There is nothing to do now but regroup. What choice do the NHL and the NHL Players' Association have now?

Intense negotiations early last week fueled optimism that the NHL lockout might end soon -- until those talks imploded in spectacular fashion Thursday night. As of Sunday afternoon, no further talks were scheduled, though the two sides will make another run at it soon.

What matters to hockey fans is whether the leadership of the NHL and NHLPA can put their anger, frustration and ego aside and make a deal. Can they figure out what the other side is willing to accept -- not what it wants -- and offer the concessions necessary to get there? You listen to the rhetoric from both sides, and it is hard to maintain optimism.

The last, best hope is that the folks doing the bargaining ultimately get it. Does the sport matter enough to them to put everything aside, including sometimes their own best business interests? That judgment will be rendered soon. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr have a month to figure this out -- if they can.

- Brian McNally