Blackhawks

Lengthy meetings still lacking progress

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Lengthy meetings still lacking progress

So much for lengthy talks getting the NHL and NHLPA anywhere in their quest for a new collective bargaining agreement. After a weeks worth of talking in New York City, it appears the sides are no closer to getting a deal done than they were when they began on Tuesday.

The league and players association had three more talks on Friday, but little if anything was accomplished regarding a new CBA. And based on a leaked memo (obtained from Pro Hockey Talk) from NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr to the players, theres still a big gap between the two parties. In the memo, Fehr said the league still wants more than the future salaries the NHLPA has offered.

Then, later on Friday, things took an interesting turn. NHL sources, citing that memo, told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Fehr didnt fully inform players of the leagues latest offer.

The Star-Tribune reported the NHL would guarantee existing contracts at 1.883 billion (or their 57 percent revenue share from last season). Players would agree to an immediate 50-50 split; but a reduced portion of their salaries (12.3 percent) would be deferred one or two years. It would be repaid with interest from one year to the next and by the third year, every contract would be made whole.

Fehr disputed this when he spoke to reporters late Friday night, saying that players would not be receiving the full value of their contracts.

Fehr said hes informed the players of every proposal the league has made, and added that the players association doesnt think the gap on core economics is as wide as the league does. That last statement differs from what Fehr said in the memo to players on Thursday, when he stated theres still a lot of work to be done and bridges to be crossed before an agreement can be made.

Several Blackhawks past and present, including Jonathan Toews, Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers and Troy Brouwer have often said Fehr has kept players in the loop on talks progress and proposals.

Montador, the Blackhawks player representative, called the accusations toward Fehr laughable.

Its clearly a tactic to drive a wedge between Don and the players. Its nothing but a reiteration of how strong we are, Montador said. Its laughable, really, that the league would resort to tactics like this. They locked us out when they didnt have to, and we didnt want it, weve conceded massive amounts of dollars in their favor (this time and 7 years ago) and we say enough is enough, and now this. They're trying anything now.

Brouwer talked earlier this week of the NHLPAs weekly conference calls.

We always have them to inform players to make sure everyones up to speed, he said. Anyone whos an NHLPA member can jump on so everyone knows whats going on.

So here we sit once again: only this time both sides are talking and the situation still isnt closer to being solved. Gary Bettman talked to reporters following Fridays meeting.

I don't want to raise or lower expectations, he said. I won't be happy until we get to the end result and that means we are playing again.

Bettman said he would also do whatever it takes to continue talks with the players association through the weekend.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
 
1. That's how you start a game.

The Blackhawks haven't had the best of starts over the last couple weeks or so — aside from their recent four-goal first period against New Jersey. But they flew out of the gates in Pittsburgh.

Chicago recorded 27 shot attempts (11 on goal) in the opening frame compared to Pittsburgh's 13 attempts (nine on goal), and led in the even-strength scoring chances department 11-2.

Two of those chances were breakaways from Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews, but both were denied by Matt Murray. The Blackhawks cashed in on one of two power play opportunities, however, and took a 1-0 lead into the second.

2. Power play strikes again.

Speaking of power plays, the Blackhawks came up empty on their first one of the game, but they were handed another one 44 seconds later at the midway mark of the first and capitalized when Gustav Forsling slipped one five-hole past Murray. 

It's the third consecutive game the Blackhawks have scored on the man advantage, something they hadn't done since Oct. 7-12 when they scored in four straight. It's also the second consecutive game the power play unit netted the game winner.

The Blackhawks are 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) on the power play in their last three games after going 5-for-53 (9.4 percent) in their previous 12. 

3. Should Blackhawks have pushed back immediately following Corey Crawford injury?

A scary moment occurred in the second period when Evgeni Malkin swiped Crawford in the mask while racing for a loose puck, forcing the Blackhawks netminder to exit before returning a few minutes later.

Malkin was given a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference, but should the Blackhawks have stood up for Crawford at the expense of getting tagged with a penalty themselves?

No question a power play opportunity with a chance to make it a two-goal game at that stage of the game — and against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who hadn't lost in regulation at home this season going into the matchup —  is important, but the Blackhawks' lack of retaliation was a bit surpising. 

It wasn't a dirty play by Malkin by any means, but there's a principle involved when your goaltender gets hit like that. Those are the kinds of penalties you shouldn't mind taking, and at the very worst it would've been 4-on-4 hockey with one of Pittsburgh's best forwards in the box.

4. Artem Anisimov stays hot.

The goals keep coming for No. 15.

After the Penguins tied it up at 1-1 in the third period with a shorthanded goal, Anisimov scored 21 seconds later on the power play to put the Blackhawks back in front 2-1.

Anisimov now has nine goals in his last 10 games after scoring just one goal in his first 10 to start the season. He also has four game-winning goals on the season, all of which have come this month. Brandon Saad leads the NHL with five.

5. Alex DeBrincat extends point streak.

Lost in the shuffle was the Blackhawks' top rookie getting on the scoresheet once again.

With an assist on Forsling's power play goal in the first period, DeBrincat extended his point streak to four games. He has four goals and two assists in that span, and is averaging a point per game over his last nine (six goals and three assists).

DeBrincat also moved into a three-way tie with Richard Panik and Toews for second on the team with 13 points.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.