Players, coaches, GMs hope the end of the NHL lockout is finally in sight

'"I'm a little more cautious about all the positive talk that we're hearing in the last two weeks," Briere said Thursday. "We got burned a couple of times during the winter with this kind of talk, when we thought we had a deal but then got told it wasn't even close. I'm following it closely for sure, but I'm keeping an even keel."'

Swedish NHL players banned from national team for one year

'Three Swedish NHL players accused of rape will miss the 2006 Olympics after the country's hockey federation extended their suspensions from the national team to one year Wednesday. Kristian Huselius of the Florida Panthers, Andreas Lilja of the Nashville Predators and Henrik Tallinder of the Buffalo Sabres are banned until after the games in Turin, Italy, Swedish Ice Hockey Association head Michael Englund told Swedish Radio.'

NHL negotiations enter crucial month

'"I'm personally optimistic because both sides realize that there has to be hockey next year," said unrestricted free agent defenseman James Patrick, who will turn 42 in two weeks and would like another chance to play for the Buffalo Sabres. "I just think there's going to be a deal, for sure. . . . Whatever the little game of chess that's going on, both sides realize where the other one is coming from."'