To the surprise of nobody and with the start of AHL training camp on tap for Friday, the NHL announced the cancellation of the remaining preseason schedule on Thursday afternoon.
The Bruins had three remaining games on tap including a pair of dates at the Garden on Oct. 3 (Washington Capitals) and 5 (Buffalo Sabres) as well as a road game against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 6, but all seven preseason games originally scheduled have been erased from existence.
The news isnt all doom and gloom, however.
The NHL and NHLPA are set to meet for three days of meetings, discussions and negotiations starting on Friday after 12 days of silence since the lockout became official on Sept. 16. Its expected that most of the negotiations will center around non-core economic issues given the divide that exists on the split of Hockey Related Revenue, but the meetings would seem to be a goodwill effort to save the start of the season.
While wiping out the NHL preseason is a serious result of the labor issues dogging the league, the real pain wont start until the league begins announcing the cancellation of regular season games beginning on Oct. 11.
Given that the players will need at least 2-3 weeks before theyre ready for regular season games to begin, the regular season will be in danger of getting shortened if a compromise isnt hammered out quickly between the NHL and NHLPA.
The Bruins took care of their biggest priority today as they reached agreement with Brad Marchand on an eight-year contract extension, according to several reports.
Elliotte Friedman reports Marchand has agreed to an eight year, $49 millionextension ($6.125 million per season) that will effectively allow him to finish his career in Boston.
It was felt the Bruins would have been playing with fire if they allowed Marchand -- a 37-goal scorer last year -- to start the season unsigned, especially after he ripped up the World Cup of Hockey competition on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby. Bruins president Cam Neely told CSN a couple of weeks ago that Boston was aiming to get the deal done with Marchand prior to the start of the regular season. In fact, they managed to get it done before the start of even the preseason.
Marchand has consistently said that he wants to finish out his career with the Bruins, who drafted and developed him and with whom he turned into an elite player in the last couple of years. He’s clearly taking a hometown discount to stick with Boston.
This is what Marchand said to CSN on breakup day last April:
“I obviously love being a part of this organization, this city and this team, and I don’t think this team is done having some good runs. I would love to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, but the reality is when you look around the league that it doesn’t happen for many guys. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
Well, the time came and Marchand put his money where his sometimes big mouth usually is. The Bruins agitator easily could have demanded a yearly salary of $7 million-plus in free agency.
Credit to Don Sweeney and Neely for closing the deal with Marchand, and ticking one very important thing off their checklist that will help make the Bruins great again.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while finding it hard to believe that it’s game day for the Boston Bruins. Summer is officially O-V-A.
-- The Montreal media is starting to get on board with this tougher, grittier version of the Habs, along with a healthy Carey Price.
-- Pierre McGuire sits in with Ottawa’s TSN sports radio station and talks Team Europe in the World Cup, as well as a number of other things.
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger is already openly wondering what would happen in Canada if they lose to Team Europe in the best-of-three final to the World Cup.
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski asks Brad Marchand if a part of him has thought about playing with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins if he hits free agency. Bells, alarms and whistles should be going off on Causeway Street to give No. 63 whatever he wants at this point. In case you missed it, I talked about the danger of Crosby trying to woo his Nova Scotian buddy to Pittsburgh last week.
-- PHT writer James O’Brien says it sounds like the St. Louis Blues are going to play a more aggressive brand of hockey this season.
-- For something completely different: Forbes Magazine says Pete Carroll, not Bill Belichick, should be considered the NFL’s foremost cheater.