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.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.