Don't jump to any conclusions, the NHL season is not about to start.
But, yes, there were 13 Washington Capitals on the ice playing hockey yesterday morning at the Piney Orchard Ice Rink in Odenton.
But they paid for their own ice time. They wore name-less jerseys. They skated at less than half speed. There were no coaches in sight.
And the NHL lockout continued into its 20th day.
"We're not here because we're hopeful of anything happening soon," said Washington defenseman Calle Johansson. "The two sides aren't even talking. But we haven't skated in two, three weeks, and we don't want to lose all of our conditioning."
The two sides haven't spoken a word since the NHL owners turned down the NHL Players' Association's last proposal Oct. 11 and declined to accept the union's offer of no strike/no lockout to get the season started.
Yesterday, players said they were frustrated that both sides appear to be just sitting back, waiting for the other side to call.
"I do think it's silly," said Washington goalie and NHLPA player representative Don Beaupre. "I'm not doing the negotiating, but I just want someone to step up and say, 'Let's talk and do some negotiating.' I don't care whose turn it is. I've spoken to Bob [Goodenow, NHLPA director] and expressed my view. A lot of guys have called him and let him know how we feel. He is open to that.
"Bob is negotiating, but he's doing it off the input of the guys. He wants to do what we feel is best."
Last night, Goodenow said that as far as he is concerned, it is not a matter of waiting to hear from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
"We haven't spoken, but it shouldn't be taken that nothing is going on," Goodenow said.
At this point, there is no specific meeting date to renew talks, and last night NHL vice president of communications Arthur Pincus said that until the league hears from the NHLPA there is no reason for the NHL to suggest a meeting.
"Until they say they want to sit and talk there is no way to do a deal," Pincus said.