Agent: Expect long lockout, maybe another lost season

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Agent: Expect long lockout, maybe another lost season

While a number of Bruins players are hanging around for the next week or two before finally leaving Boston for other hockey opportunities in Europe, there are no talks currently underway between the NHL and NHLPA.

The chasm between the two sides remains as expansive as the Grand Canyon where they cant agree on the simple breakdown of hockey related revenues for each side, and cant find middle ground on the expected importance of revenue sharing. One side wants a 10-20 percent rollback right off the top and the other side is looking for a deliberate decrease in their piece of the pie while continuing to link it with the burgeoning growth of the league.

Theres not a lot of common ground, and one player agent told CSNNE.com that he's thinking that the whole season might once again be in danger. The agent also is among the many on the players side that feel the late rush of player contracts signed just before the lockout -- including the 70.5 doled out to Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic -- were agreed upon with the idea that the teams would never have to pay the full value of the deals.

The agents tone is ominous, and makes it sound like the NHL season is legitimately in danger -- something everyone once saw as unthinkable after the incredibly damaging year lost in 2004-05.

"I see zero chance of a deal anytime soon," said the agent. "The idea of a 'roll back' and 'term limits' is all over the deals signed right before the lockout and Don Fehr knows it and is not going to roll over and agree to it.

"Expect a long lockout and maybe another lost season. Did not have to happen -- NHL no longer is even pretending to be 'partners' with the players. The players proposal addresses the weak team's problems. NHL touts franchise values rising and yet everyone losing money?"

With many of the NHL teams beginning to discuss staff layoffs and pay reductions and the NHL league office reportedly holding a Wednesday morning meeting to discuss potential lockout layoffs as well, it appears the league is digging in its heels for a lengthy fight.

Perhaps rather than holding meetings about laying off employees the NHL would be better served by continuing to work on a deal that could save a season thats slowly ambling into the crosshairs. But thats just one mans opinion, of course.

Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

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Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

The downright mania around Steven Stamkos is reaching a fever pitch with the clock counting down to July 1 and unrestricted free agency, and doubly so with former Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton stoking the Boston fires on Monday by lumping the Bruins in with Tampa Bay and Toronto as potential favorites to land the top free agent big fish out there. Unfortunately I have heard absolutely nothing about Stamkos harboring a desire to play in Boston, and there’s no reason to believe the Black and Gold have anything resembling a legit shot to land the Lightning center this weekend.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why Stamkos won’t be picking the Boston Bruins as his NHL destination of choice when the moment of truth comes, likely on Friday.

1. Going in the wrong direction

The Bruins are headed in the wrong direction at this point. Let’s say the Bruins sign Stamkos to a $10-11 million per season contract for seven years, and immediately plug him into the lineup. Things might work out financially for the 2016-17 season, and perhaps the Stammer Hammer on the PP is enough to get the Bruins back into the playoffs. They are still a deeply flawed team even with Stamkos, and the giant $11 million cap hit is going to make it impossible to keep everybody with Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all looking at new contracts over the next calendar year. That doesn’t even mention trading, or signing in free agency, a potentially expensive defenseman, and replacing Loui Eriksson on the right wing if he walks on July 1 as well. The Bruins could theoretically sign Stamkos at the end of this week because they have $20-plus million in cap space, but they would immediately be in cap trouble once again with a roster that’s still nowhere near a Cup contender. Signing a shiny, skilled sniper off the free agent market isn’t a good strategy to build the Bruins back up into Cup contender, and it could actually set them back even further than they already sit at this point.

2. Krejci would have to be dealt

The Bruins would need to move heaven and Earth to make Stamkos happy. Okay, so maybe not heaven and Earth, but they would have to find a taker for playmaking center David Krejci. The Tampa Bay Lightning scorer is leaving the Bolts, and looking for a team where he can play center after battling with Tampa coach Jon Cooper over his playing position for the last couple of seasons. Going from Krejci to Stamkos would clearly be an upgrade on paper, and on the ice where Stamkos is one of the most electrifying players in the entire league. But there’s no guarantee Krejci would be willing to waive his no-movement clause to accommodate the Bruins bringing in his replacement, and that could blow up in Boston’s face if they make the signing before clearing out Krejci. Imagine if the Bruins are stuck with an unhappy Krejci who knows the Bruins want to move him, and an unhappy Stamkos that’s playing out of position because the Bruins once again didn’t get all their ducks in a row. That would be just another disastrous scenario for the Black and Gold where not enough attention was paid to the details. Speaking of those details, Brett Connolly and Stamkos are fairly good friends after their time in Tampa Bay. So non-tendering Connolly certainly wouldn’t have won any points with a player in Stamkos they’re allegedly attempting to woo.

3. Ontario is home

People need to realize that part of what’s going on here is Stamkos harboring a dream to go home to Ontario, and be the player that’s going to lift his Maple Leafs back to a proud, winning organization. There are pictures all over the Internet of Stamkos wearing Maple Leafs gear as a kid, and he’s said to those close to him that he wants to play in a real hockey market where the NHL is king. That was never the case in Tampa Bay where he still flourished, became a leader and developed into one of the most well-liked superstars in the entire league. But Stamkos now has a chance to go to the biggest hockey market that the NHL has to offer, and that’s Toronto where were Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre is a certified sports event. It doesn’t matter which team is in town, the Leafs get top billing on Hockey Night in Canada, and those Leafs players are splashed all across TV sets throughout Canada. Boston is a great hockey market, and an Original Six city that boasts its own considerable amount of hockey history. But it doesn’t compare to Toronto for an Ontario kid that grew up worshiping the Leafs, and now potentially has a chance to go home and lead that franchise to glory. There’s no just contest there when you think about it.

4. Julien is not Obi Wan Kenobi

There are many that think Claude Julien holds some kind of special bond with Stamkos, and that is going to be the key to getting him with the Boston Bruins. I’m sure that Stamkos appreciates that a classy guy like Julien visited him in the hospital after he gruesomely broke his leg in Boston, and they have forged a good player/coach relationship during their time at Team Canada events. But people are portraying this as Julien being some kind of Obi Wan Kenobi figure that’s going to wave his hand, and use some kind of Jedi mind trick on Stamkos to get him to sign on the dotted line with the Black and Gold. This is probably one of the most ridiculous theories in this entire Stamkos-to-the-Bruins propaganda that’s floating around. The truth of the matter is that Stamkos’ offensive numbers would take a dive in Claude Julien’s system, and that he wouldn’t be the top center in most situations while giving way to Patrice Bergeron at important moments. I don’t think that is what Stamkos has in mind when signing with a team, whether it’s Toronto or Tampa, or somebody else. It’s nice to hold out hope that the Bruins are going to land a big fish despite being a star-crossed franchise that’s very much in the middle of a painful reloading process. But some of these are delusions more than reasonable scenarios based on what might actually happen.

5. Bruins aren’t on the list

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the most damning piece of proof. TSN’s ultimate hockey insider Bob McKenzie was on the phone with TSN Radio out in Edmonton on Tuesday morning, and was asked about the Stamkos sweepstakes right out of the gate. He labeled Detroit, Buffalo and Toronto as the three favorites to land Stamkos in free agency, and Bobby Mac never even mentioned the Bruins during a lengthy, information-filled discussion with numerous follow-up questions. Other teams like the Canadiens were tossed into the mix for discussion purposes, but at no point were the Black and Gold even a glint in McKenzie’s eye during his comments. All due respect to Lawton, but it’s like I said earlier: there is a 0.0 percent chance that Stamkos signs with the Bruins on July 1 if he ultimately leaves the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Tuesday, June 28: Stamkos to the Bruins isn't happening

Tuesday, June 28: Stamkos to the Bruins isn't happening

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the parade of RFAs without qualifying offers wait for July 1 free agency.

*The Eric Lindros induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame finally puts the debate to bed over a controversial player with dominant seasons, serious injuries and some potential unrealized when it was all said and done.

*A list of the top 5 reasons why Steven Stamkos is going to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*A list of the top reasons why Steven Stamkos is going to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Notice there is no list of the top reasons why Stamkos is going to sign with the Boston Bruins because it is not going to happen. 

*Goalie Jack Campbell is traded away from the Dallas Stars, but has nothing but positive things to say about the organization.

*Matt Cullen will put off retirement after winning the Stanley Cup, and hopes to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Congrats to Ron Maclean and David Amber splitting the hosting duties for Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays. A great example of two classy pros, though I also think that Strombo did a good job under challenging circumstances the last couple of years.

*Andrew Shaw signs a six-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens that will insure he’s an aggravating pest in the Habs/Bruins rivalry for a long time to come. 

*For something completely different: Peyton Manning pays his respects to legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt on the day of her passing.