Eric Staal is back to being cautiously optimistic now that the NHL and NHLPA are set to resume labor negotiations.
"It's almost January and we're not playing hockey and that's what we want to do," said the Carolina captain. "Unified or not, we're still not playing and that's the biggest thing to accomplish, getting back on the ice and getting the season started. ...I just hope they can get it done. Personally, there's not a lot of comments I can make right now that I think can help the process. We'll see what happens." Staal was one of just three players who skated Monday at Raleigh Center Ice, along with Anthony Stewart and Cam Ward, and he pushed himself in the session to close out 2012 in the hopes that it will matter in the New Year.