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NHL players ready to make the next move

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NHL players ready to make the next move

Tighten those chin straps, hockey fans. The NHL Players Association isabout to toss the next grenade in its labor war with the leagues owners.Today in Toronto,union chief Donald Fehr is set to present to owners an alternative view tothe first proposal Gary Bettman presented back on July 13. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said he plans on being in Toronto to hear the proposal's finer points.How the owners respond to the players counterproposal will go a long way indetermining if the NHL can avoid its second work stoppage in nine years. Thecurrent Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Sept. 15.Im interested, very interested, Bettman said Monday of the players proposal.Well have to wait and see. Im not going to try and speculate as to what theyregoing to present Tuesday. I have no idea.Its a pretty safe bet the players will be looking to broaden the rules ofthe salary cap that has governed the NHL since it hammered out a new agreementfollowing the canceled 2004-05 season.Fehr will be looking for expanded revenue sharing after the owners initialproposal asked for a slash in the players share of revenue from 57 percent to46 percent. The players believe that number would fall to 43 percent based onthe NHLs revenue calculations.Owners also proposed a maximum of five years on player contracts and extendingrookie contracts from three to five years. The players union says the endresult will be a 25 percent reduction in player salaries.Fehrs proposal is expected to drastically alter the current financial landscapeof the NHL.Its how the players see the world, Fehr said.Unfortunately, it may also signal the beginning of what could be a world without NHL hockey next fall.

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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.