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NHL lockout has become matter of principle

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NHL lockout has become matter of principle

To the players, the NHL lockout has become more about principle than about percentages.

It’s about owners honoring the contracts under which the players agreed to play.

“I hear a lot of stuff in the media that the players are greedy and they’re getting paid good money anyways,” Capitals left wing and resident lockout commentator Jason Chimera said Friday.

“But when you sign your name to a contract and you have set dollars – I don’t care where you are in life – some jobs you can sue the guy for not paying you [even though you have] a legal, binding contract. And the owners seem to think it’s OK not to honor the contracts.”

According to NHLPA union chief Don Fehr, under the 50-50 proposal issued by owners on Tuesday, players would be forced to have 12.3 percent of their pay placed in an escrow account.

In the case of Chimera, who makes $1.75 million, that means placing $215,250 into an escrow account in which he may never see a return. If you’re Alex Ovechkin and making $9 million, you’re talking about placing more than $1.1 million in escrow.

Perhaps that’s why Fehr’s final proposal to the owner on Thursday was so simplistic: Honor the current contracts and in all future contracts we’ll go to a 50-50 split on all hockey-related revenue.

“We said we’d go to 50-50 next year, just honor the contracts,” Chimera said. “We’re not asking for more, we’re giving up a lot to get this going. A billion dollars is not just a little chunk of change. We gave them three different options which all went down to 50-50

“So when I hear people say they can’t back the players, we’re not greedy people. We don’t want more. We want what we signed on our contracts. We just want in dollar terms what our contracts say they’re worth.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimated that if the owners agreed to honor the players’ current contracts it would result in a 56 or 57 percent share of the total revenue in Year 1 and estimated it would result in $650 million above the players’ current share.

With that proposal clearly out of the question, let’s examine what the players offered in their first counter proposal on Thursday, compared to the 50-50 proposal made by the owners two days before. Remember, this is with an annual growth rate of 5 percent, which is below the average of 7.1 over the past seven seasons:

NHLPA Offer
 
     League revenues    Players share    Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion    57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.920 billion    55.4 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1,980 billion    54.4 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $2.060 billion    53.9 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.060 billion    51.3 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion    50.0 percent       
                       
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $10.128 billion    52.8 percent    
 
NHL offer                      
 League revenues         Players share         Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion         57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.734 billion         50 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1.821 billion         50 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $1.912 billion         50 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.007 billion         50 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion         50 percent       
                            
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $9.582 billion         50 percent    

Chimera smiled nervously when asked if he was optimistic the season could be saved.

“Optimistic is kind of a loose term,” he said. “It seems the boundaries are there to make a deal. If they said yes to honoring our contracts it could probably get done in six hours.

"We don’t feel like we have to take a step back to take a step forward. We feel we can both take steps forward and we’ll both benefit from it.”

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

Radko Gudas was surprised, but also relieved. A different year in Philadelphia, where everything seemed to go wrong for the Flyers, is behind him now. He plays for the Capitals now. 

 

“I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” Gudas said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But when I heard where I'm going, I was pretty happy that I got traded to a team that's well known for their winning and their will to win every game they play.”

 

It capped a whirlwind few days for the 29-year-old, a polarizing figure in the sport along the lines of Washington forward Tom Wilson. Gudas has been suspended four times by the NHL Department of Player Safety. To say he plays the game on the edge is an understatement.

 

“Staying on right line of suspensions: It's always tough lately in the hockey these last few years,” Gudas said. “I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team. It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job.”

 

In the midst of a rough year for Philadelphia that saw a coach firing and a late playoff surge fall short, Gudas took advantage of increased ice time – and cut his penalty minutes to 63 from a high of 116 when he joined the Flyers four years earlier. He will never be a big offensive threat, but he’s figured out how to suppress shots and play a reliable defensive game.

 

At a friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic on Friday when he got the news, Gudas received messages from his new teammates and wasn’t even sure who, exactly, of the Capitals coaches he spoke with. There was a lot going on. But he’s excited to play “for a well oiled machine” like Washington, which has its 2018 Stanley Cup and has won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row. 

 

Gudas knows fellow Washington defenseman Michal Kempny, 29, well. The two men were born just three months apart in 1990 and were teammates on the World Juniors under-18 Czech Republic team in 2008. They reconnected in 2017 for the Czech Republics’ entry in the IIHF World Championships. Jakub Vrana, 23, is a third Czech on one of the NHL’s most diverse rosters and played with Gudas at the 2019 World Championships. Kempny was still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained during the regular season. 

 

That familiarity is nice, but Gudas has been traded before when Tampa Bay sent him to Philadelphia in 2015. You just adjust to the role given with your new team. He’s ready for a fresh start with the Capitals. 

 

“They’re the winners from last year, they were the contenders this year,” Gudas said. “They always have a good team. They in the playoffs every year all these years. Play my simple game, the guys to know what to expect for me and know I’ll be there for them.”

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Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

With the NHL Draft just a few days away in Vancouver and after countless mock drafts, NBC Sports Washington will have you covered as the Capitals decide who to take with the 25th overall pick.

As part of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the NHL Draft, the Capitals Talk Podcast will host 'Capitals On the Clock: Draft Night' on linear television and as a live stream on the NBC Sports MyTeams app.

Capitals Talk will sit down with Rob Carlin, Grant Paulsen, Al Koken, Michael Jenkins, J.J. Regan and Brian McNally to discuss the Capitals the 2019 Draft. They'll be joined by Zack Fisch, Manager of Media Relations & Broadcasting with the Hershey Bears, who will shed light on who's ready to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

The live stream will also include an NHL and Capitals Draft trivia segment which fans will be able to play along with.

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Capitals Talk Podcast "Capitals on the Clock" Special

When: 8 p.m. Friday June 21

Where: NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports MyTeams App

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