The NHL CBA discussion inched forward yesterday when the league notified the NHLPA that the current collective bargaining agreement will indeed be terminated by the middle of September. Some may take it as the first shot over the bow between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, but in truth its just a necessary part of the process.
Its a customary piece of clerical work for both the league and the players union, but it also represents the first step in what could be a rocky road toward a new agreement despite unprecedented financial growth in the NHL over the last five years. The league and the players union are expected to engage in substantial discussions once the Stanley Cup Finals are over in the middle of June.
Hockey agent Allan Walsh had another interesting nugget when he tweeted about a number of NHL rookie camps already getting cancelled in the wake of a potential upcoming work stoppage.
But Bruins fans should fear not for their annual prospect camp thats become a summer showcase for the teams best and brightest young talent.
The Bruins have indicated they play to move ahead with their prospect camp despite the CBA uncertainty likely to be surrounding them. The Bs have tentatively scheduled the camp to take place prior to the July 4 holiday almost immediately after the NHL draft in Pittsburgh during the last weekend of June.
Dougie Hamilton will be the unmitigated star of the Bs prospect camp with the expectation he might win a regular roster spot at training camp provided that cooler heads prevail in the CBA negotiations. The hope is that both sides havent forgotten a lockout in 2004 nearly destroyed the NHL.
The Bruins prospect camp will be entering its fifth year of existence this July, and Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin and Adam McQuaid are all alumni of the summer camp designed to ease a young players transition into the Bruins Way of doing things.
BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL.
The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season.
It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents.
“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”
Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari.
“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”
That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo.
*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other.
*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week.
*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda.
*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out.
*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL.
*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.