The league and the NHLPA only have a few short weeks to sign the new CBA, or else the season is going to be wiped out, according to a report by RDS' Renaud Lavoie. All games have been canceled through January 14th as it stands, and it's a pretty common assumption that the season will be lost in the next round of cancelations. During the last lockout, the league drug things out until February before the season was gone, so at the very least this time around fans won't be drug along any longer than necessary.
Anyway, the NHL submitted a new CBA proposal on Thursday that seemed to be a major step in the players' favor. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun has the whole run-down of proposals in the suggested CBA, and it appears to be a major capitulation on the league's part, but with enough in there to still not be favorable to the players (each team's one amnesty buy-out comes from the players' share of revenues, which is rich considering that the owners signed the soon to be bought out players to that contract to begin with).
What would cause the league to propose a new CBA after days of not giving the NHLPA the time of day, and after repeated statements of "take it or leave it?" Perhaps it's because the owners are telling Gary Bettman that a lost season is not an option. You can lose only so much money before you realize that you're wasting your time and that you won't get that cash back. Both players and owners realize this, but the question is if they'll get on the same page before Saturday, January 11th. That's just two weeks, and when one considers how much progress has been made since September, it doesn't look hopeful.
The NHL is the only league to lose an entire season to a lockout. They'll probably also be the only league to ever lose two.