Monthly Archives: August 2012

Work stoppage looming … Wings cancel NHL Prospects Tournament

Just one day after the NHL Players’ Association presented a counter proposal to the owners, the Wings have cancelled their annual NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.

Here’s the release from the team.

RED WINGS CANCEL 2012 PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT
… Annual Traverse City Event will Return in 2013 …

Detroit, MI…Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President/General Manager Ken Holland today announced that the Red Wings will not host their annual NHL Prospects Tournament at the Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City, Mich.

“The Red Wings, the staff at Centre ICE Arena and the countless volunteers throughout the Traverse City area have worked hand-in-hand to develop one of the most popular and professionally operated prospects tournaments in all of hockey,” said Holland. “Due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families, etc. we have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s tournament. The Red Wings and the seven other NHL teams that were scheduled to participate are committed to returning to Traverse City in 2013 and continuing with this tremendous tournament.”

The eight teams that were scheduled to participate include the Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues.

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Not the kind of news hockey fans wanted to hear … NHL prepared to lockout players if no deal by Sept. 15

The NHL appears to be heading towards a lockout, unless a deal can get done in a month and one week.

Here’s a story from The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — With time running out on NHL labor talks, commissioner Gary Bettman cautioned Thursday that the league is prepared to lock out its players if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Sept. 15, when the current deal expires.

“Time is running short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season, so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon,” Bettman said after the two sides met at the league headquarters.

When asked if Sept. 15 is a hard deadline, Bettman said, “Our efforts are going to be devoted to trying to make a deal.” He then reiterated his previous statement that owners aren’t prepared to operate under the current system.

Saying a “wide gap” still existed between the two sides on numerous issues, Bettman added the potential for a lockout is something the NHL Players’ Association has been aware of for much of the past year.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr referred to the split as “a meaningful gulf.”

Fehr returned to the negotiating table after a trip to Europe, where he met with players in Moscow and Barcelona.

The NHLPA head did not have an immediate response to Bettman’s comments, because he spoke before the commissioner made himself available to reporters. Fehr did reiterate the union is open to continuing talks beyond Sept. 15 if no deal is reached, and entering the season under the current system.

“Under the law, if an agreement expires, that may give someone the legal ability to go on strike or impose a lockout,” Fehr said. “There’s no requirement that they do so, and if nobody does anything, you continue to work under the old conditions until they do change. … So if there’s lockout, somebody has to choose to do this.”

Talks are scheduled to continue Friday in New York, before shifting to the union’s headquarters in Toronto next week. That’s when Fehr expects to make a formal counteroffer to the league’s initial proposal.

The union did make a presentation to the NHL on Thursday, outlining some of its economic positions in response to what the league has put on the table.

The NHL is proposing to cut players’ share of revenues from 57 percent to 46 — and that percentage drops to 43 when taking into account revenues the NHL deems should not be shared with players. That would translate into as much as a $450 million shift in revenue in the owners’ favor.

The league is also seeking to restrict free agency on several fronts. That includes limiting length of contracts to five years (there are currently no limits in place); lengthening the time a player must wait to be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent from seven years to 10; and eliminating players’ rights to salary arbitration.

Fehr, on Thursday, said the NHL is essentially asking its players to pick up all the costs in a new deal. He also questioned whether NHL teams have any desire to share revenues among themselves to maintain a level of parity.

Without going into detail, Bettman said the NHL does intend to continue to have revenue sharing in what he called “an enhanced way.”

Bettman did confirm that the NHL is seeking to decrease the players’ share.

“We start from the premise that the fundamental proposal, our initial proposal, relates to the fact that we need to be paying out less in player costs,” Bettman said.

Wings interested in Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester

DETROIT — After striking out on two top defensemen in the unrestricted and restricted pool, the Wings have turned their sites on acquiring one by trade.

A source confirmed that Detroit has been in contact with the Calgary Flames about trading for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

The Wings’ interest in Bouwmeester, who turns 29 next month, was first reported by mlive.com.

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.

However, Bouwmeester comes with a hefty price tag, $6.68 million for each of the next two seasons.

Pavel Datsyuk is the highest paid Wing at $6.7 million a season.

Despite not producing much offense like many thought he would, Bouwmeester does gobble up the minutes on the blue line and is durable. He has played in 588 consecutive game.

The Flames have been hinting of dealing Bouwmeester since signing Dennis Wideman to a five-year, at $5.25 million deal a season. That took Calgary, which signed former Wing Jiri Hudler to a four-year deal with $4 million a season, close to hitting the $70.2 million salary gap. The Flames currently are at $66.6 million.

The Wings are $13 million under the salary cap.

The Flyers could also have interest in Bouwmeester after losing out on Weber and getting the news that defenseman Andrej Meszaros will be sidelined for quite some time after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.