Gary Bettman; Bill Daly

Oh good, now pensions are an issue in CBA negotiations


Throw another contentious issue on the pile that already includes maximum contract lengths and the length of a new CBA between the NHL and NHLPA.

Yahoo!’s Nick Cotsonikas reports that owners were incensed Wednesday after the union became fixated on pensions. According to the NHL, it was yet another example of the players’ priorities acting as a “moving target.”

Now, to be fair, it sounds like there was good reason for the players to turn their attention to the matter of pensions – yesterday, the owners tied it to the “make-whole” provision the two sides have been fighting over.

From the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman:

With “make-whole,” there were reports last night (one of them mine) that the NHL upped its offer from $211 million to $300 million. That’s closer to the NHLPA’s last known request of $393 million. But later, there was a catch — that $50 million of it would be for pension funding. That’s a tricky one and sure to annoy the players.

Due to differing pension laws in the United States and Canada, players based in the U.S. can receive approximately $20,000 more per year in tax-free contributions from their clubs. It’s a nice little selling point for the American squads because if you play north of the 49th, you lose a good chunk of that difference to taxes. Not every player is a multi-millionaire, so that future protection really means something.

Big picture, this is the same argument the two sides have been having with regards to “honoring” current contracts that will be affected when the players’ share of hockey-related revenue is cut from 57 percent to 50. The NHL wants to make up the difference later, the players want it sooner. They’ve inched closer this week, but they’re not there yet.

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier
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Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.

Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games


One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.