Bruins

Haggerty: A few steps to getting the NHL season on track

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Haggerty: A few steps to getting the NHL season on track

It appears there might be some progress after all.

The NHL and NHLPA met informally on Monday night during an NHL Alumni Dinner to discuss Hockey Related Revenue and escrow payments from last years books, and now theyve scheduled talks for the end of this week in New York City.

That will break the nearly two week silence between the two sides as the first 61 NHL preseason games were cancelled, and it would appear likely the rest of the exhibition season will be axed by the time talks resume on Friday.

The discussion at weeks end will be about non-core economic matters, and perhaps tie together some of the other loose ends before both sides dive headlong into divvying up the Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) pie.

Its good to know that Enjoy the Silence wont be the preferred soundtrack behind CBA negotiations over the new two weeks leading up to the NHL season opener on Oct. 11. Its expected both sides are going to give it a solid push to avoid wiping out the first few months of the regular season. Here are a few things to watch for as the two sides work things out:

The players arent going to sign off on any potential salary rollbacks, and wont settle for less than the 1.87 billion in player salaries they earned during the 2011-12 season. But the players should have some give on potential escrow to start the new collective bargaining agreement, and be willing to tie a little of their money up in guaranteed growthprofits from the league. If the NHL were to agree to slight cost-of-living raises of 2-3 percent each year while growth continues at 6-7 percent then the players percentage of HRR would eventually drop to 50 percent over the course of a lengthy new CBA starting with a 53 percent slice of the pie this season. If the league blows up into a revenue monster over the next 5-10 years then the NHL owners could make plenty of dough in this kind of arrangement.

The player might have to compromise to four-year entry level contracts for rookies that could scale back some of the pricey second deals that have been handed out to Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Seguin among others. The mandatory five-year entry level proposed by the NHL in their first offer was designed to control the cost of the games best young players for teams that are hard-pressed to hold onto them when they become 6 million assets beginning in Year Four. This is also an issue the NHLPA might gain some measure of support around from players that are likely more worried about present paychecks than the rights of future rookies.

A source indicated to CSNNE.com that the NHLPA is looking to make substantial alterations to the disciplinary system set up by the NHL. Aside from NHLPA representation in a more clearly defined appeal process, the players association is angling toward allowing the NHL to fine players much more than 2,500 for on-ice infractions. Right now its the maximum a player can be fined, but in many instances a heftier fine could arguably take the place of a one-game suspension for borderline hits. If a player like Chara were suspended for a borderline offense, for instance, he would miss 73,000 in game checks for each game he was suspended. A fine for 25,000, for example, would send the proper message to a player without causing them to miss a game and a hefty game check along with it. Those kinds of small details along with NHL player participation in the Winter Olympics and heightened player safety rules are minor details both sides want ironed out in a new agreement.

Cap contract length at 6-8 years and kill all of the lifetime deals that are putting teams into salary cap jail. There was no need to sign New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, 67.5 million contract cleared by Charles Wang and Mike Milbury, and outlawing lifetime contracts for NHL players would save GMs and owners from themselves something theyve proven that they need. This is a no-brainer that both the NHL and the NHLPA should find common ground on this very quickly.

A greater degree of revenue sharing is something that the NHLPA has been pushing for, and is something that is badly needed to prop up markets like Phoenix, Florida and the New York Islanders that continually lose money year after year. Markets like Toronto, Montreal and New York along with Boston and Chicago are doing as well as theyve ever done, and should be willing to share the leagues burden along with the players in a true partnership.

The long term goal should be a 5050 split of revenue between the players and the NHL owners, and missing hockey games so one side can claim victory by getting a bigger piece of the pie will end hurting the league in the end. The NHL would be smart to walk through the door thats been opened by the folly of using NFL replacement refs. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is now flying under the radar ever so slightly as his NFL namesake is getting hammered from all sides, and he can look like the fair-haired hero if a deal gets done to save the bulk of the regular season.

Everybody agrees that the business of the NHL is going far too well to shutter its doors for the entire season, and it would be a shame to wipe out 247 and the Winter Classic given their enormous success. Its time for Bettman, Bill Daly, Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr to walk into a room and refuse to leave until a deal has been signed, sealed and delivered to save the season.

Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

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Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

The entire concept of Tuukka Rask getting pushed by one of his backups is based on the backup consistently performing at a high standard, and that wasn’t the case for Anton Khudobin over the weekend.

Just as it isn’t solely the fault of Rask when the Bruins lose, it wasn’t solely the fault of Khudobin that Boston squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Saturday night. But Khudobin couldn’t step up and carry the B's when they clearly started losing their edge in the second half of the game, and that inconsistency will certainly make the Bruins pine for a sooner-rather-than-later return of a concussed Rask.

“Erratic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy when asked to describe Khudobin postgame. “He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. He certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him. But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.”

It was certainly too much to expect Khudobin to be perfect, but they just needed him to be good enough to pull them through while they were getting waylaid in the second half of the game. That proved to be a major challenge, given the players the Bruins are missing and the extremely rough night suffered by Torey Krug (minus-3 on Saturday night, and minus-8 for the season). Khudobin finished with 37 stops as a defense corps without Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller wilted in the third period and the overtime, but he couldn’t make the clean saves for whistles when the team really needed them. Case in point was a Rasmus Ristolainen tester in overtime while the Bruins were in the midst of being outshot by a 6-0 margin in the extra session. Khudobin got a glove on it but couldn’t cleanly catch it for a badly needed stoppage in play at a time when Krug, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had been caught on the ice for over two minutes.

"The start was great, and the game was great until we scored the fourth goal, and I think after that, we thought it was an easy game,” said Khudobin. “[The high volume of shots] wasn’t that much difficult, I like shots, like probably every other goalie, but they were crashing the net. They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net, which were . . .that’s the dangerous part, not just the shots.”

Khudobin, 31, has taken five of a possible six points in the games he's played this season and is off to a solid start with a 2-0-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He looks like he’s going to be a perfectly fine backup, enabling the Bruins to hold Rask to the 55-60 games they’ve forecasted for his peak performance this season.

But Saturday night was a major blow to any hopes that Rask would be pushed competitively by his backup, and that a Khudobin hot streak could spark a slow-starting, and now injured, Rask when he does return.

Instead the Bruins are left to hope they can survive while missing Rask along with a number of other key players, and that the goalie returns sooner than later to a team that can’t survive too many morale-crushing defeats like the choke job against the lowly Sabres.

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.