Haggerty: A few steps to getting the NHL season on track

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Haggerty: A few steps to getting the NHL season on track

It appears there might be some progress after all.

The NHL and NHLPA met informally on Monday night during an NHL Alumni Dinner to discuss Hockey Related Revenue and escrow payments from last years books, and now theyve scheduled talks for the end of this week in New York City.

That will break the nearly two week silence between the two sides as the first 61 NHL preseason games were cancelled, and it would appear likely the rest of the exhibition season will be axed by the time talks resume on Friday.

The discussion at weeks end will be about non-core economic matters, and perhaps tie together some of the other loose ends before both sides dive headlong into divvying up the Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) pie.

Its good to know that Enjoy the Silence wont be the preferred soundtrack behind CBA negotiations over the new two weeks leading up to the NHL season opener on Oct. 11. Its expected both sides are going to give it a solid push to avoid wiping out the first few months of the regular season. Here are a few things to watch for as the two sides work things out:

The players arent going to sign off on any potential salary rollbacks, and wont settle for less than the 1.87 billion in player salaries they earned during the 2011-12 season. But the players should have some give on potential escrow to start the new collective bargaining agreement, and be willing to tie a little of their money up in guaranteed growthprofits from the league. If the NHL were to agree to slight cost-of-living raises of 2-3 percent each year while growth continues at 6-7 percent then the players percentage of HRR would eventually drop to 50 percent over the course of a lengthy new CBA starting with a 53 percent slice of the pie this season. If the league blows up into a revenue monster over the next 5-10 years then the NHL owners could make plenty of dough in this kind of arrangement.

The player might have to compromise to four-year entry level contracts for rookies that could scale back some of the pricey second deals that have been handed out to Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Seguin among others. The mandatory five-year entry level proposed by the NHL in their first offer was designed to control the cost of the games best young players for teams that are hard-pressed to hold onto them when they become 6 million assets beginning in Year Four. This is also an issue the NHLPA might gain some measure of support around from players that are likely more worried about present paychecks than the rights of future rookies.

A source indicated to CSNNE.com that the NHLPA is looking to make substantial alterations to the disciplinary system set up by the NHL. Aside from NHLPA representation in a more clearly defined appeal process, the players association is angling toward allowing the NHL to fine players much more than 2,500 for on-ice infractions. Right now its the maximum a player can be fined, but in many instances a heftier fine could arguably take the place of a one-game suspension for borderline hits. If a player like Chara were suspended for a borderline offense, for instance, he would miss 73,000 in game checks for each game he was suspended. A fine for 25,000, for example, would send the proper message to a player without causing them to miss a game and a hefty game check along with it. Those kinds of small details along with NHL player participation in the Winter Olympics and heightened player safety rules are minor details both sides want ironed out in a new agreement.

Cap contract length at 6-8 years and kill all of the lifetime deals that are putting teams into salary cap jail. There was no need to sign New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, 67.5 million contract cleared by Charles Wang and Mike Milbury, and outlawing lifetime contracts for NHL players would save GMs and owners from themselves something theyve proven that they need. This is a no-brainer that both the NHL and the NHLPA should find common ground on this very quickly.

A greater degree of revenue sharing is something that the NHLPA has been pushing for, and is something that is badly needed to prop up markets like Phoenix, Florida and the New York Islanders that continually lose money year after year. Markets like Toronto, Montreal and New York along with Boston and Chicago are doing as well as theyve ever done, and should be willing to share the leagues burden along with the players in a true partnership.

The long term goal should be a 5050 split of revenue between the players and the NHL owners, and missing hockey games so one side can claim victory by getting a bigger piece of the pie will end hurting the league in the end. The NHL would be smart to walk through the door thats been opened by the folly of using NFL replacement refs. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is now flying under the radar ever so slightly as his NFL namesake is getting hammered from all sides, and he can look like the fair-haired hero if a deal gets done to save the bulk of the regular season.

Everybody agrees that the business of the NHL is going far too well to shutter its doors for the entire season, and it would be a shame to wipe out 247 and the Winter Classic given their enormous success. Its time for Bettman, Bill Daly, Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr to walk into a room and refuse to leave until a deal has been signed, sealed and delivered to save the season.

Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

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Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while using “malarkey” in my day-to-day vocabulary as much as possible. 
 
-- Dale Tallon was promoted with the Florida Panthers to accentuate his strengths as a talent evaluator, but maintains that he still has final say on hockey decisions
 
-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has another young D-man off the board with the Wild’s Matthew Dumba signing a two year, $5.1 million deal with Minnesota
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my take on the negotiations between Brad Marchand and the Bruins: There’s a couple of good signs at the outset of negotiations
 
-- The Arizona Coyotes are stressing the defensive side of things in a big, big way, and it appears to be part of John Chayka’s master plan

 -- Alex Pietrangelo would be a natural selection to replace David Backes as the next captain of the St. Louis Blues. 

-- A moving letter from Sens forward Bobby Ryan to his recently passed mother is up at the Players Tribune website. 

-- Chris Kreider has re-signed with the New York Rangers, and plans to get out of his head and onto the score sheet more often. 
 
-- For something completely different: Jerod Mayo will bring a new voice to Tom E. Curran’s Quick Slants program on our very own CSN network. 

 

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.