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Knuble says NHL waiting to make its best offer


Knuble says NHL waiting to make its best offer

On Tuesday night NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear where the negotiations between the league and its players stood when he told Chris Botta of the Sports Business Journal, “We’re done making proposals. We’ll see what they want to do.”

Former Capitals veteran Mike Knuble isn’t buying it. And he’s pretty sure NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and his special counsel and brother Steve Fehr aren’t going to be bullied into crafting a new proposal.

“It’s not a ping-pong game,” Knuble told “We’re not going to make an offer because someone said it’s our turn.

“I’m sure Don and Steve will have their internal meetings and figure out which direction they want to go, but they’re not bowing to any sort of pressure from Bill or Gary [Bettman]. They’re not going to make a move that will hurt us just for the sake of making one.”

Knuble believes the NHL has a date circled on its negotiating calendar – a date in which a shortened regular season can be salvaged – and when it arrives another offer will be presented.

“I think sometime in December,” he said. “I just think that when the NHL wants to be serious about talking we’ll get a deal done. But I don’t think they’re at that point yet.

“I believe they still feel their time line isn’t there yet. When it will be I think we’ll all know it and I think things will happen pretty quickly when they get to their time line.”

Knuble, 40, said he believes today’s NHL players are just as adamant about getting a fair deal as they were in 2004-05 when an entire season was lost. In addition to forfeiting a year of income in that lockout players accepted a 24 percent rollback on their 2005-06 salaries.

“It’s like tearing off a Band-Aid,” Knuble said. “It was a slap in the face taking 24 percent right off the top of everybody’s salary. I think a lot of players who were involved in '04 vowed that would never happen again. We would never go through that again.”

Today, the players’ rallying cry is protecting the contracts they thought were signed in good faith. Over the summer dozens of high-profile players signed lucrative deals, none more lucrative than Sidney Crosby’s 12-year, $104.4 million extension with the Penguins and the 13-year, $98 million free-agent contracts signed by Minnesota’s Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

“Were those contracts signed in good faith or were they signed with the idea they were getting a discount?” Knuble said. “I don’t know. I think that’s why players are frustrated.

“All our All-Stars are signed to multi-year deals and those high-profile guys aren’t going to take that lightly, to be stripped like that again. It happened once, but it’s not going to happen again and guys are pretty adamant about that. Guys know it’s going to go to 50-50, but how do you want to get there?”

In an attempt to get to a 50-50 split in revenues, the NHL has proposed a “make whole” provision in which $211 million in player salaries would be paid in deferred payments over two years.

The players want their current contracts paid in full and not in deferred payments.

Knuble said he believes the NHL is weeks away from its best offer and is following a path similar to the one taken by the NBA last season, when the league and union settled on Thanksgiving and began a 66-game season on Christmas day.

“Everybody remembers LeBron James and the Miami Heat won,” Knuble said. “That’s all they remember about last year and I think the NHL would love to see that.”

Knuble said he thinks a shortened season would need to consist of at least 55 games to legitimize the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He also believes some small-market teams are perfectly content losing the first two months of the regular season, which are traditionally the slowest and least attended of the NHL season.

He also believes there will be hockey this winter.

“I do, just because I’m optimistic,” he said. “When we lost the [2004-05] season we all never thought that would happen. We didn’t think that was in the realm of possibility, but they showed it is.

“Every day that goes by I guess the window closes a little bit, but I don’t think we’re at crunch time yet. I think that’s another month away.”

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page