B's players 'frustrated, disappointed' at canceled games

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B's players 'frustrated, disappointed' at canceled games

The Bruins players knew this day was inevitable, and its showed with nine members of the team looking for opportunities to play in Europe.

But there are also a number of Bs players still in Boston working out daily, and those still in the area were understandably disappointed and perplexed by the announcement that all regular season games through Oct. 24 had been cancelled. Six Bruins games are now off the books including the season-opener, the home-opener and back-to-back games against the hated Montreal Canadiens. Those dont figure to be the only games cancelled either, as both the NHL and NHLPA reached a rough patch and have broken off meetings in the CBA negotiations.

Theres plenty of skepticism among the players that the NHL had a lockout in mind all along, and that serious negotiations wont begin until the players have already lost 20 percent of this seasons salary due to cancelled games. It makes sense when one ponders how much money losing franchises like the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders must be saving by missing the first few months of the season.

The question then becomes how willing do the NHL players become for an agreement when the owners have taken their pound of flesh. The NHL has wanted a 10-20 percent salary reduction in the new collective bargaining agreement, and they seem willing to get it by any means necessary.

Im disappointed that the league refuses to negotiate and would rather lock us out and try to sweat us out instead of negotiating in good faith, said Thornton to CSNNE.com. It seems like they are intent on cutting our pay whether by insisting we take their ridiculous offer or locking us out to achieve thisinstead of trying to find a reasonable agreement.

"Its very frustrating that it comes to this. Its awful to think this was the plan all along.

With the players and league owners at such odds over roughly a billion dollars in revenue over the course of any new deal, Andrew Ference thinks a schism among the 30 NHL owners is the only route to a fair solution. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is the Chairman of the Board of Governors and is said to be the driving force behind the lockout tactic being utilized. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman only needs seven other owners along with Bettman to impose a lockout, so it would need to quite an ownership revolt to impose progress.

But it would appear the NHL is direly in need of a forward-thinking owner like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was instrumental in bridging the two sides and avoiding an NFL work stoppage last season. Ference believes it will take much louder dissenting voices among NHL ownership to get something done.

The Bs defenseman will be leaving this weekend to play in the Czech League for at least the next few months, but he does so with a heavy heart.

Its disappointing because in most any other business you would continue working while negotiating a new union contract, said Ference to CSNNE.com. They were not forced to cancel games, it is voluntary by them. I remain optimistic that there are a number of owners who are just as unhappy as the players with this work stoppage and that they will be more vocal in their private talks with the league.

The damage done to the momentum that our sport has gathered over the past few years is something that we and some on the NHL side want to prevent. But seeing where their offers have come in, both in drastically eliminating dollars and players contract rights, its not surprising we are at this point right now.

So bitterness and hard feelings begin to fester between the players and the league officeownership of the NHL, and two sides remain no closer to starting their season than they did in the days following the Stanley Cup Finals in June. There have been great days for the NHL over the last eight years as revenues, ratings and popularity have all spiked, but Thursday marked the leagues crappiest day in a long, long time.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.