NHL, NHLPA meet separately with mediators Wednesday


NHL, NHLPA meet separately with mediators Wednesday

The NHL and NHLPA met in what began as an undisclosed location on Wednesday, and they probably hoped it would stay that way. That didnt happen. Onlookers (fans, media, etc.) watched Wednesdays meeting and hoped some progress would be made.

Doesnt seem like that happened, either.

The two sides met or as reported, met separately with federal mediators -- in New Jersey on Wednesday. But reports out of the talks state that not much progress was made toward a new collective bargaining agreement and an end to a lockout that has now reached Day 88.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters that, there is no conclusion to this round of the process right now.

Mediators reportedly told players that the leagues last offer was available if the union would accept it. But Brendan Morrison, who last played for the Chicago Blackhawks, told reporters the players still arent accepting that deal.

I thought the gap would be closed much quicker, but it hasnt come to fruition yet. So we have to keep working, Morrison said. Its good in a sense were here, and bad in a sense there is no progress.

It was the second time the two sides used mediators in negotiations. Two weeks ago mediators met with the league and PA for two days before deciding the sides were too far apart. Today, they talked with each side separately. Basically, it proved futile both times.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told reporters, there were discussions of the various issues involved and now far apart we are and where we go from here. I cant tell you that any progress was made.

There are no new talks planned at the moment.

Blackhawks defenseman (and player representative) Steve Montador and forward Jamal Mayers were also at Wednesdays meeting.

Its extremely frustrating where we are, said Mayers, who talked of how close on Monday. The league maintains thats not the case. The leagues package deal, or take-it-or-leave-it offer, makes completing a deal difficult, considering all our movement in last Thursdays proposal.

Games are currently canceled through Dec. 30. Still, some optimism remains that the two sides will work things out and salvage a partial season. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who has played overseas with EHC Biel (Switzerland), is currently back in Chicago. Hes scheduled to go back to Switzerland on Sunday if the lockout remains unresolved; but he hopes things are, and that he stays to prepare for training camp instead.

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.

Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.

“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”

Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.

The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.

A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.

A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.

Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.

Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.