Haggerty: Sides counting down to an NHL lockout

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Haggerty: Sides counting down to an NHL lockout

So it would appear the lockout is on.
Yes, the NHLPA has until midnight on Saturday moving into Sunday to accept a take it or leave it proposal from the NHL that will be pulled from the table. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was quick to point out that wasnt a take it or leave it offer when addressing the media in New York City Thursday afternoon.
Confused yet?
No.
Frustrated yet?
Most definitely.
According to TSNs Darren Dreger, Bruins Principal Owner Jeremy Jacobs, the senior member of the NHL Board of Governors, made the motion on Friday afternoon for a unanimous vote from league ownership to support a lockout expected to begin on Sunday. Its symbolic that a man just beginning to repair a damaged image in the eyes of Bruins fans after the Stanley Cup championship two years ago is pushing the very thing that will drive many hockey fans right off the cliff.
Nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do. This is what I do. This is what my life is about, said Bettman. This is very hard and I feel terrible about it.
In the same breath Bettman also said that the urgency for substantial alterations to the new CBA were necessary because the 2004-05 was more fair than the league originally anticipated.
In other words the owners didnt decimate the players like theyd originally envisioned, and the NHLs moguls apparently arent making enough money despite the record 3.3 billion in revenue last season.
The owners have given up a small amount and weve moved significantly toward them, said one member of the NHLPA about the last two days of discussions. At the end of the day this isnt about percentage points. Its about one side willing to forego significant things to get a deal done and its about another side that hasnt budged from many of their original demands.
There is the slightest hint of optimism that the NHL and NHLPA are beginning to agree on definitions of financial terms and are inching toward each other in key areas. But theres no way the NHL lockout doesnt become a reality on Sunday, and theres every reason to believe its going to last for a while.
Perhaps it will be as Bruins center Gregory Campbell predicts, and the two sides will move closer once it gets past the Sept. 15 deadline. Perhaps the NHL will finally drop the demands for rollbacks and escrow plans, and keep the player percentage of Hockey Related Revenue at 50 percent or higher.
More importantly, perhaps Bettman and Co. will finally take the NHLPAs call for expanded revenue sharing designed to cure the ills of the struggling small market teams more seriously. Its that kind of wide vision and creative forethought thats going to rescue the NHL from these damaging money squabbles that pop up whenever the CBA expires in the hockey world.
Fehr said he was a little surprised and significantly disappointed that Bettman has continuously labeled revenue sharing discussions as a distraction during the negotiations.
We want a deal that stabilizes the industry and gets us out of this cycle, said Fehr. You get up every day and want to reach an agreement. If the lockout is the way it's going to be then unfortunately that's the way its going to be... but maybe that can be reconsidered."
Perhaps the NHLPA will realize that things are different than they used to be, and a move to a straight 5050 split similar to the NBA and the NFL that is going to be necessary in a new world of sports CBAs.
If those frank, substantial discussions are set to take place, many of the players believe theyll now happen because the NHL regular season is on the clock and ticking.
Im trying to take an optimistic approach," said Gregory Campbell. "The lockout deadline almost seems inevitablefrom everything that Ive heard about the talks. Thats the owners' plan. Theres nothing written in stone and even if we are officially locked out on the 15th Im still optimistic that as soon as the deadline comes there will be progress.
Once the deadline hits its for real and the season wont start until it gets sorted out. Hopefully thats a time when people really get serious and try to work something out here. I dont think the game is in that bad of a shape. Its certainly a lot better than it was when I came into the NHL.
The NHLPA made a serious concession when they agreed to tack another year onto their CBA offer and make it a five-year deal with two options at the end of a three-year contract. The NHL made a significant move by finally agreeing to negotiate from the original HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) formula rather than an update number that was going to pull more money away from the players.
Thats a modest start that probably should have taken place two months ago, but at least the two sides are continuing a dialogue at this point. Whispers about another lost season are starting to seep into the conversation, but most still feel that a new NHL season will be underway by Christmas just as the similar NBA situation was solved prior to the holidays last year.
That gives some hope the entire season wont be lost as thing start to sound eerily similar to eight years ago when the NHL lost an entire season.

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

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. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

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.