Boston Bruins

Haggerty: Why today's NHL offer won't be accepted, and why that's OK

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Haggerty: Why today's NHL offer won't be accepted, and why that's OK

Lets start with this: The 5050 offer made by the NHL on Tuesday isnt going to be accepted by the players.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing as much as its a negotiating thing. Gary Bettman and the 30 NHL overlords finally got the serious talks rolling on Tuesday when they submitted an offer that would preserve an 82-game schedule that would begin on Nov. 2.

We believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it's one that we hope gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on November 2 -- which backing up, entails at least a one-week training camp, said Bettman. So we have about nine or ten days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered, in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward.

We hope that this effort that we've undertaken today would be successful because we know how difficult this all has been for everybody associated with the game, particularly our fans.

Here are the cold hard details:

The league would institute a week-long training camp followed by an NHL season where missed games would be added to the back end of the schedule.

The offer would also immediately drop the players share of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) to a 5050 split from the current 57 percent level, and would require considerable escrow considerations. It would also require the NHL to pay back the salary lost by players in Year 1 through a series of payment installments over the life of the players contract.

The NHL also backed off slightly on player contract terms. They added another year to make it eight years of service or 28 years old before free agency. The league will keep entry level contracts at three years. It will also keep salary arbitration and would cap all contract terms to a maximum of five years in length.

A few quick thoughts on all of this:

1) The offer clearly puts the pressure on Donald Fehr and the NHLPA as they now have roughly 10 days to work off this proposal and find a way to get something done before both sides give up on an 82-game schedule. Its a lead pipe lock that the players union wont accept this offer fully (they may want to see more revenue sharing, a longer term limit on contracts and the current free agency terms, among other things), but it is something they can work off of to make a workable deal moving forward. Fehr has a reputation as a deal-maker and everybody will now get to see how he makes something happen with a group of players that clearly want to get back to playing hockey. For a league that had its focus group strategy revealed yesterday, its both a clever PR move and a good negotiating strategy that makes the players look greedy if they dont embrace a 5050 split that everybody seemed to see coming.

2) Why did it take this long for a real offer from the league? Its pretty clear the NHL was in no hurry to get things moving with a legit offer, and was happy to miss the first month of the season while waiting to see if Fehr and the NHLPA would crumble in front of them. The league has knocked out one of the slow months of the season that typically kills the non-traditional markets, and will instead sprinkle in games toward the end of the season that will provide good attendance throughout the league. Theoretically keeping an 82-game schedule in a condensed time period could hike Hockey Related Revenue beyond last years numbers. In the end the league is going win this negotiation because this was their plan all along, and only a strong reaction from Fehr and the players could turn this into a lost season proposition. I just dont see that happening at this point.

3) Fehr had told the players during group conference calls and meetings that he didnt have anything he could work off of in negotiations during the previous two months. That led to plenty of wasted time discussing things that didnt really matter in the grand scheme of things. The NHLPA now something Fehr can work off of and almost two weeks to make it happen while the NHL sits and waits. Expect a counter-proposal within a couple of days and some serious discussions leading up through next week as both sides attempt to make something happen. If they can find a middle ground and make an 82-game season possible with a Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend and all of the other fixings that hockey fans have become accustomed to, then nobody is going to remember the hyperbole and heated words leading up to a new CBA once the playoffs roll around.

Things clearly arent a done deal after todays offer from the NHL, and there is legitimacy in those that fear this is some kind of Frank Luntz-crafted maneuver simply to start winning the PR war. But if it also opens the door for a deal to be consummated in the next two weeks by Bettman and Fehr, nobody is really going to care why it happened in the first place.

The fans have spoken loudly and clearly, and they just want the NHL back. That reality isnt a fait accompli, but its one step closer to being one after today.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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