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The players emerged from the room around midnight and scurried down the hotel escalator past reporters, unwilling to share much, if anything.
The smiles on some of their faces, however, suggested it wasn’t a bad day at all.
As one player would later share via text message to ESPN.com, “There was certainly traction. But I don’t want to say more.”
That cautious optimism — the key word being cautious — was on full display when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA outside counsel Steve Fehr stood shoulder to shoulder in a joint media availability after the marathon sessions, Fehr calling it possibly the best day in the entire process, while Daly nodded in agreement.
But other than that, both sides were tight-lipped. Like a pitcher working on a no-hitter through six innings, it’s too early to get too excited.
I’d be ready to say this, however: I’m willing to bet there’s a far greater chance of hockey this season than not after Tuesday’s developments.
At the center of this fragile momentum is the presence of the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by reclusive billionaire owner Ron Burkle, who shined brightly in talks Tuesday, according to sources, the players receptive to his tone.
Burkle’s first appearance in labor talks comes at a critical time in the process, with both sides having tried nearly everything else — mediation, large group meetings, small group meetings, etc.
After an awkward, five-month exit from the St. Louis Blues as president of hockey operations, John Davidson finally became a free agent yesterday when his contract buyout was completed.
Don’t expect him to stay on the market long, even though the NHL is mired in a frigid lockout.
“If the phone rings, I’ll listen,” Davidson said. “That (Blues) chapter is closed. Now we open another one.”
Davidson, an NHL goaltender, broadcaster and executive during a 40-year career in the league, said he wanted to secure his departure from St. Louis before he began looking for his “next challenge.”
He did not rule out joining the Blue Jackets’ hockey operations department. Actually, he sounded quite intrigued by it, recalling a meeting on May 29 that he had with Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell and president Mike Priest.
“The only team I’ve met with during this process is the Blue Jackets,” Davidson said. “And that was good. That was real good. I’d meet with them again, absolutely. We had a very productive discussion, just sharing thoughts and getting an understanding for what they feel about their franchise.
Well, it’s Day 9 of the NHL lockout, and there remains a distinct lack of urgency from the league and the NHLPA.
Even with 61 preseason games (and probably 1 per cent of hockey-related revenues) already wiped out, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have had hardly any negotiating sessions, prolonging a stalemate that appears its headed for at least December.
So if they’re not going to sit down and hammer this thing out, we’ll have to step in and act as an impartial mediator by putting together a compromise for both sides.
(In case you haven’t seen it, the two proposals currently on the table are spelled out in detail here.)
Those offers put the two sides at least $1-billion apart depending on how league revenues grow over the coming years, but there is a deal to be had somewhere in the middle of all this.
And the answer to how to settle this thing is with a new agreement neither side is going to like all that much.
Step 1: Let the players keep the $1.87-billion they earned last season – and not a penny more.
The union’s offer comes with a 2 per cent raise in Year 1, but it’s become clear in negotiations that that’s just not going to fly.
And the league wants players to take a big pay cut via escrow next season that won’t work either.
The players have dug in on this one, and it’s really not too much to ask in Year 1 of the deal. If NHL revenues grow at 6.3 per cent (which is roughly what they’ve averaged the last eight years minus the effects of the Canadian dollar), that $1.87-billion will drop the players’ share to 53.6 per cent.
And it’ll slowly trail down from there.
Trade Man is on holiday for another week or so. After that regular updates will resume as normal.
Shane Doan deadlines have been kind of like Roberto Luongo trade rumours.
The quantity has only been matched by the unreliability.
Doan has set another one for today. Greg Jamison indicated to Doan’s camp he could be in possession of the Phoenix Coyotes by today (yeah, right), or at least be in a position to say it’s going to happen soon (yeah, right).
If not, and there have been reports Jamison’s bid is unravelling, Doan’s agent Terry Bross vowed he will “begin aggressively negotiating with other teams.”
It’s about time he makes a deadline stick.
At this point, even if the Phoenix ownership situation stabilizes, there’s no guarantee the Coyotes, a franchise without much money, can even afford Doan. The market has been set, and it’s pricey.
The Red Wings could well add prize free agent defenseman Ryan Suter to their lineup today, but as the market opened Sunday, they already got started on forging a fiercer team.
They add a big, promising goaltender in Jonas Gustavsson, help for the power play in Mikael Samuelsson and grit in Jordin Tootoo. They also made forward Damien Brunner official, announcing they’d signed the coveted Swiss forward after he had agreed to terms last month.
The Wings are in the process of upgrading after losing in the first round of the playoffs in April, followed a month later by the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and departure of Brad Stuart, both of whom were top-four defensemen. Their top targets are Suter and forward Zach Parise, and general manager Ken Holland made offers to both early Sunday afternoon. Neither was expected to make a decision before today, but the Wings are among the front-runners for Suter.
The Wings remain interested in Columbus superstar Rick Nash but are disadvantaged by needing to make an offer so sweet it will entice the Blue Jackets to trade the face of their franchise to a team within the Central Division.
The Rangers appear to have a considerable amount of cap space with which to maneuver in reconstructing for next year, but with the labor agreement set to expire on Sept. 15, it’s anybody’s guess as to exactly how much.
The Blueshirts will have approximately $20 million of space under a summer cap that’s likely to be in the neighborhood of $76M, but it’s impossible to know whether the 2012-13 cap will exceed, be equal to, or decrease from last season’s $64.3M when it’s reset under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Similarly, it is unknown whether any of the systems regulations will change as applied to calculating the cap, whether the players will ultimately accept a rollback (unlikely) if locked out (likely), and whether amnesty buyouts will be part of the picture.
The Wings had the option of using MacDonald in that role last season, and still pursued other goaltenders. They went after Tomas Vokoun when free agency began July 1, but couldn’t compete with Washington’s offer of $1.5 million and a shot at the starting spot. Ultimately, the Wings signed Ty Conklin, whom they had in ’08-09. There’s little chance Conklin will return after he went 5-6-1 with a 3.28 GAA and .884 save percentage.
Has there been a hotter ticket than New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise on the free-agent stage in the last 10 years?
You can see how badly he wants to win, the pistons pumping as he hunts down a loose puck in the neutral zone and sends it into the open net to ensure the Game 5 win for the Devils at Madison Square Garden.
He’s the engine that drives the Devils, with due respect to the big wheel Ilya Kovalchuk, who is much better than I thought he’d ever be when they gave him that lifetime contract as a free agent.
Dominik Hasek, one of the best goaltenders to play in the NHL, is reportedly interested in making a return to the NHL at age 47.
Hasek has reportedly told several Czech publications he’s exploring the possibility of making a comeback and playing in the NHL.
Dominik Hasek is considering making a comeback at age 47. (AP Photo)
Ritch Winter, Hasek’s agent, told Czech publication Isport.cz, that he did not know of any negotiations going on.
Now the clock has been set on the Ducks and their ability to reel in their big fish.
TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported on his Twitter account Friday that prized Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz has filed paperwork to leave school with the intention of turning pro.
It means that the Ducks now have a 30-day exclusivity window to negotiate with Schultz in the hopes of getting their 2008 second-round draft pick under contract. The club is expected to begin discussions with his representatives shortly.
The Coyotes enter the off-season with six unrestricted free agents on their tab — including captain Shane Doan. Not only could a handicapped budget mandated by the league dictate whether he and a few of his peers stay, but the sideshow that’s evolved without an owner is also a factor and could affect their decision to stay with the organization.
“I don’t want to go through another year and be a doormat in the league where you don’t have ownership and people to stand up for you,” veteran and unrestricted free agent (UFA) Ray Whitney said.
Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault let the cat out of the bag on French language TV: Goalie Roberto Luongo does indeed want a trade out of Vancouver.
Speaking over the telephone to a Montreal-based TVA Sports show called Le Match, Vigneault was asked if he agreed that Luongo needed a fresh start. (Vigneault was on the show Wednesday night to discuss his contract extension.)
“First of all, that is what he wants right now,” Vigneault said in the translated quote. “What we need to do is what’s best for our organization and our team. We have to look at what’s best for our organization and Roberto.”