Sharks

NHL rejects players' latest offer, negotiations break off

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NHL rejects players' latest offer, negotiations break off

If you’re a fan of NHL hockey, Thursday’s regressive developments in the collective bargaining negotiations could mean you’re out of luck if you were hoping for a season.

If you’re a fan of the Three Ring Circus, just keep following along with these increasingly bizarre discussions.

In a span of minutes, and after an early evening meeting with the league, the NHLPA’s Donald Fehr took to the podium at the Westin Times Square to say he believed the players’ counter-offer to the league had moved the two sides “close” to an agreement. Soon after, he received a voicemail from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, saying that the NHL had rejected the union’s latest proposal and that the league would be taking certain aspects of its latest offer off of the table.

That includes $300 million in “make-whole” money that was to be used to honor current signed contracts, a key issue for the players.

Fehr re-took the podium and relayed that rejection to the attending media, adding, “It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future.”

Shortly after Fehr spoke, an agitated Gary Bettman spoke for more than 40 minutes. “I’m disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are tonight,” Bettman said.

The commissioner also seemed to suggest that time is getting short to save any semblance of having a season with integrity. In 1994-95, a 48-game season began on Jan. 20.

Among some other highlights (lowlights?) from the commissioner:

- The NHL’s increased offer of the make-whole money, from $211 to $300 million, brought a “shockingly silent” response from the union, and subsequently the owners were “beside themselves.” Some said, according to Bettman, “This process is over. Clearly the union doesn’t want to make a deal.”

- He was upset that Fehr moments earlier categorized the two sides as being close to a deal. He accused the union boss of  “spinning us all into an emotional frenzy.” He labeled it as “unfair to our fans, and unfair to this process.”

- The optimism for a season after Tuesday’s meeting between players and four new owners to the process “almost inexplicably disappeared Wednesday afternoon” after it seemed the two sides had made some progress.

After Bettman spoke, the league released statements from those four NHL owners that joined the talks earlier in the week. Pittsburgh’s Ron Burkle, Tampa Bay’s Jeff Vinik, Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum and Winnipeg’s Mark Chipman met with players on Tuesday and Wednesday without Bettman or Fehr in the room (Daly and the NHLPA’s Steve Fehr were in attendance).

Burkle reportedly emerged from the talks as a voice of reason, and, along with Sidney Crosby, was being praised as a potential savior to the season.

But, Burkle's reaction to the breakdown on Thursday was discouraging.

In a statement, the Pens' owner said: “We made substantial movement on our end quickly, but unfortunately that was not met with the same level of movement from the other side. The players asked us to be patient and keep working with them. It’s not what they do and they wanted us to know they were committed. We understood and appreciated their situation. We came back with an aggressive commitment to pensions which we felt was well received. We needed a response on key items that were important to us, but we were optimistic that we were down to very few issues. I believe a deal was within reach.

“We were therefore surprised when the Fehrs made a unilateral and “non-negotiable” decision – which is their right, to end the player/owner process that has moved us farther in two days than we moved at any time in the past months.

“I want to thank the players involved for their hard work as we tried to reach a deal.

“I hope that going backwards does not prevent a deal.”

No further meetings are scheduled.

Thornton leaves game vs Jets in final minute with apparent knee injury

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AP

Thornton leaves game vs Jets in final minute with apparent knee injury

The San Jose Sharks not only lost in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, but also lost their second-leading scorer to injury. 

Joe Thornton left the final minute of the game with an apparent injury to his right knee. With Jets forward Andrew Copp backchecking, Mikkel Boedker collided into Thornton's knee in front of the Sharks bench. 

Thornton took a stride on each leg as he skated gingerly to the bench, and did not return to the game. 

The 38-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee this summer. He missed the final three games of the regular season last year, but returned to play in San Jose's final four postseason games in a first round, six-game loss to the Edmonton Oilers. 

Thornton is second on the Sharks with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists), and has scored nine points in his last seven games. He is second among forwards in average ice time, and is playing 18:20 per night in his 20th NHL season. 

Sharks can't chase down Jets in topsy-turvy OT loss

Sharks can't chase down Jets in topsy-turvy OT loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Bryan Little scored his second goal of the game 18 seconds into overtime, lifting the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.

Joel Armia also scored twice and Mathieu Perreault had one goal to help the Jets win their third straight and fifth in the last seven. Connor Hellebuyck finished with 29 saves.

Joe PavelskiLogan CoutureChris Tierney and Timo Meier scored for San Jose, which lost for the second time in seven games. Aaron Dell had 18 saves.

Armia's second goal put the Jets ahead 4-3 with 8:22 remaining to play but Meier responded less than four minutes later for the Sharks. Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot was blocked by Dustin Byfuglien, and Meier won the battle to the puck and slipped it past Hellebuyck.

The Jets, who scored a goal apiece in each of its last four games, found the net three times in the first 12 minutes.

Perreault set the tone, scoring 18 seconds into the game with an assist from Nikolaj Ehlers.

Andrew Copp set up Armia's first goal with a terrific pass from the blue line less than five minutes into the game.

Little scored on a power play, redirecting Tyler Myers shot past Dell to make it 3-0 with just over just over eight minutes left in the opening period.

A heads up play from Pavelski put the Sharks on the scoreboard in the final minute of the first. Brenden Dillon's shot bounced hard off Hellebuyck's pads and Pavelski got to the rebound and fired in from 20 feet away.

The Sharks tied the score with two goals within a four-minute stretch of the second period.

Couture was trying to pass the puck midway through the period and flared on it. The puck floated between a pair of Jets' defenders as Couture spun around 360 degrees and found it sitting on open ice. He struck quickly, before the puck was located by anyone else.

Tierney's power-play goal came after a sharp left-to-right pass across the ice by Joe Thornton.

NOTES: The Jets improved to 23-1-4 when scoring first and 17-1-1 when leading after the first period. ... Tierney recorded his career-high 12th goal of the season. ... Perreault has three goals in his last four games. ... Pavelski has nine points in his last eight games. ... Thornton has nine points in his last seven games.

UP NEXT

Jets: At the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

Sharks: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday.