issues as soon as possible."
Fehr indicated that he's interested in having a similar owner-player dynamic as when the sides met two weeks ago, but unlike last time, with himself included in the discussions.
He was also asked why there have been no discussions between the two sides this week.
"Because the owners have not indicated a desire to resume," Fehr said. "We've indicated any number of times that we're willing to resume whenever they are without pre-conditions.
"We have to find a way to have discussions, because it's very hard to come to an agreement if you're not talking to one another," said Fehr. "It's very hard to come to an agreement if you set pre-conditions to the negotiations, too."
Fehr declined to discuss a potential filing of a disclaimer of interest by the NHLPA. The players are voting on the potential move electronically this week.
"That's an internal matter which the players will discuss," Fehr said.
The NHL is expected to cancel more games in the coming week. The last round of cancellations came on Dec. 10.
The league has held firm to the hope of salvaging a season of no less than 48 games, despite the two sides having not held formal negotiations since Dec. 6.
The lockout entered its 95th day on Wednesday, with 526 games cancelled thus far along with the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.