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.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

There are a lot of similarities between the Blackhawks and the New York Rangers. Both have a nice record to start this season and both are getting through recent injuries as best they can.

And thanks to their goaltending, they had a pretty fun little battle on Friday night.

Antti Raanta edged Scott Darling as the Rangers took a 1-0 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Friday. It was surprising that Raanta got the start, only because he had started for the Rangers on Thursday against Winnipeg. But he’s been hot, he’s good at the United Center in his career and obviously it was the right decision.

The Blackhawks are back at it on Sunday against another team going through its injury issues, the Dallas Stars. Before then, however, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Rangers.

1. A familiar goalie duel. Two seasons ago Scott Darling and Antti Raanta were fighting for the Blackhawks’ backup goaltending spot. So it seemed fitting that they face each other on Friday night. They didn’t disappoint. Each goaltender had his share of stellar stops, many coming in the second period as each team looked for an edge. Raanta got the victory, running his record at the United Center to 15-0-3. The two had a quick, good-natured talk at the end of the game. “It was all friendly,” Darling said. “We were just saying, ‘good job’ and we’re happy for one another.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

2. Kane alright. Patrick Kane got the concussion protocol call in the second period a few moments after he was hit into the glass by Nick Holden. After Kane was called for high-sticking he was sent to the locker room, returning as the Blackhawks went on their first power play of the night at 17:28 of the second period.

3. The Rangers’ successful challenge. Just when you thought the Blackhawks were taking a 1-0 lead the third period (Marian Hossa), the Rangers challenged for offside. They won, nullifying Hossa’s attempt at his 15th goal of the season. Hossa was disappointed, and is frustrated at how some of the rule changes are taking away goals when the league is trying to increase scoring. Coach Joel Quenneville, when asked if he’d like the rule changed if he could, laughed. “Right now? Sure.”

4. A better all-around game. We may be harping on the Blackhawks’ injury situation but when you’re missing three key guys (Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford) it’s going to alter your game. But the Blackhawks played a strong all-around game against the Rangers and had some good scoring chances. All things considered, and against a very good Rangers team, Quenneville liked what he saw. “We know they’re a dangerous team off the rush, a lot of guys can make plays, a ton of speed. You have to respect that in ways and they check well in their own end,” Quenneville said. “I thought we did some good things. I think on the rush game we did a good job of taking away that danger.”

5. When will the Blackhawks return to health? Yeah, we’re looking ahead a little bit on this one, and we may have a clearer picture by Saturday morning. If Toews and Seabrook are skating and come out of the session well, there’s a chance they could play on Sunday. The Blackhawks have done alright despite the injuries. But you have to wonder when they start feeling a bit depleted.