Commissioner Gary Bettman received a unanimous vote from NHL owners in support of a lockout of players if the two sides can't reach a deal by Saturday night.
Neither side appears to be willing to budge, making it unlikely that better proposals from the owners or the players union will be presented before the new collective bargaining agreement deadline arrives.
Training camps are scheduled to open September 21 and the season is supposed to start October 11.
The owners say their latest offer will be in effect until Saturday and Bettman said they could take a harsher stance with the players if the lockout is allowed to go ahead.
There were no negotiations on Thursday and no new talks are scheduled to try and avert the NHL's fourth stoppage in 20 years.
"Looking back in hindsight, it looks like there was no urgency on the part of the players' association to engage or get anything done," Bettman said. "It's happened over the summer. I can't and won't speculate as to why that would be their intention, but it is what it is. If you look at the record and you look at it in hindsight, I think it is crystal clear."
On Wednesday, Bettman said that his side's latest offer was "intended to lead to a deal before the weekend". He added the proposal would be "off the table" if the Saturday deadline passes.
Bettman stated all 30 owners voted unanimously that a season could not begin without a new collective bargaining agreement.
The league originally demanded that the players to drop their percentage of current league revenues from 57 percent to 43 percent.
Since then the league has reduced its proposal to 47 percent. The NHL Players Association's last offer was for the players to reduce their take to 52.7 percent.
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said Thursday he isn't confident a deal is going to get done real soon.
"Right now it's not looking great," said Crosby, "but things can change pretty quickly."
Crosby doesn't believe the owners aren't as willing as the players to get a deal done.
"Right now the two sides are pretty far apart," Crosby said. "We are really happy with the proposal we have. We think it is fair. It is a partnership at the end of the day. That is what our proposal shows. I don't know if the one we are getting back is true indication of that."
NHLPA chief Donald Fehr said the players continue to be open to further talks and that minor progress has been made of late in getting a mutual definition of what is and isn't hockey-related income.
"The players want to find a way to make an agreement," Fehr said. "They want to negotiate until we do."
Asked about the definition of hockey related incomes, Fehr said, "we at least appear to be talking about the same definitions, and that's good."