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NHL, players head back to bargaining table

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NHL, players head back to bargaining table

The negotiating committees for the NHL and the players’ union are scheduled to meet today in Toronto and this time they are expected to discuss the core economic issues that have delayed the start of the 2012-13 season.

Last week the two sides negotiated secondary issues such as grievance procedures, drug testing and players’ rights to second opinions from the medical community.

“I don’t want to comment on things like that,” Capitals forward Matt Hendricks said. “Just get the thing done and get us back to playing.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly have met with NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr and his brother, special counsel Steve Fehr, several times since the two exchanged proposals on Sept. 12, three days before the expiration of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Now, the league is seeking a new proposal from the players that can bridge the gap on revenue sharing. The players have offered their share be reduced from 57 percent to as low as 52 percent, based on a 7.1 percent growth in revenue.

The NHL’s proposal begins with the players getting a 47 percent share and gradually rising to 49 percent. It is apparent to everyone on both sides that a 50-50 split in league revenue is the likely to be the end result. It’s how to get there that remains the sticking point.

The owners want immediate salary reductions; the players want the owners to honor all current contracts. The most reasonable compromise would be for players to take a small reduction – say 1 or 2 percent – this season, with gradual rollbacks that achieve the 50-50 split at the end of the five- or six-year deal.   

So, why has more than a month gone by without a single proposal from either side?

“Just the concern that the union will do what its done with our last two offers -- pocket them and ask for more,” Daly told CSNPhilly.com in an email, “which could only lengthen the process, not shorten it.”

“They have an idea where our head is at,” said Steve Fehr, “and maybe we have a good idea where their head is at. Whether an offer is on the table or off the table won’t make as much difference.”

Meanwhile, the NHL is inching closer toward canceling games through the first week of November, pushing back any possibility of the season resuming before mid-November. Players felt the financial sting of the lockout on Monday when they did not receive their first of 13 checks issued every other Monday.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

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Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY