Lengthy meetings still lacking progress

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Lengthy meetings still lacking progress

So much for lengthy talks getting the NHL and NHLPA anywhere in their quest for a new collective bargaining agreement. After a weeks worth of talking in New York City, it appears the sides are no closer to getting a deal done than they were when they began on Tuesday.

The league and players association had three more talks on Friday, but little if anything was accomplished regarding a new CBA. And based on a leaked memo (obtained from Pro Hockey Talk) from NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr to the players, theres still a big gap between the two parties. In the memo, Fehr said the league still wants more than the future salaries the NHLPA has offered.

Then, later on Friday, things took an interesting turn. NHL sources, citing that memo, told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Fehr didnt fully inform players of the leagues latest offer.

The Star-Tribune reported the NHL would guarantee existing contracts at 1.883 billion (or their 57 percent revenue share from last season). Players would agree to an immediate 50-50 split; but a reduced portion of their salaries (12.3 percent) would be deferred one or two years. It would be repaid with interest from one year to the next and by the third year, every contract would be made whole.

Fehr disputed this when he spoke to reporters late Friday night, saying that players would not be receiving the full value of their contracts.

Fehr said hes informed the players of every proposal the league has made, and added that the players association doesnt think the gap on core economics is as wide as the league does. That last statement differs from what Fehr said in the memo to players on Thursday, when he stated theres still a lot of work to be done and bridges to be crossed before an agreement can be made.

Several Blackhawks past and present, including Jonathan Toews, Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers and Troy Brouwer have often said Fehr has kept players in the loop on talks progress and proposals.

Montador, the Blackhawks player representative, called the accusations toward Fehr laughable.

Its clearly a tactic to drive a wedge between Don and the players. Its nothing but a reiteration of how strong we are, Montador said. Its laughable, really, that the league would resort to tactics like this. They locked us out when they didnt have to, and we didnt want it, weve conceded massive amounts of dollars in their favor (this time and 7 years ago) and we say enough is enough, and now this. They're trying anything now.

Brouwer talked earlier this week of the NHLPAs weekly conference calls.

We always have them to inform players to make sure everyones up to speed, he said. Anyone whos an NHLPA member can jump on so everyone knows whats going on.

So here we sit once again: only this time both sides are talking and the situation still isnt closer to being solved. Gary Bettman talked to reporters following Fridays meeting.

I don't want to raise or lower expectations, he said. I won't be happy until we get to the end result and that means we are playing again.

Bettman said he would also do whatever it takes to continue talks with the players association through the weekend.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

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