Dan Cleary

Detroit’s Cleary: Players think lockout can go a year, “maybe longer”

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Those looking for positive developments regarding the NHL lockout, avert your eyes.

Detroit Red Wings forward Dan Cleary — a veteran of the last lockout — told the Free Press this current work stoppage could be as long, if not longer, than the one that wiped out the 2004-05 season.

“I think people don’t think it can go a year,” he said. “As players, we think it can. Maybe longer.”

Cleary, 33, has been a prominent voice throughout the current strife.

He’s attended numerous labor meetings and while he isn’t on the NHLPA’s 31-player negotiating committee — Henrik Zetteberg is the Wings’ rep — Cleary understands the importance of being an active part of the process.

“It’s important to have veteran presence there, and to represent Detroit,” he told USA Today back in August. “It’s not too far to go, either; the meetings are usually either in New York or Toronto.”

Three weeks before the expiration of the CBA, Cleary put the odds of a lockout at 50/50, saying he was optimistic when the NHLPA made its first offer but less optimistic upon hearing the owners’ counter-proposal.

Now, pessimism reigns.

“Just trying to be realistic,” Cleary said. “I think the league is waiting for us to make the move, and we’re waiting for them to move.

“So someone has to move. And I don’t see it coming from our end.”

On the other end of the spectrum sits Washington forward Mike Ribeiro. He feels the owners are waiting until players miss their first few paychecks — in what would essentially mimic a rollback of around 20 percent.

“This time I think we’re more optimistic,” Ribeiro told CSN Washingon. “Hopefully [this ends] by the end of November, so we can have December with hockey. But [the owners’] game plan, at least in my opinion, is that they’ll start paying guys after a month and a half or two months, after they get the 20 percent they wanted.

“They want their 20 percent [rollback of salaries] and the players don’t want to give it back, so let’s just not play until the 20 percent is not spent.”

NHL players usually receive their first paycheck in late October but, this year, they are expected to receive eight percent escrow checks at that time.

As such, many players won’t feel the financial pinch until well into November.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.