Matt Bonner

Spurs’ Bonner cautions NHLers, says decertification “throws everything into chaos”


It only took two weeks after the National Basketball Players Association dissolved itself for the NBA’s lockout to end; however, San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner can’t say for certain if the union’s bold move pushed the owners to reach a season-saving deal with the players.

“I think only [NBA commissioner] David Stern and the owners can answer that. I’m sure they never would tell us,” Bonner told the Toronto Star recently. “Obviously it caused the deal to get done pretty soon thereafter. You could argue that helped the process.

“Or you could argue they had a timeline in mind anyway and were going to get a deal no matter what. Or you could argue they were going to push us to that point and squeeze us for every last drop and then cut a deal. I don’t know. They’ll never tell us.”

Despite what happened in basketball, Bonner has a word of warning for NHL players who may be considering decertification as a way to end the hockey lockout:

“It’s hard because it throws everything into chaos. It just adds a huge degree of uncertainty to the situation. It’s a tough decision for the players to make and it’s tough for the owners to deal with. That’s a possible strategy to get the owners to move, to budge.”

Bonner’s take is in line with what Canucks goalie Cory Schneider said on Monday.

“Decertification is not something you do half-heartedly,” Schneider said, as per The Province. “You can’t start to decertify in hopes that you’re going to get a deal done. If it doesn’t, you still have to push forward with it. Once the wheels are in motion, there’s no stopping. It’s a very serious decision and that’s why we’re a little reluctant to charge ahead without thinking.”

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen