Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lockout next?

Things continue to be heading in the direction of a lockout by the NHL owners as negotiations broke today between the two sides.

Here is the story from

NEW YORK — Don Fehr says that collective bargaining talks with the league are “recessed.”

The executive director of the NHL Players’ Association said the NHL requested the hiatus after the union presented its latest proposal.

The union attempted to get an agreement on the fourth year of its initial offer, but Fehr said the league was unwilling to do that. The union’s initial deal included a lower share of revenue for players over the first three years of the offer and a return to the current level of 57 per cent in the fourth.

“We proposed several concepts for the fourth year that would allow the fourth year to be something less than 57 per cent of revenues,” Fehr said. “The suggestion was that if we could get over the fourth year and their objection to the 57-per-cent snapback that would give us an opportunity to move forward.

“Unfortunately, so far at least, that proposal we made today did not bear fruit.”

League commissioner Gary Bettman said the suggestions put forth by the Players’ Association didn’t adequately address the fourth-year stumbling block.

“In the final analysis the emphasis was on returning back to 57 per cent in the fourth year, which obviously isn’t acceptable,” he said.

The NHLPA plans to remain in New York for the next two weeks and will be willing to restart negotiations whenever the league is ready.

However, Fehr said either side could restart talks and the he expected neither “would stand on ceremony.”

The NHLPA’s latest offer came three days after the NHL made its first counter-proposal. After asking the players to cut their share of hockey revenue from 57 to 43 per cent, the NHL upped its proposal to have the players get a 46 per cent share over a six-year deal.

Bettman said the players’ offer wasn’t a proper counter-proposal to the offer the league tabled earlier this week, and said the union was not adequately addressing the economic issues facing the business.

“What I thought was starting as a promising week after we made our substantial counter-proposal on Tuesday, ends I guess you could say in disappointment,” Bettman said. “We did not get a proposal from the union. I call it more of a response.”

Bettman said either side could resume talks if they had something to bring to the table, but said there is nothing forthcoming.

“There’s nothing scheduled because there’s nothing that we’re prepared to say in light of the fact there was really no substantive movement on the economics,” he said.

The CBA expires Sept. 15 and the league has said it will lock out its players if a new agreement isn’t in place by then.

The current CBA was reached after acrimonious negotiations that saw the league lock out players and cancel the entire 2004-05 season. The league won a hard salary cap in that agreement, and Fehr says the league has posted record revenues the past few years.

“Given those to things, the players’ overall feeling is they are not prepared to, and don’t feel it’s appropriate to, see an absolute further reduction in their aggregate salaries,” Fehr said.

The union is also proposing greater revenue sharing to help out less financially sound teams, something Bettman called a “distraction.”

“As we’ve made clear you’ve got to deal with the fundamental economics,” he said. “We don’t believe revenue sharing addresses the issues that need to be addressed.”

Brunner in the U.S.

DETROIT — Forward Damien Brunner is skating with other NHLers in Minnesota and should arrive in Detroit when players begin skating on their own within the next couple of weeks.

“Brunner will get acclimatized and comfortable,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’ll go back to play in Switzerland is there is no CBA.”

Brunner, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Wings this offseason, could earn $1.35 million this season if he stays in Detroit. His base salary is $925,000 and he will get a $92,500 signing bonus. There are also $425,000 in performance bonuses he could earn.

If he doesn’t make the team he will earn $70,000 in Grand Rapids.

Brunner led the Swiss League in scoring last season.

“He’ll be a top six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Swiss-sniper. “I know a lot about him because I went to the World Championships and watched him play.

“The thing for us is he’s high paced, he scored, he looks like he has tons of skill,” Babcock added. “Can he adjust and play in the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity.”

The Wings also like that Brunner is a right-handed shot.

“Our top six, (Johan) Franzen and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Valtteri Filppula) are all left-hand shots, this is a right-hand shot, who plays fast,” Babcock said.

Brunner, 26, is a fast-skating, highly skilled winger that totaled 24 goals and 34 assists in 45 games with Zug of Switzerland’s National League A.

Babcock also envisions Brunner playing on the power play.

“He loves to score goals,” Babcock said. “The way I look at it is that you have to make decisions and try to get better. We’ve been able to encourage the kid to join us. He could have gone anywhere he wanted, he chose to be a Red Wing.”

Wings continue talks with Abdelkader; still no decision on Holmstrom

DETROIT — The Wings and restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader continue to talk on a new deal.

“I believe we’re close,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

The Wings would like to get Abdelkader, who didn’t file for salary arbitration, to sign a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season.

He earned $825,000 last season.

Holland has talked to Tomas Holmstrom regarding what his plans are for the upcoming season, but there has been no decision made.

With the additions of Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Damien Brunner up front, Holmstrom may opt to retire rather than fight for a spot in training camp.

Wings ‘not close to signing anybody’

DETROIT – As the NHL and its players limp to the Sept. 15 deadline of a possible lockout, the Wings continue to have a pressing need along their blue line where they still have just six defensemen under contract.

“We need to sign another defenseman or two,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There are some veteran defensemen out there looking for an opportunity. I’m having conversations.”

Last Friday, a source confirmed that Detroit had offered often-injured Carlo Colaiacovo a two-year deal worth $2.7 million a season.

Colaiacovo, who reportedly is looking for a three-year deal and was originally offered a one-year deal by the Wings, hasn’t played more than 67 games in any season.

“We’re not close to signing anybody,” said Holland, who didn’t know if they would be able to sign one or two defensemen before Sept. 15.

The Wings are in need of a top four defenseman after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason.

The Wings, who are $13 million under the salary cap, have Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl under contract for next season.

Earlier this month, a source confirmed that the Wings had been in contact with the Calgary Flames about trading for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

They made a pitch for unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.

After losing out on him the Wings turned their attention to signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet. Weber, however, chose to sign an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers and it was matched by the Nashville Predators.

The organization isn’t thrilled with what is left on the open market – Michal Rozsival (Phoenix), Pavel Kubina (Philadelphia), Mark Eaton (New York Islanders), Brett Clark (Tampa Bay) and Milan Jurcina (New York Islanders) – and may wait until the collective bargaining agreement is reached.

If the salary cap goes down, teams may be forced to trim salary and perhaps leave a top four defenseman looking for work.

NHL makes “significant’ counter-proposal to players

From The Canadian Press

NEW YORK — Gary Bettman believes the NHL took a “significant” step with the counter-proposal it presented in the latest round of collective bargaining.

The commissioner laid out the details of a new offer to the NHL Players’ Association on Tuesday morning and later told reporters that it was an improvement from the initial offer put forth by the NHL last month.

“We believe that we made a significant, meaningful step,” said Bettman.

Neither side would discuss specific elements of the new deal. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr gave an initial response to the league on Tuesday afternoon and requested that the parties gather again Wednesday after the union has had more time to examine it.

“It’s a proposal that we intend to respond to,” said Fehr. “I’ll leave it at that.”

The current collective agreement expires Sept. 15 and the NHL has it will lock the players out if a new deal isn’t reached by then.

Until now, the owners and players have had trouble getting on the same page with discussions. Bettman indicated the league’s new offer was a direct counter-proposal to the offer the players put forth two weeks ago and hopes it helps spark negotiations.

“I’m trying to get us on to the same page, I’m trying to get us on to a common language,” he said.

The proposal was unveiled in an intimate setting, with only Fehr and top assistant Steve Fehr in the room for the players and Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly for the players. The morning meeting lasted about 45 minutes and concluded with Fehr saying he wanted to apprise his constituents of the situation.

About four hours later, the Fehr brothers returned to the NHL’s head office along with players Mathieu Darche, Ron Hainsey and Douglas Murray.

The afternoon session was over in about 30 minutes, with both sides agreeing to meet again on Wednesday. Fehr said he expects to have more players in town to consult with.

The NHLPA didn’t give any indication if it shared Bettman’s view on how meaningful the new proposal was, although Darche expressed some hope about the process.

“I’m encouraged that we’re talking, to be honest with you,” he said, while adding that it’s obvious the league took time to come up with the new proposal.

The sides have turned to smaller groups in an effort to bridge a considerable gap in talks.

Bettman, Daly and the Fehr brothers also sat down together last week in Toronto, but they’ve been unable to agree on the general framework that will shape the next agreement so far.

Wings make a pitch for Colaiacovo

DETROIT — The Wings have made an offer to Carlo Colaiacovo according to a someone within the organization.

Detroit has offered him a two-year deal worth $2.7 million a season.

It’s just one more defenseman the Wings have tried to add this offseason.

Earlier this month, a source confirmed that Detroit has been in contact with the Calgary Flames about trading for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

The Wings are in need of a top four defensemen, which there are none left on the open market and therefore a trade may need to be made in order to fill that void.

The Wings had a distinct game plan once free agency started after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade).

They made pitches to the unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.

After losing out on him the Wings turned their attention to signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet. Weber however chose to sign an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers and it was matched by the Nashville Predators.

The Flyers offered Weber $110 million over 14 years.

The Wings currently have six defensemen under contract — Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl.

The Wings are $13 million under the salary cap.

Colaiacovo, who was drafted 17th overall by Toronto in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has been bothered by injuries that has hindered his career.

NHL CBA Talks Update

Earlier today, The National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association met for about two hours in Toronto. According to TSN.CA, the two sides held discussions and decided to go back and discuss their meeting with their respective groups. The afternoon bargaining session that was scheduled for 1 pm ET was cancelled. This is the 1st time in more than a week that the two sides have met. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, continues to re-iterate, with no new CBA in-place by September 15, there will be a lockout. Stay tuned for more updates as the countdown continues.