The No Hockey League again
Here we go again.
For the second time in seven years and for the third time on commissioner Gary Bettman's watch, the NHL has locked out its players.
The lockout began at 11 p.m. CDT on Saturday when the old collective bargaining agreement expired. This latest lockout threatens the start of training camps, most of which are scheduled to begin Friday.
The first games on the regular-season schedule aren't until Oct. 11. The first preseason games are expected to be cancelled this week.
The two sides spoke Saturday, but only informally.
"We talked with the union this morning and in light of the fact that they have nothing new to offer, or any substantive response to our last proposal, there would be nothing gained by convening a bargaining session at this time," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press.
The sides last sat down together on Wednesday, with each tabling a proposal, and Bettman indicated he expects the next move to come from the union.
"We made the last offer and we haven't gotten a formal response to our proposal," Bettman said. "I hope we get one and one that recognizes that we made yet another meaningful move and we're trying to engage in a negotiation."
The owners say they are paying too much to the players in salaries and are seeking a 17.5 percent reduction in all player salaries.
This after the players took a 24 percent pay cut in the last lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season in addition to agreeing to a salary cap the owners said would assure cost certainty.
"The perception we have sometimes is that all they're interested in is talking about salary reductions," said Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL players association.
Nobody put a gun to the head of Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold this summer when he gave free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter 13-year contracts worth $98 million.
Shane Weber received a 14-year offer sheet worth $110 million from Flyers owner Ed Snider that the Nashville Predators ultimately matched.
In their first offer to the players last month, the owners asked for a maximum of five years as far as length of contract. But since then Taylor Hall got a seven-year deal in Edmonton, the Flyers re-signed Scott Hartnell for six years and Jordan Eberle got a six-year extension from the Oilers.
The Blackhawks made a handful of roster moves Saturday ahead of the lockout.
They assigned forwards Kyle Beach, Brandon Bollig, Terry Broadhurst, Rob Flick, Byron Froese, David Gilbert, Jimmy Hayes, Marcus Kruger, Peter LeBlanc, Jeremy Morin, Philippe Paradis, Brandon Pirri, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Ben Smith, defensemen Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck, Shawn Lalonde, Joe Lavin, Nick Leddy, Dylan Olsen and Ryan Stanton, and goaltenders Mac Carruth, Carter Hutton, Alec Richards and Kent Simpson to the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs.
Additionally, the Hawks assigned forward Joakim Nordstrom to the Swedish Elite League's AIK, forward Phillip Danault to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Victoriaville Tigres and forward Mark McNeill to the Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders.
Initially, owners sought to drop the percentage of hockey related revenues (believed to be as much as $3.3 billion) given to players to 43 percent from the current 57 percent. They have since amended that to a six-year proposal that starts at 49 percent and drops to 47 percent.
The NHLPA is offering a package that starts at 54.3 percent and ends at 52.7 percent.
Fehr said the players want to play.
"We're staying strong for what we believe in," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews told reporters in New York. "It's for the guys who went through the lockout the last time and who sacrificed a whole year and maybe didn't quite get what they wanted. They lost a lot in that situation.
"There are sacrifices you have to make for those guys (in 2004-05) and for yourself and for the future players," Toews said. "It sets a precedent for what's right and how the players should be treated.
"Whether you're a player who just came into the league the last couple of years or one who went through the last lockout, we're all aware of what we're going to have to sacrifice this time. The fact we're willing to do it for each other means a lot."
Added Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby: "I know in my case not playing for as long as I did the last year and a half, I obviously want to play," Crosby said. "But I think you also have to realize that there's principles here and you have to understand what's right.
"And I think we believe that what we propose is in that right direction. If you look at both (proposals), yeah they're definitely different. But if you have a non-bias opinion, you look at the facts, I think our mindset and the direction we're going is one that seems like it's a little bit more fair for both sides."
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