Gary Bettman, Bill Daly

Daly: “Major economic issues aren’t on the agenda” for this week’s CBA talks

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The good news is that the NHL and NHLPA will resume CBA negotiations Wednesday and Thursday in New York.

The “let’s all pull our hair out” news is that talks will focus on secondary issues, not the main sticking point of how to split up the league’s billions of dollars in revenues.

“Major economic issues aren’t on the agenda,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told USA Today on Monday via email.

Granted, there’s still time to put “major economic issues” on the agenda. It was reported last week that the NHLPA was working on a new proposal to present to the league.

But if “major economic issues” aren’t discussed Wednesday and Thursday, here’s hoping the two sides can resolve that contentious “Should each player get his own hotel room on road trips?” dispute.

Otherwise we might start worrying the entire season could be wiped out.

A few ‘bad decisions’ have been costing Lundqvist

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after giving up a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in New York. The Penguins won 6-1. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Henrik Lundqvist has set such a high bar that his 12-8-1 record with a .912 save percentage is cause for great concern these days in New York.

That his backup, Antti Raanta, is 6-1-0 with a .932 save percentage only contributes to that concern, because if Raanta can manage those numbers, what’s Lundqvist’s excuse?

“I feel like I’m tracking the puck well, moving well,” Lundqvist told the Daily News. “It just comes down to some bad decisions at times that cost me.”

Indeed, December has not started well for The King. He’s allowed 10 goals in three starts for a save percentage of .894. In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, his decision to poke check a loose puck led to the winning goal by Andrew Ladd.

But while this month has been a struggle, it should be noted that Lundqvist was mostly excellent in November. He finished with a .925 save percentage, including that 40-save victory on Black Friday in Philadelphia.

Which is to say, he has more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Since 2008-09, Lundqvist has not finished a season with a save percentage below .920, and that is a remarkable achievement.

Raanta was solid again last night in Winnipeg, where the Rangers beat the Jets, 2-1. A starting goalie for tonight’s game in Chicago has not yet been announced, but Lundqvist is a good bet.

Top 10 career save percentages among goalies with at least 300 NHL starts

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Jets send talented rookie Connor to AHL

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Kyle Connor is on his way to the minors.

On Friday, Winnipeg announced that Connor — the former Michigan Wolverines star taken 17th overall in 2015 — has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

Connor, 19, had just one goal and four points through 19 games this year, struggling to adjust to life at the professional level.

He’d been a healthy scratch for each of the Jets’ last six games and, prior to that, missed five games with an upper-body injury after getting nailed into the boards by L.A. forward Kyle Clifford.

The Jets are getting healthy up front, which further explains why Connor is on his way to the Moose. Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault both recently returned from injury.

 

NHL owners have ‘negative sentiment’ toward involvement in 2018 Olympics

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveils the League's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says there’s significant opposition among team owners to continuing participation in the Winter Olympics, and the league is running out of time on negotiations to take part in the 2018 Games.

Following a meeting of the league’s Board of Governors on Thursday, Bettman said no decision was made regarding Olympics participation in 2018 in South Korea.

“I think it’s fair to say that there is some strong negative sentiment in the room,” Bettman said. “But nothing was decided today.”

NHL players have competed in the past five Winter Olympics dating to 1998 and want to continue taking part, but owners are concerned about the midseason interruption and injury risk.

Bettman said his recent proposal to the NHL Players’ Association regarding an extension of the collective bargaining agreement in return for Olympic participation was part of a larger discussion about hockey’s international calendar.

“That discussion morphed into, `Maybe we should be talking about a long-term international schedule with predictability,”‘ Bettman said. “If you look at the calendar and you play it out in the logical sequences of the way these events get played, we said if you look at the calendar and get rid of the (CBA) reopeners and you extend by three years, that gets you two Olympics, two World Cups and two Ryder Cups.”

Such an agreement would ensure nine years of labor peace, but players rejected the proposal.

In other matters, the league gave owners a range for next season’s salary cap. Bettman projected it would remain flat or increase by about $2 million.

The NHL does not intend to reconsider the name or logo of the Las Vegas expansion franchise after U.S. patent authorities denied the club’s trademark request, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

“It’s much ado about nothing,” Daly said. “The franchise will go forward with that name and that logo. We have every expectation we’ll ultimately get that registration.”

Bettman has said a decision regarding the Olympics needs to be made by early January, giving the league time to create its 2017-18 schedule with or without a two-plus week break for the Olympics.

The Board of Governors meetings conclude Friday.

Ex-NHLer Kevin Stevens pleads guilty in drug conspiracy

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31:  Kevin Stevens #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game on December 31, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) A two-time Stanley Cup champion hockey player from Massachusetts has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.

The Boston Globe reports (http://bit.ly/2grdpkl ) 51-year-old Kevin Stevens entered the plea Thursday in a Boston federal court to a charge of conspiring with another man to sell oxycodone.

Prosecutors say Stevens and another man were involved in a scheme to sell the painkiller from August 2015 through at least March 2016 in several cities. A plea agreement says Stevens was responsible for 175 pills containing 30 milligrams each of oxycodone.

His attorney says Stevens has battled an addiction to painkillers for many years.

The Pembroke native played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.