Archive for August, 2012

Ugly CBA negotiations? The NHL? Get out of town

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Negotiations for new collective bargaining agreements tend to get messy, and NHL CBA negotiations (at least recently), tend to result in lockouts. Unfortunately, the news is that there haven’t been any surprises thus far.

Earlier this week, NHL Players’ Association head Donald Fehr said that a counterproposal to the league’s first offer was forthcoming, with it later being determined that folks can expect it to be delivered next Tuesday. The counterproposal is highly anticipated, as the league’s first offer was shocking — it called for an 11-percent giveback of hockey-related revenue on the players’ part, the end of arbitration, and a five-year limit on contracts, among other stipulations. When the NHLPA asked for more financial particulars before countering, the league buried them with some 76,000 pages of documents from the various teams.

Games technically could have been played if a new agreement wasn’t reached by Sept. 15, the expiration of the current CBA, but on Thursday commissioner Gary Bettman crushed the dreams of any fans hoping for that.

“We reiterated to the union that the owners will not play another year under the current agreement,” Bettman told reporters Thursday. “I re-confirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last nine to 12 months. Namely, that the time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon. And we believe there’s ample time for the parties to get together and make a deal and that’s what we’re going to be working towards.”

The players didn’t exactly dig any of that chatter. Here’s Henrik Lundqvist‘s reaction, via twitter:

“The @NHL says they won’€™t play past Sept 15th under current deal. Apparently they don’€™t like the deal they designed. #CBA #nhlpa2012″

And Brandon Prust‘s:

“Disappointed the League is talking about a lockout before we even give our @NHLPA counterproposal”

The bottom line is that nothing — neither Bettman’s comments or players’ reactions — should be surprising. No CBA by Sept. 15 equals a lockout . The only thing learned thus far is that this will get messy. Unfortunately with the NHL, everyone should have already known that.

Malcolm Subban, Dougie Hamilton lead Canadian Junior team past Russia

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

A pair of Bruins prospects stole the show in the first game of the four-game Canada-Russian challenge Thursday as Canada beat Russia, 3-2, in Yaroslavl.

Malcolm Subban, Boston’s first-round pick (24th overall) in June’s draft, was named Canada’s player of the game as he stopped 19 of 21 shots, 11 of which came in the third period. One of the two goals he yielded was to Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick by the Oilers.

Subban wasn’t the only Boston prospect to come up big for Canada, as defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored an unassisted power play goal in the second period that proved to be the game-winner. The two countries will play again Friday before the series concludes with a pair of games Monday and Tuesday in Halifax.

There was a moment of silence prior to the game to remember the members of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl who lost their lives in last year’s plane crash. Among the victims were former NHLers Ruslan Salei, Kārlis SkrastiņÅ¡, Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev.

NHLPA reportedly close to making counterproposal

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

According to Chris Johnson of the Canadian Press, NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr is close to making a counteroffer to the league nearly one month after the league made its initial proposal.

Eyebrows were raised last month when the league’s first offer asked for an 11-percent giveback on hockey-related revenue and a five-year limit on contracts, among other things, though the fact that it was the first proposal suggests the league was hardly adamant regarding its stipulations.

Since then, Fehr has requested further information from the league and was given around 76,000 pages of audited financial statements. The two sides will continue to meet this week in New York, and the NHLPA’s counteroffer will go a long way in telling just how far apart the two sides are and whether a lockout could be likely.

“I think that there’s certainly a possibility ‘€” a reasonable one ‘€” that we’ll be in a position to make some further response,” Fehr told the Canadian Press. “Whether we’ll be in a position to make an alternative proposal yet I don’t know.”

The current CBA is expected to expire on Sept. 15, and though the league could technically continue to play games without a new CBA, fans shouldn’t bank on such a scenario coming to fruition. The league’s last CBA negotiation will live in infamy, as it led to a lockout that resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.

Daniel Paille reiterates confidence in CBA negotiations

Monday, August 6th, 2012

MIDDLETON — Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who is the team’s player representative for the NHL Players’ Association, said Monday that while the league and NHLPA haven’t come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, he’s confident the season will start on time.

The league made its initial proposal last month, but the NHLPA has yet to make a counteroffer. The current CBA is set to expire on Sept. 15, and Paille said he won’t worry about losing games until it expires.

“After Sept. 15, we’ll see what happens,” Paille said. “Until then, I don’t think there’s any reason to panic. I think for us, it’s definitely a line of communication. I think it’s a positive for us to keep that going.”

Tuukka Rask, Daniel Paille join Shawn Thornton for third annual Parkinson’s golf tournament

Monday, August 6th, 2012

MIDDLETON — Shawn Thornton bounced around a lot of NHL and AHL cities before coming to Boston, so consider him happy to be having the third annual anything in the same spot.

Monday marked Thornton’s third annual “Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s” at the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton, a tournament featuring Bruins teammates to raise money for the disease that his grandmother battled for years before she died in 2008.

“Some things have had to come together, contract-wise and all that stuff,” Thornton said. “Staying in town definitely helped. The support from everyone around it — pretty much everyone comes back — there’s a couple of cancelations every year, but somebody’s waiting to step in. The support’s been pretty remarkable.”

Participating in this year’s tournament were teammates Daniel Paille and Tuukka Rask, the only other Bruins currently in town. Though the tournament is about more than golf, Thornton, who does plenty of golfing and boxing in the offseason, said his teammates could get the better of him.

“Paisy is naturally good at everything,” Thornton said of his linemate. “I don’t think he knows how good he is at everything. Tuukka, I haven’t played with him since he got back from Finland, but I heard he’s hitting the ball a mile.”

Rask had no problem confirming his superiority over Thornton on the golf course when asked whether he could beat the veteran tough guy.

“I could on a good day,” Rask said. “… I’ve finally straightened out my drive, so I’ve been good. Now that I’m talking about it, I’m sure I’ll suck today.”

Tuukka Rask talks contract status, Tim Thomas

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Following are highlights from Tuukka Rask’s session with the media Thursday at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Rask, who took a one-year deal this offseason and will take over as the team’s starting goalie, said he felt “fairly healthy” as the offseason began coming off a hip/abdomen injury and is feeling good now.

On signing a one-year deal [Note: He will be a restricted free agent again next offseason]

“A lot of people I guess were a little surprised by the contract and stuff, but I can’t tell the team that I want a long contract because I’m at an age where I would have had to go to arbitration and stuff like that, so we just figured it’s best for both of us. If I have a good year then maybe I’ll sign a longer deal and if I suck, then kick me out.

On if there was any hesitance to take a one-year deal in case he has a bad season or gets injured:

“You can’t really think of it that way, because you’re kind of digging yourself a hole there, but sometimes you’ve got to think what’s best for the team and what’s best for yourself. I think this is a really good scenario for all of us.”

On if he’ll suck next year:

“I mean, I’m pretty confident. I’ve never really sucked, so hopefully I don’t suck this year either. You go out there and you do your best. Practice hard and work hard and just play on your level. I know my level is not too low in general, so I’ve just got to work hard to maintain that level.”

On if he feels he has something to prove:

“Yes and no. You always think it would be nice to play 82 games and have an awesome year. In that way you want to prove yourself, how good you can be on a daily basis, but I’ve proven myself, that I can play in this league.”

On if he was surprised by Tim Thomas‘ decision to take next year off:

“Well I was and I wasn’t. I wasn’t expecting him to do that obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to be with his family and take some time off from hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but I’m more upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on. I’m sure he’s happy now where he is.”

On if he saw it coming:

“I mean, everybody knew he was a little tired because he played so much the last two years, but it didn’t seem like he was exhausted mentally.”

On if he’s viewing the situation as though Thomas won’t come back to the Bruins:

“Well, I mean, of course. That’s what everybody wants, but if he takes a step back and thinks about his situation and if he comes back, he comes back. I’ll just try to do my job as good as I can.”

On if he’ll miss Thomas as a teammate:

“He was a great guy. We had a great relationship and he was a good guy. It’s going to be a little weird to not see him sitting next to me anymore, but I have to get used to it.”

On what Thomas’ legacy in Boston should be:

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that. To me, I look at it a little differently because he’s a friend of mine, so I don’t really care what he says on the Facebook or whatever because I don’t read that stuff. He’s been good to me, and we’ve been good friends and usually don’t talk about that stuff, what he posts. All I know is he’s been a good teammate to me and a good friend.”

On being the Bruins’ starting goalie:

“All my life, pretty much, it’s been a goal. I played some games my first year here consistently, but the year after was a step back playing-time wise. [I’ve been] waiting for a few years now, so it’s going to be interesting to see how I handle it. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge.”

On being in a more traditional situation with a starter and a backup:

“I played a lot down in Providence and back in Finland even, so that’s not going to be anything new. I don’t want to put too much worry on that because you know how coach is with playing time. I’m sure I’m going to get as much a chance as possible, but if I can’t get the job done, there’s going to be more guys coming in.”

Tuukka Rask supportive of, but not surprised by Tim Thomas

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Speaking publicly for the first time this summer, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute that he wasn’t overly surprised when he heard this summer that fellow goalie Tim Thomas was taking a year off from hockey.

“Well I was and I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting him to do that obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to be with his family and take some time off from hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but I’m more upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on. I’m sure he’s happy now where he is.”

Added Rask: “I mean, everybody knew he was a little tired because he played so much the last two years, but it didn’t seem like he was exhausted mentally.”

Thomas, who was a two-time Vezina winner and a the Conn Smythe winner in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley-Cup winning season, became somewhat of a controversial figure for being more outspoken politically over the last calendar year. Most recently, Thomas sided with Chick fil-A in its stand against gay marriage. Asked what he though Thomas’ legacy in Boston should be given the on-ice success and off-ice controversy, Rask said he couldn’t answer because he was biased towards his former teammate.

“To me, I look at it a little differently because he’s a friend of mine, so I don’t really care what he says on the Facebook or whatever because I don’t read that stuff,” Rask said. “He’s been good to me, and we’ve been good friends and usually don’t talk about that stuff, what he posts. All I know is he’s been a good teammate to me and a good friend.”