Silence to continue with suggested two-week break in NHL talks

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Silence to continue with suggested two-week break in NHL talks

The NHL and NHLPA negotiations have been quiet lately. Too quiet. And theyre reportedly about to get much quieter.

The Canadian Press reported late Thursday that league commissioner Gary Bettman has suggested a two-week moratorium on CBA talks. Its the latest wrinkle in a lockout thats had its share. Most have been negative; so is this one. After talking all of last week, the two sides have had little to say to each other since last Friday.

Now, the silence could truly become deafening. Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers said players are frustrated with this latest decision.

Weve shown a willingness to negotiate and move and weve been willing to get to 50 percent. Its how we get there, Mayers said. Were not accepting their current proposal on contract issues. If youve taken a look at them, some seem farfetched. Weve offered a solution for back-diving contracts. Weve offered quite a bit and its unfortunate that this is the way they see it. But thats the way it is.

But the NHL apparently doesnt see the players association as having offered much at all. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press from our perspective, weve made repeated moves in the players direction with absolutely no reciprocation. Unfortunately, we have determined we are involved with a union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement.

They have essentially made one proposal five times, Daly continued. They continue to request a guaranteed players share as part of the next agreement and we repeatedly tell the maybe they should get a reality check.

Blackhawks player representative Steve Montador said the moratorium is a suggestion that we follow their script. Although he added that, at the present moment, there isnt much to talk about.

NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr, in a statement to The Canadian Press, said we believe its more likely that well make progress if we meet than if we dont. So we are ready to meet. If indeed they dont want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that theyve shut down the dialogue, saying they will not meet unless the players meet their preconditions. What does that tell you about their interest in resolving this?

And so were back to bad blood, bitter talk and no progress. The league says the NHLPA doesnt want to negotiate, isnt interested in making a deal. The NHLPA has said the same about the league. And the potential of starting the season in early December seems all but impossible.

Now you wonder if another season is completely lost. Mayers, who went through the 2004-05 lockout, said he does think about that.

Im not getting any younger and Ive been on a year-to-year basis for a couple of years. It would certainly be disappointing to end my career this way, but you have to do things the right way, he said. Im aware it could happen. But I think theres a fair deal out there and its just about getting to it.

Asked about a potentially second canceled season, Montador said, I dont fear were nearing that place at all.

I think the majority of this negotiation is posturing and being on a rigid timeline, he said. With the way we have offered concessions to this point I feel a deal can be made. If we were to suggest no salary cap, then likely I'd say there won't be a season. We haven't done that yet and for now don't anticipate it. All along we've attempted to get a deal and Gary has just scooped our concessions up and continued to ask for more.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

In the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle is joined by Steve Konroyd and Tracey Myers following the Blackhawks 4-0 shutout win over the Coyotes.

The crew breaks down how the Blackhawks keep finding ways to win, how Marian Hossa has remained a top-six forward and how the team seems to have finally found some chemistry without Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford.

Listen to the latest episode below:

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

The Blackhawks weren’t exactly reeling — they had only lost two straight games, matching their longest losing streak of the season. Still, they didn’t like the direction in which they were going, especially offensively.

Tuesday was a test in terms of playing another game without Jonathan Toews, another game without Corey Crawford and finding a way against a team that’s struggled this season. The Blackhawks passed the test, finding their offense and denying the Arizona Coyotes in a 4-0 victory.

This week doesn’t get any easier for the Blackhawks, who might be without another top player. We’ll find out more about that in a few days. So before we call it a night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Coyotes.

1. Slow start, but another first-period lead. Seriously, I’m just going to type this paragraph up for every game and just switch out the name of the opponent. On Tuesday the Coyotes, who played Monday night in Columbus, outshot the Blackhawks early. But thanks to Artem Anisimov’s power-play goal, the Blackhawks led 1-0 after one. It wasn’t a shocker that the Coyotes came out strong early. But again, off the back-to-back, they looked like they were losing steam as the game continued.

2. Brent Seabrook does not return. Seabrook got tangled up with Jordan Martinook late in the second period and, after being down a few moments while holding his head, went to the locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Seabrook is on Wednesday — the Blackhawks don’t practice again until Thursday. The Blackhawks have good depth at defense, as we’ve seen throughout this season. Still, missing Seabrook is always a loss.

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3. Marian Hossa scores his 13th and 14th of the season. In some previous seasons that might not mean anything tremendous, other than the Blackhawks would take every one of them. But on Tuesday night, in his 27th game of the season, Hossa surpassed his goal total of last season (13 in 64 games). His second, a breakaway off a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson, put an exclamation point on this one. So, is it time to just admit Hossa is a cyborg? “I’d believe it. I wouldn’t put it past him,” Scott Darling said. “I still can’t believe how fast he is. He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever been with. He’s an impressive human being.”

4. Scott Darling with the shutout. Maybe it didn’t seem like that overwhelming of a shutout (22 stops), but it was a good outcome for the backup goaltender, who was tremendous on Sunday but nevertheless took the loss to Winnipeg. Darling was still facing a tough situation in the third period — seeing zip. The Coyotes didn’t get their first third-period shot on goal until there was less than six minutes remaining in it. “It’s not ideal. But I guess it’s better than seeing 30 shots in a period,” Darling said. “Beggars can’t be choosers. You just have to stay with it mentally.”

5. Quick strikes in the second period. We’re all familiar with 17 seconds. On Tuesday the Blackhawks had 19 seconds. They scored twice in that time frame (Hossa and Dennis Rasmussen). From that point on, the Blackhawks looked comfortable and confident. Said Quenneville, “We had the puck a lot more. That’s been what we’re trying to get to where we want to go. Tonight was a good step.”