SAN JOSE There are myriad reasons why the NHL and players association havent been able to reach a collective bargaining agreement yet, as the lockout surpassed the two-month mark on Friday.
The latest point of contention that is seemingly keeping the two sides at odds is player contract rights. Since their first proposal back in July, the owners have insisted on a five-year maximum length for all future deals, as well as no more than a five-percent variance on money from year-to-year. Essentially, the leagues owners want to prevent the kind of front loaded, salary cap circumventing deals that have become commonplace for the most sought after free agents (see Parise, Zach; Suter, Ryan).
Despite making progress on economic issues like revenue sharing and paying out the current deals in full, the owners have not moved off of their contract demands since their opening offer. In fact, its been reported that Gary Bettman said, were past the point of give-and-take in the previous bargaining session nearly a week ago. The two sides are set to resume negotiations on Monday, according to multiple reports.
Sharks center Patrick Marleau said on Friday that those contract demands from the league, should they be implemented, would adversely affect the way league general managers do business.
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I think it would be tough for any team to work under those conditions, Marleau said. The salary cap already kind of hindered GMs and what they could do, so you would just be handcuffing them that much more.
That could be true for some teams, but others - likely the majority - would welcome the new rules. And the Sharks are probably at the top of that list.
Its true that some clubs, specifically the big spenders, would have to re-evaluate the way they do business. Only a select few are willing to sign players to decade-long, nine-figure contracts, and it wasnt difficult to figure out which teams would be in play for the best free agent talent each summer. Evening out the playing field with new contracting rules would give many more clubs the opportunity to at least explore adding top-level talent in the open market.
In fact, Marleau plays for a club that may be the absolute best example of why new contracting restrictions might be welcomed.
The Sharks have avoided the kind of deals that the league is trying to outlaw while remaining competitive for many years, making the playoffs for eight straight seasons, including three trips to the Western Conference Finals. There is no Rick DiPietroWade ReddenIlya Bryzgalov contract here, casting a large shadow over the organization's future.
The Sharks have just seven players signed after the 2013-14 season, and four of those will be in the last year of their current deal in 2014-15 (Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Adam Burish are the only players signed after that). A logical case can be made that San Jose is one of the teams pushing for more restrictive contracting rules in order to be more competitive in the free agent market, although an NHL gag order prohibits the team from discussing anything related to the lockout.
Already known as one of the more desirable destinations in the league, the Sharks could become much more active players in free agency than they have been in recent years.
Marleau, incidentally, has two years remaining on his contract with the Sharks that would have paid him 6.9 million this season, making him the second highest paid player on the team. He stated a couple weeks ago that he was exploring options in Europe, but gave the impression on Friday that hes not close to committing to anything overseas at the moment.
Dan Boyle told CSNCalifornia.com on Friday that he was concerned about the damage the lockout might have on the sport that has treated him so well over the years.
Marleau, too, is worried that there may be fan backlash whenever the lockout ends. In fact, it may have happened already.
Yeah, definitely. I think theres already been damage and youre going to lose fans, he said. From where we were at, weve taken steps backwards. I think the game was going this way, up and up and up, and where it goes from heretheres going to be a lot of things that need fixing once we do get back to playing.
Joe Pavelski is currently on KHL Minsks injury report, but it doesnt appear to be anything too severe.
In a text message to CSNCalifornia.com, Pavelskis agent said his client banged up his knee a bit, but its nothing serious.
In seven games with Minsk, Pavelski has just one assist, six penalty minutes and is a minus-4.
The San Francisco Bulls are down to a single NHL player, and he still has no plans to suit up for the first-year ECHL club.
Defenseman Theo Peckham requested his release from the Bulls this week, as originally reported by CHEDs Dan Tencer, after going scoreless in four games with 11 penalty minutes. Peckham is in the last year of his deal with the Edmonton Oilers and will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Sharks forward Ryane Clowe continues to practice with the Bulls, but its unlikely hell play in a game at this point.