Marchand and Bruins continue to negotiate as training camp approaches

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Contract negotiations are a funny thing. Sometimes it can seem like there’s no hope—then the two sides come to an agreement quickly. Other times it seems like things are going relatively well, yet they drag on longer than anyone expects (see: Weber, Shea). Teams, players, and agents will all tell you the same thing: as long as both sides are talking, there’s hope. When contract talks break off—that’s when there’s cause for fear.

The good news for Bruins fans is that restricted free agent Brad Marchand and the Bruins are “working every day” to reach common ground. More specifically, the Bruins and Marchand’s agent are working every day to work a deal out. Marchand explained that the talks have increased recently:

“We’re working every day and hopefully something will be done before camp.”

(snip)

“I am a part of this team and there’s no reason for me not to be. I want to be here and I want to show them I’m in shape and I’m ready to go this year. I’m just waiting to see and get it done here.

From the team’s perspective, that’s exactly what they want to hear. In fact, Marchand is ready to get going—but unsurprisingly, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be able to practice with the team until a contract is finalized. Peter Chiarelli spoke to Joe Haggerty at CSNNE.com about the tone of the negotiations:

“It’s neither contentious nor amicable. It’s just a normal negotiation and it’s not done yet. He’s obviously a good player and a good kid, and we want to get him signed.”

Such is life with restricted free agents these days. The Bruins aren’t the only team dealing with a situation like this; and this isn’t the first year we’ve seen restricted free agents go down to the wire. Each team wants to get a deal done—because barring a freak offer sheet, each of these players is going to play for their respective teams during the 2011-12 season. They aren’t going anywhere. The sooner they can get signed and into camp, the better for any team trying to compete this season. No one wants to see a situation where the player ends up holding-out.

Like the saying goes, “if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.”

Both sides are looking at a shorter-term deal in the Marchand discussions. If both sides agree on a two-year deal like Haggerty says, then it will just come down to money. Is he worth Logan Couture’s $2.9 million per season? Is he worth the approximate $2.4 million per season that Teddy Purcell signed for in the offseason?

Odds are that his contract will end up in the Purcell neighborhood while he tries to prove that his incredible playoff performance was more than an aberration. If he can prove that he’s a perennial 20-goal scorer, who plays with grit, and has the ability to raise the bar in the playoffs, he’ll make his money in the future.

Of course, first thing is first. He needs to sign his “second” contract before anyone starts worrying about his “third” contract.

WATCH LIVE: Game 1 for Penguins – Capitals, Rangers – Senators

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It’s really happening.

For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.

The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.

Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: CNBC (Stream online here)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Sutter won’t retire from coaching, willing to join a rebuild

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Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.

But that’s not happening.

In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.

Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.

In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.

Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.

That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.

History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.

That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.

“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

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The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

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The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run