The latest on the NHL lockout

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The latest on the NHL lockout

From Comcast SportsNetresumeThursday after the players' union reviewed management's proposal and saw it as only a small step forward to ending the monthlong lockout.The NHL made the proposal Tuesday in what it said was an attempt to preserve a full 82-game schedule. The league publicly released the plan Wednesday.NHL players' union head Donald Fehr met with players to formulate the union's response. In a letter to players and agents, he said the management plan would cost his members more than 1.6 billion over six years."Simply put, the owners' new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights," Fehr said in the letter, according to a report by TSN. "As you will see, at the 5 percent industry growth rate the owners predict, the salary reduction over six years exceeds 1.6 billion. What do the owners offer in return?"The lockout began Sept. 16 and last week the league canceled regular-season games through Oct. 24. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in announcing the new proposal, called it "a fair offer for a long-term deal" and "one that we hope gets a positive reaction.""We're studying it and we're trying to get ready to give a response tomorrow," said union lawyer Steve Fehr, brother of the union leader.In the midst of their third lockout since 1994, owners gave the union what the league called a "proposal tosave82-game season." The NHL said it hoped a deal would be reached by Oct 25 and the season would start by Nov. 2, three weeks behind schedule."We do not yet know whether this proposal is a serious attempt to negotiate an agreement, or just another step down the road," Donald Fehr wrote. "The next several days will be, in large part, an effort to discoverthe answerto that question."NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league was not responding to Fehr's letter.The NHL released details of its offer for a six-year deal with a mutual option for a seventh. The plan includes a 50-50 split in hockey related revenueThe NHL proposed in July to cut the percentage of hockey related revenue from 57 percent to 43 percent, then increased its offer in September to about 47 percent.Winnipeg Jets forward Olli Jokinen called the plan a "starting point," according to The Canadian Press."I hope we can get going ASAP," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "We will be presenting something soon and hopefully this week's proposals will spark things in the right direction. Still some work to get done."Management included a provision to ensure players receive all money promised in existing contracts, but the union is concerned with what management termed the "make-whole provision." If the players' share falls short of their 1.883 billion in 2011-12, up to 149 million in the first year of a new deal and up to 62 million in the second would be repaid to players as deferred compensation. However, the union believes thatmoneywould be counted against the players' share in later years.The latest proposal also includes:--A listed salary cap of 59.9 million for the 2012-13 season, with a provision each team could spend up to 70.2 million during a transition season.--Changing eligibility for unrestricted free agency from age 27 or seven years of service to age 28 or eight years of service, down from 10 years of service in the league's earlier proposal.--Increasing eligibility for salary arbitration from four years to five years.--Including all years of existing contracts beyond five years against a team's cap, regardless of where a player is playing. If a player is traded and retires or stops playing, the applicable cap charge would be applied against the team that originally signed the contact.--The reduction of entry-level contracts to two years.--A term limit on any contract beyond that set at five years and a stipulation that the average annual value can only vary up to five percent. This is a mechanism designed to eliminate long-term, back-loaded contracts. The NHL wants to prohibit lengthy deals, such as the 98 million, 13-year contracts Minnesota agreed to in July with forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.--The elimination of re-entry waivers.--Increasing the annual revenue sharing pool by 33 percent to 200 million, assuming annual league revenue of 3.033 billion, with a provision that half the pool be funded by the 10 teams with the highest gross revenue. A cutout against clubs in large media markets, such as Anaheim, New Jersey and the New York Islanders, and clawbacks against not selling enough tickets would be eliminated. A new revenue sharing committee, which would include NHLPA representation, would have input to determine distribution.Among the items not addressed in the league's public detailing of its offer was realignment, drug testing or the NHL's participation in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.

 

Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

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Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

The Bruins' lineup for Friday night’s preseason game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings will include players from both practice groups filling into a more veteran-laden B’s lineup in Motown.

The Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid pairing that wasn’t great on Wednesday night will get right back into it, and the John-Michael Liles-Brandon Carlo pairing that was so good on Monday night will get another look as well. Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner will be the established NHL veterans along with McQuaid and Liles suiting up for Boston’s first road exhibition of the preseason.

Here’s the entire lineup, with Boston now serving as one of the last NHL teams that is yet to make any cuts from their camp roster: Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Seth Griffith, Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Jeremy Lauzon, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Adam McQuaid, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins will be traveling to Philadelphia for another preseason game on Saturday and that may perhaps be the first time B’s fans get to see returning World Cup veteran players David Backes, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask after they began practicing with the camp group on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.