Just as hopes were starting to grow about the possible return of NHL action, the league and players’ association appear to be further apart than before.

“I think you can tell them (the hockey fans of Canada), that it looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” said NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.

That comment came after word that the latest offer, brokered after marathon talks between players and owners, would not be the one to get hockey back on the ice.

It had seemed like a deal was very close to being done, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that really wasn’t the case, accusing Fehr of raising false hope.

“It’s not the first time he’s said we were close when we weren’t,” Bettman said. “I don’t know why he did that, I find it almost incomprehensible that he did that.”

A disillusioned Leafs co-owned Larry Tanenbaum was part of the recent talks between players and owners, and said “had I not experienced this process myself, I might not have believed it.”

With no new talks set, the prospects of the season being saved seem to be growing dimmer by the day.

Bettman said the league would be unlikely to consider a season shorter than 48 games, as that could compromise the integrity of the game.