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.

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

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Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

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Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.