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Deadline would aid negotiations

Updated: January 31, 2005, 12:33 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | Special to ESPN.com

Another "crucial" week is replaced by a "very critical" week and the National Hockey League season continues to hang in the balance.

Or so we're led to believe.

The season is hanging by a thread, the clock is ticking.

All of these are phrases we have heard, said or even written in recent days, and none seems particularly accurate as each day passes.

In fact, despite dire media predictions and inexhaustible pessimism from players that all is lost, the true end of the 2004-05 ...

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