Players: NHL owners' offer is more of the same


Players: NHL owners' offer is more of the same

The National Hockey League Players Association met with NHL owners and commissioner Gary Bettman on Wednesday in New York City, and the result was more of the same.

There's still no deal.

Both sides made proposals, with the players making theirs first. It was followed up with a counterproposal by the league. Needless to say, the players still aren't happy with what they league is coming back to them with.

According to a player who attended the early-afternoon meeting, the league's counterproposal isn't much different than its last one.

"Owners are going to say they changed a lot, but they did not, when you actually do the math," said the player.

"They like to shape it that they're giving us money. But all they're doing is slightly lessening how much they want to take."

Economic issues seem to be the only -- or at least the biggest -- barrier in the way of there being hockey this season. And the players, at least, feel like they're making the necessary concessions to make a deal.

"They came to us with problems, which we are trying to address," said a player involved in Wednesday's meeting. "And they just want a money grab in the form of escrow."

According to that player inside the meeting, the NHLPA made its proposal first. And once again, the players made more concessions that, according to the player, "significantly limit" their share growth over the next few years.

"We're willing to take less over the next few years to help the owners," said the player. "But they need to be willing to help each other as well."

With a Sept. 15 deadline looming, the player also re-iterated that that date doesn't mean much, other than the fact that Bettman has threatened a lockout.

"There's no reason that September 15 is important, other than the owners said they would lock us out," he said. "But not much changed from their side, so it gives us one less day to work."

The NHLPA will now have their own internal meetings in New York City the next two days, which will be "the most attended meeting so far," according to one player. The owners will also have their own internal meetings, on Thursday.

A player involved in Wednesday's meetings said he "doubts" the two sides will go back to the drawing board on Thursday, but also said that "talks are still open" and that both parties will "continually be in touch."

"We have to reassess after that, and see if the owners decide to start negotiating for real, to deal with their own issues," he said.

"We're still determined. We want to make sure that the league is healthier after this process. And we're just looking to get a fair deal."

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.

The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat. 

There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.

David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.

“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.

“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.

“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”

The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season. 


After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today: