Lockout continues amid latest proposals

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Lockout continues amid latest proposals

The NHL was still reviewing the NHLPAs latest proposal, one that looked to bridge the gap between the two parties, when the Blackhawks were wrapping up practice on Friday afternoon.

This is really our effort to save the season, Jamal Mayers said at the time. The reality is a lot of guys didnt want to go this far. But the hope is we can salvage a good chunk of the season if we can make a deal quickly here.

Jonathan Toews hoped it would lead to traction.

Both sides need to show desperation and lack of carelessness, I guess, is one way to put it. We have to show we want to get things done for each other and the fans, he said post practice. Well see how they react to it.

By midday on Friday, however, it looked like the league wasnt reacting very favorably to it.

There was no progress made on Friday, day 67 of the lockout, when the NHLPA offered a new five-year proposal to the league in New York. Some details of the latest proposal were in a memo from Fehr to the players, which was leaked to the media. In the memo, Fehr told players that it is now undisputed that the gap (between the league and PA) is only 182 million over five years.

Other details, according to the memo:

Honouring Players ContractsTransition payments: Players Share will equal 50 percent of HRR plus fixed payments in the first four years to partially honour player contracts and ease the transition to 5050:

2012-13 - 182M
2013-14 - 128M
2014-15 - 72M
2015-16 - 11M
Total 393M
The owners had previously proposed 211M

Long-term back-diving contracts Cap benefit recapture rule so clubs no longer benefit from front-loading contracts (move in the owners direction)

Contracts in the minors Clubs take a cap hit on contracts in the minors over 1M (move in the owners direction)

Four Recall Rule Unlimited recalls after regular season (move in the owners direction)

Salary Arbitration Elimination of walk-away from arbitrators decision, but clubs can still walk-away by not qualifying a player.

League commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters that the two sides were still far apart, yet offered some optimism.

Hopefully theres some momentum so we can bring this to a conclusion, he said.

The NHLPA planned to have a conference call with players later today. Fehr didnt sound quite as optimistic as he departed Fridays talks.

One of you is going to ask me what happens next, Fehr told reporters. And the answer is I don't know."

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

See the Blackhawks get off to a slow start. See the Blackhawks get outshot. See the Blackhawks lean on their goaltending. See the Blackhawks find some offense in the third period. See the Blackhawks win.

This is a story the Blackhawks have written and played out plenty this season. Despite all evidence that it should work out to the contrary, the Blackhawks continue to pull out victories. But as we're well into the second half of the season, how much longer can they win with this formula? And is this, more than anything, a testament to how much they need to acquire someone (or plural) at the deadline to bolster their forward lineup?

Entering Sunday night's game against Vancouver the Blackhawks remain second in the Western Conference, two points behind Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they enter Sunday coming off another one-goal victory, a 1-0 decision over Boston on Friday night. Friday's game was cut from the same cloth as so many other one-goal games this season (please see above for the script). 

Here's how the Blackhawks are doing in one-goal games (through 48 games played this season) and how they've done in previous seasons:

Year Record
2016-17 18-7-5
2015-16 17-7-9
2014-15 22-13-6
2013-14 17-8-15
2012-13 19-3-5 (lockout yr.)
2011-12 22-6-11
2010-11 16-13-9
2009-10 23-9-8

The Blackhawks played 41 one-goal games (half of their regular-season games) in the 2014-15 season. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. But again, it comes down to how you're winning those games, and the Blackhawks are winning just about all of them in the same way: deal with a slow start and come back in the third period, relying on goaltending the entire time.

Being outshot the amount of times the Blackhawks have this season remains alarming. Sure, sometimes a lot of shots don't mean a lot of quality chances. But it's still better than minimal shots, and any shot can be an opportunity for a rebound, a deflection, something. From our stats guru Chris Kamka, here's a breakdown of the Blackhawks' shots per game vs. opponents, dating back to 2008-09:

Year Shots/Gm Opp. Shots/Gm Diff.
2008-09 32.7 28.6 +4.2
2009-10 34.1 25.1 +9.1
2010-11 32.2 28.7 +3.6
2011-12 31.5 28.6 +3.0
2012-13 31.1 26.2 +4.9
2013-14 33.1 27.2 +6.0
2014-15 33.9 30.2 +3.8
2015-16 30.5 30.8 -0.3
2016-17 29.3 31.1 -1.7

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It's no surprise that the Blackhawks' differential was especially good in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons (and even 2013-14, when they went to the Western Conference Final). Those Blackhawks teams were deep, especially at forward. They weren't waiting for the perfect shooting opportunities as much as just firing. They had great four-line rotations, something they've sorely been lacking the past two seasons, which makes a difference with puck possession.

The Blackhawks will see what's available at the trade deadline. As I wrote a few days ago, there will be names out there but, considering some teams are still hoping for playoff spots, you take mentions for what they are right now. Over the next few weeks the picture will become clearer, and adding the right depth could rekindle that four-line rotation.

We've said throughout this season that the Blackhawks can't keep this up. We said it in November, and December, and now. Understand where we're coming from here; the Blackhawks can absolutely keep winning one-goal games. They've shown that in recent seasons and in the postseason, when the ability to do that is critical. But it's doubtful they can keep doing it the way they have most this season.