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Fehr comments on NHL owners' proposal


Fehr comments on NHL owners' proposal

NHL Players Association executive director Don Fehr addressed the media in Toronto shortly after the NHL’s proposal to evenly split hockey-related revenue on the contingency of playing a full 82-game season by Nov. 2. Here is his exchange with the media:
As you probably heard from Gary [Bettman] a little while ago, he and Bill Daly did deliver a new proposal dealing principally with core economic matters today. It’s not short and there were some explanatory documents that we still have to wade through. And so the process we’re going to engage in now, as you might expect, is to make sure that we read it completely and thoroughly, that we understand it, that we understand what it would mean in connection with the existing proposals the NHL has, and the existing proposals we have on the table.
Then, obviously, what we will do is discuss it internally with our own negotiating committee and executive board and then get back together with the NHL. Whether getting back together with them will be later [Tuesday] or [Wednesday] or exactly when it will be I don’t know. I expect it will be sooner rather than later, having said that. So we’ll have to take a look at how that works.
We’re always happy to receive a proposal. We’re always going to study it. Gary indicated to me and I suspect he indicated to you that they would still like to get a full 82-game season in. We, of course, share that view and would like to get a full 82-game season in. And so what our hope is, is that after we review this there will be a feeling on the players side that this is a proposal from which we can negotiate and try and reach a conclusion. But we’re not in a position to make any comments about it beyond that at this point. So that’s where we are in essence.
[Gary Bettman] didn’t say final offer, so are you encouraged by that?
Look, whenever you make an offer in bargaining, especially one in the midst of a dispute where you have a lockout in place, you make an offer, you expect discussions, you expect further negotiation. I wouldn’t have anticipated he would say that.
Do you see the offer as an improvement on the previous offers?
In some respects I think it is. In other respects I’m not sure. But we have to look at it in detail. I don’t want to reach an overall conclusion until we’ve had an opportunity to do that kind of review. It’s unfair of the process and the players would like me to be sure what I’m talking about before I say that.
Is there anything that can be read into the fact their proposal was not dismissed outright?
I would caution you not to read anything into my comments beyond what I have said, OK? I would like to believe this will be an excellent starting point and we can go forward and see if a deal can be made. But I’m not commenting at all on the specifics of it.
Did you have any indication they were making a proposal today?
No specific indication, no. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we were surprised by it. In bargaining sometimes somebody says, ‘I’ll have a proposal.’ and sometimes they just have it. It works that way on both sides.
Is it possible to have a 50-50 split without escrow or rollbacks for the players?
Not without having very large escrow in the early years.
Did you see anything in those early years that suggests contracts will be honored without having them go into really big escrows?
We haven’t been able to run any numbers yet, much less formulate a response. I really don’t want to comment on it. It would be unfair and I think counterproductive to do that.
Is it possible this offer jumpstarts negotiations?
Well, I’ve been looking for a way to get these negotiations jumpstarted and if this does it that would be great. We’ll see, though.
Have you received calls from players today?
Have I? Yes. I get calls from players all the time and I’m reasonably certain this day is not likely to be different than others and that there will be a number [of calls] that have come in while I’m down here with all of you. A number of players will ask why I’m not returning their calls. They seem to think I work for them, so we will see.
Are you encouraged?
I think it’s always good to get another proposal and I hope after we digest it we’ll think it’s a place from which we can go forward. I’m just not prepared to comment on it beyond that yet.
Do you feel obligated to come back with some kind of response?

If there is a response we can make that will advance the process, of course we will.
Is there a case in which you do not?
I’m not going to speculate on that at all until we’ve had an opportunity to go through it.
What do you do now?

I go back upstairs, I assemble my staff, and we begin to go through the proposal point by point and then we begin to reach out to the players, talk to them and figure out what we do from here. It could be that there will be a bunch of questions. It could be that we have telephone contact.
Was the proposal considered one that will expire as the previous proposal did on Sept. 15?
My memory is that it’s predicated on a full season, which they believe must start by early November if you’re going to do that. That’s what they said.
Gary said long-term. Can you tell us how long?
I’m not sure precisely what it is. It’s at least six years in their proposal.

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In a contract year, Andre Burakovsky is still trying to find offensive consistency

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In a contract year, Andre Burakovsky is still trying to find offensive consistency

Injuries and a suspension to Tom Wilson have kept things interesting for Todd Reirden in his first season as head coach of the Capitals.

At first, that meant figuring out an optimal lineup out of the players who were still available. But now there will be another challenge Reirden faces as the team continues to get healthy and that’s figuring out who to take out of the lineup.

On Tuesday, that player was Burakovsky.

“I just felt like going into [Tuesday’s] game that the other players had taken more advantage of the opportunity than he had recently,” Reirden said before Tuesday’s game. “For me, it's a rewards/earned ice time situation where there's a lot of competition. What happens is when players get opportunities and they play well, then it creates competition. Some have to win, some have to lose in that competition. Right now, that's what we've chosen to go with.”

Burakovsky’s career has been plagued by up-and-down play and scoring slumps. For the season, he has managed only eight points in 29 games. He did manage to score the game-winner against Arizona on Dec. 6, but that goal came after two very lackluster period of play by him.

“It's part of sports, I guess,” Burakovsky said Wednesday. “It is a tough sport. You're competing against the best players in the world. That's just how it is right now and I've just got to battle through it.”

Burakovsky has been cycled throughout the lineup this season, but has not gained any traction with any line or with any particular linemates so far. Thus, a player with top-six skill finds himself on the outside looking in at the lineup.

“I think guys on the team has been playing really well and deserve to play and have done a little bit more than maybe I have in the past now,” Burakovsky said. “We've been winning so that's most important thing and when I get the chance, I'm just going to go in and do my thing, play my game.”

Reirden said he was impressed by how Burakovsky has responded in practice. Given Reirden’s “rewards” system of coaching that should mean Burakovsky gets back into the lineup sooner rather than later. But if he continues to struggle to keep his production up, he will have a hard time staying in.

With both Oshie and Wilson now back from injury, the Caps have 14 forwards on the roster meaning two forwards will have to be scratched each game. There’s no one currently in the top six you would take out for Burakovsky and considering how well players like Brett Connolly are playing plus the chemistry the fourth line has found, there is not much room to plug in a struggling winger who still cannot find any consistent production.

This also calls into question what Burakovsky’s future on the team may be. Burakovsky is on the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It will take a qualifying offer of $3.25 million from the Caps just to retain his rights as an RFA meaning general manager Brian MacLellan is going to have to determine if he is worth that much.

As dire as his contract situation may appear from the outside looking in – especially for a player who has had confidence issues in the past – he says his next contract is not something he is thinking too much about.

“I'm not worried about my future,” Burakovsky said. “I know what I can do out there. I think I've proved what I can do and sometimes you just have to battle a little bit harder than you wanted to and it's going to happen. Right now, I think it's kind of what I'm doing.”


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Capitals prospect report: Alex Alexeyev reportedly taken to hospital after dangerous hit


Capitals prospect report: Alex Alexeyev reportedly taken to hospital after dangerous hit

Scary news out of the WHL as Capitals prospect Alex Alexeyev had to be helped off the ice and was reportedly taken to the hospital after taking a dangerous hit during Tuesday’s game.

Kamloops forward Zane Franklin checked Alexeyev who fell face-first into the boards.

Luckily for Alexeyev, Red Deer and the Caps, it appears he avoided any major injury. He underwent an x-ray and a CAT scan, both of which were negative and the team considers him day-to-day. A team spokesman said he could play in the team’s game Friday, but that has not yet been determined.

Alexeyev was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft by Washington and has had a phenomenal season to this point with seven goals and 24 assists in 29 games for Red Deer. His 31 points ranks second on the team and tied for fourth among defensemen in the WHL.

Other prospect notes:

·        Sergei Shumakov’s time with the Capitals organization is over. The Russian forward was placed on unconditional waivers Friday and his contract was terminated by the team after he refused to practice Thursday and notified the Hershey Bears he intended to leave the team. According to a team official, the entire incident took the team by surprise. Shumakov was getting top-six minutes and power play time, but that evidently was not enough. A hand injury limited him to just 10 games this season, but he scored three goals and four points. Granted, Shumakov did not leave the KHL – where he scored 17 goals and 40 points in 47 games last season – for an AHL career, but from what he showed in training camp, he was not close to being ready for the NHL. There is also a crowded offensive roster ahead of him on Washington’s depth chart so a call up this season was becoming less and less likely. It was a low risk move for the Caps to sign him and this time, it didn’t pan out.

·        It was expected that Shumakov would return to the KHL, but he instead signed with another AHL team, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Springfield is the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers who, reportedly, were among the teams interested in acquiring Shumakov’s services when he first indicated he was coming to the NHL. In three games with his new team, Shumakov has one point, a goal.

·        Ilya Samsonov earned his first win in nearly a month as he saved 28 shots in Saturday’s 6-3 win over Hartford. It is his fourth win of the season and snapped a personal four-game losing streak.

·        How’s this for a weekend? Riley Barber was recalled by the Caps Friday as insurance with the team on the road and T.J. Oshie not quite ready to come back yet. He was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game in Columbus, was then reassigned to Hershey and scored a goal against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday. The goal was Barber’s ninth power play goal of the season. He has 19 points in 21 games.

·        Tobias Geisser joins the list of Caps prospects who will be representing their countries at the IIHF World Juniors. Geisser will play for Switzerland. Also participating in world juniors will be Alexeyev (Russia) (hopefully) and Martin Fehervary (Slovakia). Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen will be representing Norway in the Division I tournament playing for a spot in next year’s world juniors championship.

·        Shane Gersich has missed the last two games for the Bears due to an upper body injury. It is believed Gersich suffered the injury after a check to the head from David Kase of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday. Gersich would finish that game, but has missed both of Hershey’s games since. Kase was suspended two games for the hit. Here’s a look:

·        There were a lot of firsts this past week. Prospects Garrett Pilon and Maximilian Kammerer both scored their first AHL goals in Sunday’s game. Geisser also registered his first AHL point with an assist on Pilon’s goal. Here’s a look at the goal by Kammerer:

·        Colby Williams registered three assists in Saturday’s win over Hartford. It was the first three-assist night of Williams’ AHL career.

·        The AHL issued a two-game suspension to Beck Malenstyn on Tuesday for an illegal check to the head of Hartford forward Ryan Lindgren. He was out Sunday’s game and will not play Saturday in Providence.

·        Tyler Lewington played in his 200th AHL game Saturday and registered two assists for just the second time in his career. He also scored his second goal of the season on Sunday. Through 201 games in Hershey, he has registered a total of 447 penalty minutes.