With the NHL canceling games to mid-January and no formal CBA talks in sight, expectation is growing the 2012-13 season may be toast.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports, amid speculation the NHL has a mid-January deadline for either a new CBA or cancelling the remainder of the 2012-13 season, the league yesterday cancelled the first two weeks of the January 2013 schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he didn’t want to characterize the meaning of that cancellation. Meanwhile, the results of the player vote on giving the NHLPA executive board permission to file dismissal of interest is expected today. If, as expected, the players approve it, the PA has until January 2 to file a dismissal of interest.

CBC.CA: Tim Wharnsby believes the NHL’s next cancellation will be the remainder of the season if no new agreement is in place by mid-January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone expects the next cancellation will be the rest of the season. Those who remain optimistic are growing fewer.

TSN.CA: A court summons was filed yesterday in New York stating the NHLPA has until January 7 to respond to a class action complaint filed last week by the NHL. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, meanwhile, expressed his wish the upcoming holidays won’t be an impediment toward negotiating a new CBA. Fehr also admitted there had been “conversations” between the offices in hopes of re-starting talks.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL David Shoalts reports the players are now “contemplating a leap into the unknown” with their vote on disclaimer of interest, which is expected to pass today. The move, however, is still seen as more of a bargaining tactic by the PA.

OTTAWA SUN: In an interview yesterday, Bill Daly clarified his remarks to Hockey Night in Canada radio on Wednesday where he answered “yes” to a direct question about whether or not there will be a season. “I only had two choices: Of course, I was going to answer ‘Yes’. Yes, I do (have optimism). That’s more my nature. I don’t understand to a large extent why we’re where we’re at. I still think at the end of the day we should be able to get deal.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daly certainly wasn’t going to answer “no” to that question, as the NHLPA would’ve used it against him, claiming the league having no intention of negotiating a season-saving deal. 

USATODAY: Kevin Allen suggests if the NHL gets its way and imposes a five-year term limit on player contracts (or 7-years for teams re-signing their own players), it might result in more “sign-and-trade” deals, and even fewer stars entering the free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good point raised by Allen. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out regarding free agents during the next CBA.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber declined to comment on his plans if the NHL were to void all existing player contracts should the NLRB recognize the PA’s disclaimer of interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The possibility of voiding all existing contracts raises the specter of superstars like Weber forsaking their current teams to sign with the highest bidders. While I have my doubts it’ll get that far, things would certainly get interesting if they did.

Thomas makes rare appearance at NHLPA meeting.

Thomas makes rare appearance at NHLPA meeting.

CSNNE.COM: Erstwhile Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas recently sat in on one of the NHLPA conference calls.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thomas has been laying low with his family in Colorado since last spring. He reportedly didn’t contribute anything to the conference call.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Brenden Morrow talks about what he’s been doing to stay in shape and what he’s been doing during the lockout.

TORONTO STAR: Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds talks about his time playing in the Czech Republic earlier this autumn, including the occasional racism he encountered playing there. Simmonds makes it clear those incidents didn’t ruin his time there. He returned to Canada to deal with a family matter.

CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers received some good news, as defenseman Andrej Meszaros is progressing in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon and is expected to be cleared to play in January, while blueliner Andreas Lilja has recovered from a hip injury and has been cleared to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For teams with several players who were sidelined by lengthy injuries this fall, the lockout has been a godsend, allowing times for those players to recover, hopefully in time for a shortened season.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets players Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett have cut short their tenure with Austria’s EC Salzburg Red Bull. While Dorsett had a mutual “out clause” in his contract, EC Salsburg is accusing Brassard of breaching his contract.

KUKLA’S KORNER: cited a tweet by Sportsnet’s Daren Millard confirming the NHLPA is planning an outdoor game on Lake Louise in February if there’s no new CBA in place by then.