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Alzner admits players won't win labor war


Alzner admits players won't win labor war

Back in 2004, NHL players swore theyd never agree to play in a league with a salary cap. A years worth of wages later, they reluctantly agreed to a salary cap.

Today, NHL players will tell you they will never agree to play in a league that cuts their existing salaries. Care to take a guess on how that will end up?

We know were going to have to take a hit, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner told Its just how big of a hit we need to take.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and his deputy, Steve Fehr, Friday in Toronto and told reporters they would continue informal discussions through the weekend.

Bettman's most recent proposal came on Sept. 12 when he proposed the players share of revenue, currently at 57 percent, start at 49 percent and gradually decrease to 47 percent by the end of the six-year agreement.

The players five-year proposal, based on an annual 7.1 percent increase in league revenue, had their share dropping no lower than 52 percent.

Neither side has budged since those two proposals and on Thursday the league announced that all regular season games through Oct. 24 have been cancelled.

I think both sides know what their next proposal is, its just who wants to give it first, Alzner said. The owners know what their bottom percentage is and Im sure Don Fehr knows whats going to be a good one for us economically.

But whos going to be the first one to bite the bullet? No one wants to lose the negotiation. We understand were definitely not going to win it.

Just like the players in 2004, the current NHL players know that to come to an agreement they will need to concede to some type of salary rollbacks. Theyre just hesitant to admit it.

This is our living, Alzner said. This is how we all support our families and ourselves. We need to play eventually.

The owners, the reason they got to where they are is because they have other ventures. They have other ways to support themselves. We need to find a way to make it work. Unfortunately, its by taking a pay cut or by going overseas. The owners that are losing money have other businesses, so theyre OK. A lot of us dont have businesses. We just have to wait until we get the call.

Which brings us to an even more important issue to Capitals fans. If, indeed, the players are forced to take a pay cut in order to reach labor peace, will Alex Ovechkin come back?

Last month Ovechkin said he would consider staying in Russia if the NHL forced him to give back a percentage of the 88 million the Caps agreed to pay him over the remaining nine seasons on his contract.

Was Ovechkin simply being militant, or was he serious about staying in Russia?

You dont want to see that and you just hope it doesnt happen, Alzner said. Honestly, I dont know the seriousness of it. The only one who does know is him. For the sake of the Capitals I hope thats not for real. Hes a big face of this league and we need to have him.

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals


John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted the line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home in Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s also signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.


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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson


Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.