The NHL Players’ Association did not file a “disclaimer of interest” by a midnight deadline Wednesday that would have dissolved the union, as talks continued with the league to end a nearly four-month-long lockout.

Hope was on the rise late Wednesday night as the two sides met in New York City for the second time in as many days.

Another sign that negotiations could be moving in a positive direction was word that several players in Europe were returning to North America this week.

“Hopefully I'm coming back for the right reason,” New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist posted on Twitter Tuesday.

Over the weekend, the NHL held discussions and so-called information sessions to explain the intricacies of the latest offer to players, which wasfirst presented on Thursday.

Monday marked the first time the two sides have gotten together since Dec. 13, when talks broke down as both sides walked away from the table.

The league’s owners had reviewed the players' counter-proposal on Monday before presenting its latest proposal Tuesday evening.

"They did make a comprehensive response to what we gave them," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said Tuesday night. "We asked a couple of questions. Now what we have to do is go through the document, try to make some sense out of it, compare it and see what the appropriate thing is to do next."

Fehr has also said that the informal discussions and information sessions that took place Tuesday allowed players to get a better handle on the offer and how it would play out.

Very few details about either side’s proposal have been offered, but the parties are acutely aware that they are working on a deadline. In order to salvage a 48-game season -- the minimum that would be profitable for the league -- Bettman has said games would need to begin by Jan. 19, with players headed to training camp by Jan. 11.

There is still a belief that 52 games could be squeezed in if an agreement was reached this week.

So far games have been cancelled through Jan. 14, with more than 50 per cent of the originally scheduled games already scrapped.

The Winter Classic was supposed to take place on New Year’s Day but was cancelled weeks ahead of the game as a result of uncertainty over the prolonged lockout.

With files from The Canadian Press