I know what you’re thinking when you see the headline. “Oh hell no, not more of this stuff!”
That’s a fine, fair and normal reaction but for those of you thinking that the NHLPA rolled over when the NHL punished the New Jersey Devils for circumventing the salary cap on their first contract offer for Ilya Kovalchuk, you’d be dead wrong. At least according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks and his NHLPA sources you would be.
Slap Shots has been told that the delay of approximately 12 hours in finalizing the agreement reached in the early hours of Sept. 4 was caused by the union’s insistence that the Devils not be penalized with a loss of salary-cap space for having been found guilty of circumvention by arbitrator Richard Bloch on the first Kovalchuk contract submission.
The NHL, we’re told, finally yielded after it became clear that the union, protecting up to $3 million of New Jersey’s potential payroll, was not going to surrender on the issue.
Somehow we doubt that Lamoriello will be spending much time badmouthing Donald Fehr over the next two years.
Somehow we’re having a difficult time envisioning Gary Bettman re-appointing Lamoriello to the league’s negotiating committee during the next round of collective bargaining.
Standing up and fighting over this issue in particular turns out to be a huge win for the NHLPA. Losing $3 million in cap space would’ve changed the entire dynamic of the deal and would’ve served as a severe punishment for the Devils or any other team in the league that tried to do the same thing in the future.
While the Devils were already going to have to give up someone to get under the cap this year, picture them having to give up one or two more players to go along with that to make sure they could get Kovalchuk’s deal done. That would not be so pretty for the Devils nor effective for the union to sacrifice jobs like that to get contracts they want approved by the league.
Considering how late into the night they went to get the deal done, you can’t help but picture both sides sitting in a meeting having the world’s worst staring contest to settle things out. The league still got to punish the Devils, taking a third round pick from them and a future first round pick of the Devils’ choosing as well as a stiff fine, but considering how much tougher that fine could’ve been enforced, it’s a small, yet still noticeable, victory. They don’t all have to be big wins for the world’s shakiest union, but getting both the contract they wanted done as well as not hurting other players’ jobs is certainly a little something to be proud of.
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.
The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.
Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.
After stunning the Anaheim Ducks with a Game 7 win in the first round, the Nashville Predators remain in California to take on the San Jose Sharks in the second round. You can catch Game 1 on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Sharks have some ‘pent up energy,’ eager to start series with Preds
Game 7 win is ‘a big step’ for Predators
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”