Capitals

Quick Links

Bettman hopes offer saves full NHL season

garybettman_10-16.png

Bettman hopes offer saves full NHL season

The following is a transcript of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s news conference with reporters Tuesday after the league’s owners offered the players a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue:

As I think all of you know we have been extremely disappointed – and that’s an understatement – that we have been unable to get these negotiations on the essential elements moving forward.

So today, we began by discussing with Don [Fehr] and Steve [Fehr] if we were to drop the puck on November 2nd for the start of the regular season we could preserve an 82-game schedule for the regular season and play full playoffs as we normally do and be done before the end of June. We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season and in that light we made a proposal – an offer, really. It is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs.

This offer that we made, obviously, was contingent upon having an 82-game regular season. While you know we don’t negotiate publicly and I’m not going to break that habit that we have formed because I don’t think it’s constructive, the fact of the matter is we offered a 50-50 share of HRR – hockey related revenues – and we believe we addressed the concern that players have about what happens to their salaries as a result in this year of reducing the percentage from 57 to 50 percent.

Beyond that I don’t want to get into the substance other than to say we believe this is a fair offer for a long-term deal and it’s one we hope gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on November 2nd, which backing up entails at least a one-week training camp. So we have about nine or 10 days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward. We hope that this effort that we’ve undertaken today will be successful because we know how difficult this all has been for everybody associated with the game, particularly our fans.

How confident are you that this will go forward?

We certainly hope it will. We’ve given it our best shot.

What was their reaction?

Their reaction was that they obviously need to study it. So we told them we’re available to them but they’re going to need some time to review it and I respect that portion of the process. Obviously, they’ve got to understand the offer and get comfortable with it.

Did the offer focus on just the core economic issues or was it the whole thing?

We had a number of significant elements that we believe can and should serve as the basis of a deal to get us playing hockey.

Why make the offer today?

Because if we want to preserve an 82-game regular season and you back up the timetable in terms of the schedule we needed to do it. By the way … the compression that would be involved is one additional game every five weeks. Beyond that we don’t think it would be good for the players or for the game. … If we didn’t do it now, if we didn’t put an offer on the table that we thought was fair and could get us playing hockey, then it probably wasn’t going to happen for a while because it’s done in the spirit of getting a full season in.

Is it 50-50 across the board or is it descending?

It’s 50-50 across the board.

How long would the contract be?

I’m not going to get into the specifics. We proposed a long-term contract we think that’s in everybody’s interests. That’s what we think our fans want.

Can you address how you address rollbacks or escrows?

There is no rollback and I’m not getting into the specifics. It would not be constructive at this point in time. The union has some work to do and we respect the process. I’ve probably gone further than I have in terms of discussing what we proposed at any other time but I’m not comfortable going any further. I’m more concerned about the process right now and getting us back on the ice.

How worried are you that they might say no and more of the season will be lost?

I don’t want to even go there.

Is the league amenable to playing an abbreviated schedule?

We’re focused on getting the puck dropped on November 2nd and playing a full 82-game regular season and full playoffs. That’s what this offer is all about.

Will you make plans to meet later in the week?

We’re going to be on call to them. They have some work to do internally. Obviously, we didn’t put this proposal this offer together overnight and they’re going to need a little bit of time to review it and I’m hoping that review will get us to a positive and constructive place.

     

Quick Links

Why the Capitals' new penalty kill strategy isn't working

Why the Capitals' new penalty kill strategy isn't working

After the first day of training camp in September under new head coach Todd Reirden, he made clear one of the changes he wanted to see this season.

“I think you look at certain areas that you like to improve on,” Reirden said. “You look at where things settled out for us last year in the regular season statistically and then particularly as we went through the playoffs areas you can get better. There is always room to get better, and those were some spots I thought we could make some adjustments to in the penalty kill and some other things that you’ll maybe see as we move forward. I would say that would be the biggest difference there.”

Washington’s new-look power play, however, has gotten off to a rocky start and cost the team two losses in their last four games, despite giving up only two goals at five-on-five. 

The Capitals penalty kill is down to 71.7-percent, which ranks 29th in the NHL. During the last four games, Washington gave up six power-play goals, including two against an Arizona Coyotes team -- which handed the Caps their most recent loss, 4-1, Sunday -- that ranks in the lower half of the league in its power play efficiency and was playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. 

“Obviously, we’re struggling there, and it’s something that we’ve got to be better at,” Nicklas Backstrom said.

The addition of players like Evgeny Kuznetsov (1:16 of penalty kill time on Sunday) signaled a more aggressive style of penalty killing, one in which teams have to account for Washington’s offensive threat even while on the power play. You can see that more aggressive style at work as the Caps clearly try to push the puck into the offensive zone more so than in years past.

Thus far, however, the team has struggled to find a balance between pushing the offense while not leaving themselves vulnerable defensively. That was evident Sunday on Arizona’s first goal.

While on the penalty kill, three Caps players joined the rush for an offensive opportunity that ended with Darcy Kuemper saving a shot from John Carlson. The Coyotes turned a big rebound into a rush in the other direction, and the Caps were caught completely out of position. While the penalty killers nearly got back in time, they had no time at all to set up the penalty kill, and Arizona capitalized with a few quick passes.

“It’s just a bad read by us,” Backstrom said. “Too many guys attacking there instead of maybe playing it out and waiting for it to be five-on-five. We saw an opportunity. It’s easy to say that after, too. But, yeah, there’s absolutely an area that we can be better at.”

If the Caps want to find a way to be offensively dangerous and also defensively sound on the penalty kill, they need look no further than their opponent on Sunday. Not only do the Coyotes boast the top penalty kill in the league with a success rate of 91.8-percent, but they have also tallied an incredible nine shorthanded goals already this season. They have found a formula that works for them in both ends of the ice, something that clearly has proven elusive for the Caps.

It should be noted that Washington is also missing Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik from the lineup, three players who were major contributors to the penalty kill last season. While Beagle has moved on to the Vancouver Canucks, they will be getting Wilson and Orpik back at some point. Their addition will provide a boast, but for now, the Caps need to find a solution and fast because the penalty kill is clearly costing them points in the standings.

“I think there's some ways of evaluating it that it's getting better, but it's not getting it done,” Reirden said after Sunday’s game. “You can continue to look at it different ways. We have some different personnel in that situation, a different way of going about things on the penalty kill, but right now it's costing us games. We can't expect to win when you're giving up penalty kill goals like we are at the rate we are right now.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: Caps finish off a sluggish home stand

holtby-coyotes-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: Caps finish off a sluggish home stand

One of the major talking points of the offseason was whether or not the Caps could avoid the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Well despite all the planning by the team on how to avoid it and all the talk about how they would avoid it, guess what? At 7-6-3, they find themselves right smack dab in the middle of it.

Washington’s title defense has gotten off to a sluggish start and the team now finds itself tied for fifth in the Metropolitan Division with 17 points.

SEE THIS WEEKS’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE 

Here are a few observations from the past week:

  •  People won’t want to hear it, but the Caps did show improvement in the two areas that were the biggest question marks heading into their five-game home stand, goaltending and five-on-five defense. Braden Holtby looks much improved from the start of the season giving credence to his claim that he plays better when he can get into a rhythm of playing frequently. As for the defense, Washington has allowed two five-on-five goals in their past four games. Any team would take that, but the Caps walked away with only two wins in those four games. That leads me to my next point…
  •  The penalty kill is atrocious right now. While the defense has allowed two five-on-five goals in the past four games, they also allowed six power play goals over that same stretch. When Todd Reirden said in training camp that he wanted the penalty kill to be more aggressive offensively, I think he envisioned something like what we see from Arizona right now. The Coyotes have the best penalty kill in the NHL (91.8-percent) and also have scored an absurd nine shorthanded goals already this season. The Caps have not figured out how to be aggressive offensively while not leaving themselves vulnerable defensively and that directly led to Arizona’s third goal on Sunday. Reirden and assistant coach Scott Arniel may need to study the Coyotes’ PK a little bit to figure out how they have been so dominant on both ends.
  •  Another issue the Caps face is on offense as they can’t score without the power play. In their last three games, they have scored only twice at five-on-five. For the season, Washington is 0-4-1 in games in which they have not scored at least one shorthanded goal.
  • If you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s this: the Metropolitan Division may be bad this year. The Metro division has won the Stanley Cup in each of the past three seasons, but the division as a whole looks like it’s taken a step back. Pittsburgh just snapped a five-game losing streak, you or I could play goalie for Philadelphia right now (and we’d probably be an upgrade), it’s only a matter of time before both the Islanders and Rangers bottom out, Columbus has been wildly inconsistent, Carolina can’t score and New Jersey has lost nine of its last 11 after starting 4-0. So don’t despair Caps fans, there’s still plenty of time for Washington to turn things around.
  • After a sluggish week at home, where do the Caps stand among the rest of the NHL? 

FIND OUT HERE IN THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: