So…about the CBA

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Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded and another NHL season is in the books, it’s time for hockey fans to turn their attentions elsewhere. The draft is coming up. Free agency is next. However, the biggest story of the offseason is likely to be the CBA negotiations.

The labor agreement between the league and the players’ union expires Sept. 15. There will be several issues on the table, from supplementary discipline to realignment to participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

As always, though, money will lead all.

Currently the players are guaranteed 57 percent of hockey-related revenues. But with the NFL and NBA having just cut the players’ share in those two leagues, some believe NHL owners will attempt to do the same.

If that happens, expect the NHLPA, led by new chief Donald Fehr, to dig in.

Fortunately, there’s no guarantee it will come to that. The owners know the players surrendered a ton to end the 2004-05 lockout by accepting a hard salary cap. And what of the countless press releases by the NHL trumpeting the league’s successes?

Sure, there are still struggling franchises. On the other hand, there are plenty that are extremely profitable. According to Forbes, the value of the Toronto Maple Leafs rose from $280 million in 2004 to $521 million in 2011.

In stark contrast, the NHL was claiming huge losses prior to the lockout that wiped away the 2004-05 season. Some franchises were saying they were better off going out of business than carrying on without cost certainty, aka a salary cap. Even the majority of fans agreed something had to be done.

We’re not hearing that sort of sabre rattling this time around.

“I don’t understand all the speculation and the degree of negativity,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said recently.

Look, the league and union know they’ll get absolutely killed by fans and media if there’s another lengthy work stoppage. In fact, they’ll get killed if there’s any work stoppage. Seriously, in this economy? Not worth it for either side.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.