Donald Fehr

Donald Fehr mum but hopeful about future labor negotiations

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No one wants to think about it yet, but the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHLPA runs out on September 15. New NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has a lot of hockey fans worried about a labor stoppage thanks to his work with the MLBPA, but Fehr is hopeful there won’t be any problems.

In an interview with Sean Fitz-Gerald of The National Post, Fehr reiterates his stand on how he sees things when it comes time to negotiate and if he thinks a labor stoppage is in the NHL’s future.

“All I can say is, I would certainly hope not. In the last negotiation, there obviously was a long stoppage at the owners’ instigation. Both long stoppages in hockey have been lockouts, the players haven’t had any extended strikes.”

Fehr says he hopes talks between the two sides will start after the All-Star Game in January but he’s not ready to say when.

Everyone is always hoping for the best but if you’re thinking of only the negative with Fehr, since the 1994 MLB lockout he’s negotiated two agreements with MLB that helped grow the sport into a cash cow. The NHL’s players would like him to bring that sort of labor magic to hockey.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.