NHL, NHLPA meet separately with mediators Wednesday


NHL, NHLPA meet separately with mediators Wednesday

The NHL and NHLPA met in what began as an undisclosed location on Wednesday, and they probably hoped it would stay that way. That didnt happen. Onlookers (fans, media, etc.) watched Wednesdays meeting and hoped some progress would be made.

Doesnt seem like that happened, either.

The two sides met or as reported, met separately with federal mediators -- in New Jersey on Wednesday. But reports out of the talks state that not much progress was made toward a new collective bargaining agreement and an end to a lockout that has now reached Day 88.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters that, there is no conclusion to this round of the process right now.

Mediators reportedly told players that the leagues last offer was available if the union would accept it. But Brendan Morrison, who last played for the Chicago Blackhawks, told reporters the players still arent accepting that deal.

I thought the gap would be closed much quicker, but it hasnt come to fruition yet. So we have to keep working, Morrison said. Its good in a sense were here, and bad in a sense there is no progress.

It was the second time the two sides used mediators in negotiations. Two weeks ago mediators met with the league and PA for two days before deciding the sides were too far apart. Today, they talked with each side separately. Basically, it proved futile both times.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told reporters, there were discussions of the various issues involved and now far apart we are and where we go from here. I cant tell you that any progress was made.

There are no new talks planned at the moment.

Blackhawks defenseman (and player representative) Steve Montador and forward Jamal Mayers were also at Wednesdays meeting.

Its extremely frustrating where we are, said Mayers, who talked of how close on Monday. The league maintains thats not the case. The leagues package deal, or take-it-or-leave-it offer, makes completing a deal difficult, considering all our movement in last Thursdays proposal.

Games are currently canceled through Dec. 30. Still, some optimism remains that the two sides will work things out and salvage a partial season. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who has played overseas with EHC Biel (Switzerland), is currently back in Chicago. Hes scheduled to go back to Switzerland on Sunday if the lockout remains unresolved; but he hopes things are, and that he stays to prepare for training camp instead.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?


Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”