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NHL calls on Cohen to end labor war


NHL calls on Cohen to end labor war

Since its beginnings, the NHL’s labor war has mirrored the work stoppage endured by the NBA last season.

Like their NBA counterparts, owners from the NHL have tried reducing the players’ share of league revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent. Like their NBA counterparts, the NHL players have strongly resisted.

On Monday the NHL and its players decided to place their dispute in the hands of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and – you guessed it – the chief mediator is the same gentleman who was appointed to settle the NBA lockout last season.

For the record, George H. Cohen did not ride in on a white horse and save the NBA last year. But his three days of intensive mediation certainly got the ball rolling, and the NHL is hoping for the same result when negotiating committees from both sides meet with Cohen in New York on Wednesday.

 “While we have no particular level of expectation going into this process, we welcome a new approach in trying to reach a resolution of the ongoing labor dispute at the earliest possible date,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr also showed a hint of optimism.

“We look forward to their involvement as we continue working to reach an equitable agreement for both the players and the owners,” he said in a statement.

Cohen has quite a resume when it comes to mediating high-profile negotiations.

He personally mediated disputes between Major League Soccer and it players; the Metropolitan Opera and its orchestra musicians; the NFL and its players; the Federal Aviation Administration and its air traffic controllers; the American Red Cross and a national coalition of labor unions; and most recently, the NFL and its officials.

Last year, Cohen first met with the NBA and its players on Oct. 17. The two sides met for about 30 hours over three days, but could not come to terms on a few key issues and mediation ended on Oct. 20.

The NBA players’ union took the next step by applying for decertification and in mid-November filed a class action lawsuit against the league’s owners. The two sides came to an agreement on Thanksgiving and the NBA was back on the court on Christmas Day.

It is worth noting that the NHL and its players sought mediation during the 2004-05 lockout and still lost the entire season.

The NHL and its players have stated they are about $182 million apart on the NHL’s “make whole” provision that promises players will be paid a portion of their current contracts in deferred increments.

If Cohen is able to close that gap, the NHL and its players can go to work on the contracting rights that were so hotly debated last week, when talks broke off and the league canceled all games through Dec. 14.

Although no one has spoken publicly on a deadline to salvage an abbreviated season, many believe that if the NHL cannot begin a truncated season by Jan. 1 it will become the first professional sports league in North America to lose two full seasons to labor disputes.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.


PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

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

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."