In September, before the lockout began, before the gloom really set in, Joe Corvo said it didn't feel like 2004 all over again.
In 2004, everyone in the NHL sensed the fight over a new CBA would be a bitter one. The issues were too big. Sure enough, the entire 2004-2005 season eventually was canceled.
Corvo, who signed a one-year contract in July and returned to the Canes, didn't believe there would be a repeat. Not in 2012. Not over these CBA issues.
And now, with November about to end and no end to the lockout in sight?
"It's definitely starting to feel that way (like 2004) the longer it goes," the defenseman said Wednesday after skating at Raleigh Center Ice. "It seems bleak for having any sort of season. Last time they called it around February (2005), so we've got to figure something's got to be done pretty quick.
"So yeah, it feels like that again. It seems like we're getting nowhere."
There is a new wrinkle in the labor talks this week -- the NHL and NHLPA agreeing to use federal mediators in the CBA sessions. The two sides also agreed to go through that process last time, but waited until early 2005, when it was too late to prevent the season from being axed.
Corvo said he sees nothing wrong is using mediators, although not optimistic it will make a difference. The mediators can only advise and offer compromises. Nothing is binding on either side.
"It can't hurt just to get a third party in there to maybe offer some kind of opinion," Corvo said. "They can't force them to do anything. I'm pretty sure a mediator isn't going to bring up something they haven't already gone over collectively."
Corvo, 35, wants to play but said he had "tucked money away" and was fine with sitting out a season if that's what it takes for the NHLPA to get an equitable CBA that will help players in future years.
Veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik of the Washington Capitals recently spoke out against NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and his negotiating methods. That raised eyebrows around the league. But Corvo said he wouldn't be surprised if more people -- players and on the owners side -- began to pop off.
"The frustration level is probably through the roof at this point," he said. "Guys sometimes don't think about things before they say them and how it might hurt the collective group. As it goes along I think people will start voicing their opinions."