Lucic: Refusal of offers "shows the NHL doesn't want to negotiate"

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Lucic: Refusal of offers "shows the NHL doesn't want to negotiate"

Milan Lucic is still skating in the Boston area and waiting things out like so many rabid NHL fans. The Bruins power forward has front row seats given his status as one of the best young players in the NHL, of course, and has been involved with the conference calls and emails being sent back and forth by the NHLPA.

Lucic is still hopeful there will be a substantial NHL regular season to prepare for, but was rightfully disappointed along with the rest of NHL brothers when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed three NHLPA counter-proposals out of hand on Thursday. Bettman then went on to say he was thoroughly disappointed with the NHLPAs counter-offers and sounded off a perturbed tone.

According to those in the negotiating room the NHL basically shot down the trio of offers in 10 minutes, and didnt want to do much beyond tweaks and minor adjustments to their
5050 offer from earlier this week.

To Lucic that meant there wasnt much of a good faith negotiating session taking place between the NHL and NHLPA at the unions Toronto offices.

We proposed three different offers in relation to theirs, but when all get shut down in 10 minutes its discouraging and shows that they dont really want to negotiate, said Lucic to CSNNE.com. I never thought it would get to this point; especially because of the way this game has been going.

Its pretty clear where the battle lines have been drawn: the NHL wants a 5050 split that the NHLPA has agreed to meet at some point in the deal, and now it only remains a matter of when during the CBA it becomes an even split. Theres also the matter of what the players want: if the NHLPA agrees to drop down to an even 5050 split of Hockey Related Revenue then the players also want the 30 NHL owners to guarantee all previously signed contracts without an escrow component.

There are no future bargaining sessions scheduled as the NHL announced on Friday it was canceling all NHL games up to Nov. 1, but there are two very clearly defined positions for both the players and the league.

Its the hope of Lucic, along with all those that love the NHL, that a middle ground can be reached in the near future to save a substantial NHL regular season along with all of the hallmark NHL events including the Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star Game.

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.