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Kolzig: NHL needs to avoid 'ugly' lockout

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Kolzig: NHL needs to avoid 'ugly' lockout

With preliminary labor negotiations continuing this week in New York, former Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig is hoping the NHL and its players are smart enough not to make the same mistakes they made in 2004-05, when the entire season was lost in a labor dispute.

Nobody wants to see a lockout, especially with the momentum the NHL has gained over the last few years, Kolzig said during the Capitals development camp. But you understand why and its the not-so-fun part of sports.

I suspect both sides understand the NHL has grown so much the last few years and they dont want to slow any momentum down or give any kind of negative outlook toward the NHL. So theyll try their hardest to get it done.

Eight years ago, Kolzig said NHL Players made the tragic mistake of thinking they could bully the leagues 30 owners into sharing more of the leagues revenue and agreeing to a CBA without a salary cap. It was a gross miscalculation that cost players millions of dollars in salary.

That was awful, Kolzig recalled. I dont think our union was prepared for the tough stance of the owners. We were waiting to call their bluff and they didnt blink and we didnt really have a Plan B, and as a result we missed the whole season.

At the time of the lockout, Kolzig was at the apex of his earning power, making 6.25 million. He made another 17.34 million over the final four years of his career but pointed out others were not as fortunate.

Its money Ill never make back," he said. "That was the peak of my career and for a lot of other players it was the end of their careers. It was just an ugly situation that I dont think anybody wants to see happen again, no matter what sport it is.

Talks between the NHL Players Association and the NHL began on June 29 and will continue on Friday in New York.

Among the issues being discussed are:

Revenue sharing: The current CBA has 57 percent of the leagues revenues going to the players. The owners are looking to divide that revenue equally at 50 percent each. The owners also must decide how much relief small-market teams should receive from the leagues most profitable teams.

Salary cap floor: The salary cap is here to stay, but owners want to lower the salary cap floor below its current 54.2 million. The Capitals, by the way, are just 655,428 above the cap floor, according to capgeek.com.

Long-term contracts: The owners want to protect themselves from giving contracts that exceed players ability to fulfill them. Case in point: Chris Pronger is 37 and has five more years and 19.25 million remaining on his deal. They also would like to see some kind of amnesty from overpriced contracts for underperforming players who are hidden in the minors for the length of their deals, such as Wade Redden.

Olympic participation: Most of the players want it, but Gary Bettman and many team owners do not, at least not when the Winter Games are being staged in Russia, as they are in 2014. Owners do not see the benefits of shutting down the league for two-plus weeks for TV coverage that is eight hours behind while running the risk of star players getting injured.

Kolzig seems less than certain an agreement will be made before the current deal expires on Sept. 15, which could mean condensed training camps and preseason schedules and a delayed start to the 2012-13 season.

But hes be surprised to see the same carnage as in 2004-05.

If for whatever reason it doesnt get done by September 15, Id assume it would get done in a short amount of time after that, Kolzig said. I dont think youre going to see what happened in 2004.

It wont be as biased as it was back in 2004. Both sides really are going to try to hammer something out.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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