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.

Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

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Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

BRIGHTON – It only amounts to lip service coming in the first few days the Bruins players are simply getting together for informal captain’s practices, but it’s pretty clear the fire is burning brightly after missing the playoffs two years in a row.

For a group that still includes some players that made the playoffs seven seasons in a row, made it to the Cup Finals twice and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, it feels like that sting of pride is very close to the surface.

Torey Krug wouldn’t even entertain discussion of last season when asked about it following Monday’s skating session at the new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility. David Krejci said he’s officially done talking about winning the Cup five long years ago. Now, it’s about righting the ship for the Bruins, and getting things back moving in a positive, forward progression after moving backwards and sideways over the last two years.

As always, the playmaking Krejci gives a straight, honest take about where the team is on the down side of their Cup years.

“I feel like we’re back to where we started 10 years ago, you know? The teams didn’t make the playoffs, and now we kind of have some new guys. It’s still a good mix with some experienced guys,” said Krejci. “But the hunger, it’s there again. Obviously we haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple of years. It’s exciting times.

“If you go back to 2011 and then to 2013, we were in the Final. But we knew that we had already won two years before. We did try, but you always knew in the back of your mind that you’d already won the Cup. Now, it’s like the Cup is out of the window and that was a long time ago. I’m going to talk about the Cup when I retire, so now we’re all hungry again. We missed the playoffs two years in a row, and it’s a new excitement again. I just can’t wait to get back into it.”

Krejci’s first full season in the NHL was actually the year that the B’s made it back into the postseason in 2007-08, but he was close enough to the organization to see what it was like at the 2006 training camp when a great deal was in flux for the Black and Gold.

It’s not unlike the big changes that the Bruins have seen in the past two years with the hopes that there will start being a payoff in the near future.

It’s exciting for Krejci, in particular, as he should be 100 percent healthy for the first time in three years after surgery on his left hip last spring. A healthy Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will give the Black and Gold their potent 1-2 punch down the middle and there’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of the B’s defensemen crew after a difficult campaign last year.

Krug admitted as much while brushing off big picture questions about what happened last season, and why this season should be any different for a group of seven defensemen returning from last season’s crew ranked 19th in the league.

“I’m not going to talk about [last year]. We’re moving on. This group will use it as motivation moving forward. With this new practice facility, everybody is excited to get back together and start moving forward,” said Krug. “We have [D-men] pieces in here that maybe people aren’t getting too excited about, but we know what we have in this room. We’ve grown and developed together.

“We know that we’re highly capable of taking whatever is thrown our way. But I know the D-men especially are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that we’re not ready to compete, and not ready to be a playoff team.”

That’s essentially what it comes down to for the Black and Gold. They can talk about regaining the hunger to compete and utilizing last season’s failures as motivation for this season, but it all amounts to nothing unless they show it on the ice on a consistent basis.

It will be months before everybody truly knows if it’s more than talk from the Bruins and before we learn whether the B’s even have the talent on the roster to truly compete in a difficult, improving Atlantic Division. 

For now, the optimism is running high for the returning Black and Gold players and that registers as something as they slowly ramp up to the start of training camp next month and the season opener on Oct. 13 in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. 

 

Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

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Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

BRIGHTON – It’s been a summer brimming with anticipation for Bruins players and management alike with the prospect of moving into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility.

The Bruins contingent hosted Jimmy Vesey at their new Warrior Ice Arena home a couple of weeks ago and the B’s players christened the ice by kicking off their informal captain’s practices on Monday morning.

Torey Krug, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, John-Michael Liles, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano all hit the ice to work with a local goaltender and went through skating drills for the hour-plus to get the blood pumping. Krejci left the ice after roughly 15 minutes as he recovers from left hip surgery, but was still left excited at the prospect of practicing in the new digs after spending his entire Bruins career with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington as their practice home.

The arena doesn’t officially open until the Bruins and New Balance hold a grand opening on Sept. 8, but color several Bruins veterans impressed.

“It’s beautiful. It’s great. It’s a little bit different than Wilmington,” said Krejci. “You guys will get a chance to see it next week, but it’s pretty cool.”

The captain’s practices will continue in earnest with more Bruins players joining the group as the calendar gets closer to the start of training camp. The expectation is that all of the B’s skaters will be wholly impressed with the new facility. 

Clearly, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a new rink, and the closer proximity is a bonus for Bruins players that these days live in and around Boston rather than in the distant suburbs.

There's even the distinct possibility in the not-so distant future that the Bruins could start holding game day morning skates at the practice facility rather than at the Garden. It's something already done in Montreal, where the Habs have a similar setup with their practice rink in Brossard, just outside of the city. 

“It’s beautiful. For the guys that have been the scenes and doing all the work in Wilmington all of these years, it’s great for them to be a part of this and move into a new building,” said Krug. “I’m fortunate to be here and be a part of it. That’s exciting.”

Krug joked that being an early arriver at Warrior Arena doesn’t guarantee him one of the big lockers in the dressing room once training camp gets going: “I’m pretty sure Zee [captain Zdeno Chara] will kick me out of whatever stall I picked. It’s obviously exciting to be one of the first guys skating on this ice.”

 

Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

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Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Austin Czarnik.

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