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Fehr says owners blocking negotiations

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Fehr says owners blocking negotiations

It has been two weeks now since the NHL presented to its players a 50-50 proposal to save an 82-game season.

With that deal no longer on the table, word is spreading that the players’ union is interested in working future negotiations off that Oct. 16 proposal, as long as the owners are willing to be flexible with many of its key points.

In a brief letter to the league’s 700-plus players, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr addressed the current stalemate, stating:

“At every opportunity we have continued to state that we are ready to meet and willing to discuss all open issues, including the owners’ last offer.

“Nonetheless, to date, their group has declined to commit to a meeting unless it can dictate what the agenda is. We will update you further as soon as there is anything more to report.

Regards, Don.”

A TSN.ca report indicated that NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly would speak over the phone Tuesday but that no formal talks have been scheduled as the lockout reached Day 45.

With no progress anticipated between the two sides, the league could cancel the 2013 Winter Classic as early as Thursday.

There are a few key issues from the NHL’s Oct. 16 proposal that could be negotiated.

Revenue Sharing. The NHL has proposed an immediate 50-50 split but could settle for a graduated slide that perhaps starts at 53 percent and gets to 50-50 by Year 3 of the agreement.

Salary Cap. The NHL proposed a 2012-13 cap of $59.9 million and a floor of $43.9 million. If both can be raised by $5 million, the players may take the compromise.

Contract Restrictions. The NHL proposed two-year rookie contracts [down from three]; five years to salary arbitration [up from four]; eight years to unrestricted free agency [down from nine] and a five-year maximum length of all contracts [currently no limits].

If movement can be made on those key issues a season can be saved. If not, the Winter Classic won’t be the last game to go.

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.