NHLPA concludes meetings, awaits negotiations


NHLPA concludes meetings, awaits negotiations

The sea of hockey players faces standing behind NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr was a blend of veterans and youth, plenty of youth.

Most of the players taking part in the NHLPA meetings this week in Chicago werent part of the NHL when it was locked out for the 2004-05 season. The Jonathan Toews, the Troy Brouwers, the John Tavares.

But that doesnt mean they cant learn from history.

The players understand what happened last time. A bunch lived through it, and those who didnt have been told by the guys who did, Fehr said as the NHLPA meetings wrapped up on Wednesday. They understand what took place.

Players, obviously, dont want it to happen again. And while theres a long way to go in the new collective bargaining agreement talks, its in everyones best interest to avoid the 2004-05 mess.

The NHLPA named its negotiating committee, a 31-player group representing a cross-section of the league, on Wednesday. The group will be closely involved in the collective bargaining process between the players association and the league. Various members will attend bargaining sessions and regular correspondence will be conducted throughout the process, as a means of keeping the entire committee updated. The Blackhawks Steve Montador and Brendan Morrison are part of the committee.

And top priority is getting resolution as quickly as possible to keep this now successful NHL machine running.

When we approach negotiations, the object is to get a deal done which can continue that momentum, and continue it uninterrupted, Fehr said Wednesday. Other individuals have said they hope and expect well have quick and painless negotiation. From our standpoint, nothing would make us happier.

The NHL has continued to grow in its post-lockout years. Everything is up: Interest, TV ratings, revenue. Stopping all of that would be a grave mistake because who knows how long it would take to build all of that back up again?

Remember that the league had two very prized reasons to watch when they returned in 2005-06. Crosby and Ovechkin. If this season goes bye-bye, there probably isnt anyone with the dynamics those two have to draw fans in again. Maybe the NFL can go into a work stoppage or two (or more) and not lose steam. The NHL cant.

If the players and owners cant come to an agreement by the time the current CBA expires on Sept. 15, Fehr said they could still start training camp and the season as long as the parties are willing to keep negotiating. In that scenario, the league would just continue to work under the current CBA. But, as Fehr said, we hope we dont have to worry about that.

Many are hoping that never comes to fruition. Its just not worth the price they could pay if hockey goes away again.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'


Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."