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This time, NHL players are digging in deep

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This time, NHL players are digging in deep

Based on what they are saying after more than five weeks of negotiations,NHL players are applying The Who philosophy on their next Collective BargainingAgreement.We Wont Get Fooled Again. Take a poll of players who endured the 2004-05 lockout and each will tellyou the union surrendered far more than it gained. After that entire season waslost in a labor dispute players agreed to a 24 percent rollback on salaries alongwith a salary cap.One of the things the players asked me, union chief Donald Fehr toldreporters last week in Chicago,is, Why did we give them what we did the last time if this was going to bethe result this time?The NHL and its players association are scheduled to meet again on Wednesdaywith the hope of making enough progress to avoid a Sept. 15 work stoppage.Fehr says hes fearful NHL owners may use a similar strategy as they did in2004, when he said owners used a work stoppage as a strategy of first choice,not the strategy of last resort.This time around, the players want a say in how the NHL spends its money. Ifthey are going to have a partnership with the league, they want a plan that keepssmall-market teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes economicallycompetitive.Under the players most recent proposal the NHLs wealthier teams will berequired to distribute more than 250 million per season to the teams havingfinancial struggles.Under the owners July 13 proposal, the players share in revenue would becut from 57 percent to 43 percent and the salary cap would be adjusted from athreshold of 8 million above the midpoint to 4 million above.If that plan went into effect, the current NHL salary cap of 70.2 million wouldreportedly drop as low as 50.8 million next season. Thats a non-startingpoint for the players, who say the owners proposal would cost them about 450million each season.Both sides are saying there is enough time for compromise. But with trainingcamps set to open in less than one month its a stretch to think the NHL wonthave a work stoppage that extends well into October, November or beyond.

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

On Monday morning, just a week shy of the official start to the 2018-19 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers triumphantly announced their new mascot and, full disclosure, it’s terrifying.

Meet Gritty.

The furry orange abomination is a cross between fabled Canadiens' (and Expos) mascot Youppi, The Muppet Show’s Animal, and something that would probably murder you in your sleep.

He’s named Gritty, because, according to the Flyers’ official webpage, is supposed to reflect the strength, tenacity, and raw passion of the team and their fanbase.

His portly figure and bouncy, gyrating hips are not the problem. In fact, watching him move is kind of delightful.

No, the real problem here is his eyes. Those oddly realistic googly eyes,  following his every movement and hip circle ike a car accident you just can’t look away from. His mouth, always agape, is the icing on the nightmare fuel cake..

Hockey fans online went into a tizzy after the reveal. Monday's primary activity was to lay into the Flyers' new mascot with heavy heat.

Despite their divisional rivalry, the Caps’ own loveable eagle Slapshot welcomed Gritty to the family in a very diplomatic manner. 

Other teams in the Metropolitan division, namely the Pittsburgh Penguins however, were not so kind.

According to his official bio, “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed [Gritty’s] secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.” We think this is supposed to be charming and mysterious in the same way that everyone describes Bigfoot, but it mostly works at convincing us to head for the hills. 

You can also book him for event appearances. We’d recommend him as a supportive presence at divorce hearings, or as the featured guest at your horrible cousin’s wedding.

It’s worth noting that other Metropolitan teams are not without mascot sins. In 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a NSFW cannon named Boomer, who barely survived half a season before being retired. 

Thankfully, Caps fans only have to handle Slapshot's themed costumes for special events this season.

Philly, we’re happy for you, but you can keep Gritty within city limits.

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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

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NBC Sports Washington

It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.

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