CBA negotiations

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic still really, really frustrated with NHL’s Olympic decison

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We know that NHL players aren’t happy that they’ll be playing regular season games this month and not participating in the PyeongChang Olympics, which begin next week. (Those who wouldn’t have been going, of course, would have liked the extra vacation time.)

Since the NHL announced in April that it wouldn’t be sending players for the first time since 1994, players have been outspoken in their disagreement with the decision. “As cool as it for players to be a part of the Olympic experience, it’s a missed opportunity to expand our game,” said Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler during last weekend’s NHL All-Star festivities.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who won gold with Canada in 2014, has been the most vocal.

• When a report came out in Nov. 2016 that the NHL had offered the NHLPA Olympic participation in exchange for extending the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Vlasic responded, “That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”

• “It happens once every four years, but now we put in the World Cup, so a condensed schedule happens every two years,” he said via the Mercury News right after the NHL’s decision. “But for the World Cup it’s OK. Guys get injured in the World Cup, but that’s OK. Shorter summers, longer seasons, but that’s OK.”

• “What I’d like is for the NHL to openly give the real reasons for its refusal to go to Pyeongchang,” he wrote last June.

So, yeah, Vlasic is really pissed about not being able to represent Canada again. In a chat with Ross McKeon of SFGate.com, the 30-year-old defenseman detailed the lengths at which he went to get another opportunity.

“I would love to in 2022,” he said. “I’m fighting not only for myself in ’22, but for every other player who gets a chance to do it in 2026, ’30, ’34 and down the road. I’m not just thinking of myself, I’m thinking about all the players who deserve to go.”

That determination is what moved Vlasic to hold a conference call with lawyers and the NHL Players’ Association. Termination of his extension (which was signed July 1) was a possibility. The Sharks could be targeted for a suit, and ultimately Vlasic could be, too, if it could be proved that the product San Jose was putting on the ice during his absence wasn’t as good as if he had been playing.

According to Vlasic, he was told that a court order could be issued if a player still insisted on going. And, ultimately, a player could be arrested for violating the order if he played.

“I don’t think it would have gone that far, but it’s a possibility,” said Vlasic, who noted his initial thought when the league made its decision was to go no matter what.

Vlasic added that players should have Olympic participation guaranteed by putting it in the next CBA, which several players told me they expect to be a topic when negotations begins. He sees the benefits that putting the game on that stage can have, and while he won’t completely ignore the 2018 tournament in PyeongChang, don’t expect him to carve out time in his busy schedule for a game.

“Am I going to watch the hockey? I’ll probably see the highlights,” he told McKeon. “I won’t sit down and watch it.”

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Industry insider: “We will not play next year”

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The NHL’s first offer in its negotiations with the NHLPA was seen by many as a shot across the union’s bow. And with the league reportedly asking for a considerably larger split in hockey-related revenue from the players, the elimination of signing bonuses, as well as a salary rollback, predictions of a work stoppage are growing in number.

In fact, one source with knowledge of the players’ side of the negotiation is predicting not just a work stoppage, but an entire lost season.

“Last time around, the NHL made its salary cap proposal and barely moved off it,” the source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told PHT. “This is not an initial proposal. The league is shutting down and it’s ‘come back when you’re ready to accept.’

“This is exactly what happened last time. You heard it here first, we will not play next year.”

Granted, that’s just one opinion.

For most, it remains hard to imagine another lost season after the entire 2004-05 schedule was wiped out due to a lockout. Could the league and union really let it happen again?

It’s also still very early in the negotiations. The current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until Sept. 15, and we’re only in July.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to comment on the above.

Brooks: Owners proposal includes salary cap rollback to $52.5 million

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All the talk of late concerning the NHL owners’ initial CBA proposal to the Players’ Union has been making people nervous that we’ll see yet another labor stoppage. Larry Brooks of the New York Post includes an added bit of information this morning that won’t likely help make anyone feel better.

Brooks shares in his Sunday column that the owners’ proposal would include a roll back of the salary cap to a level not seen since 2007-08. Brooks doesn’t pull any punches with his take on it.

The NHL’s Declaration of War presented to the Players’ Association in the guise of a first proposal on Friday would roll back the salary cap to approximately $52.5 million for 2012-13. The drop of nearly $10 million from last season would represent the lowest number since 2007-08, sources with knowledge of the league’s scheme have told Slap Shots.

With a salary cap roll back of that amount, 19 teams would have to slash salary to get under the the proposed cap if that wound up being the case. Of course, the owners’ first proposal is just that — a first proposal.

NHLPA head Donald Fehr said recently he didn’t think there would be a salary roll back in the next CBA, but this report indicates the owners want to correct the “mistakes” they made with the previous agreement.

Bruins GM Chiarelli on CBA negotiations: “I think there will be no time missed”

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With just 92 days left until the current NHL CBA expires, many are already fretting about the possibility of a work stoppage.

Peter Chiarelli is not one of those people.

The Bruins GM spoke with CSNNE.com today and seemed optimistic that negotiations would allow for the 2012-13 season to start on time.

“Maybe I’m an eternal optimist on this stuff, but I think there will be no time missed,” said Chiarelli. “I hope we’ve learned from our last go-round. We always try to improve it, but I think the [NHL] product is pretty good.”

Unlike most, Chiarelli sees the presence of NHLPA head honcho Donal Fehr as a good thing. While many look back at Fehr’s history with dread — most notably his time with Major League Baseball players association — Chiarelli sees his experience as a positive factor.

“I don’t know Fehr aside from what I’ve seen of him in the past, but I think he’s a deal-maker,” said Chiarelli. “I know he does his job. I hope the two sides get together soon, but I’m an optimist.”

Video: Will GMs “be stuck in spending limbo” this summer?

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The salary cap will probably increase this summer, but that might change when the NHL and NHLPA agree on a new CBA. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants GMs to take a “business as usual” approach until the league has a new CBA, but will they?

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It’s worth noting that several teams have already locked up some of their unrestricted free agents to big extensions over the past couple of months. Ales Hemsky, Tuomo Ruutu, and Mikhail Grabovski have all signed extensions that will reportedly come with annual cap hits in the $4.75 million to $5.5 million range, and those three players aren’t putting up star caliber numbers this season. So it’s still safe to say that GMs will spend this summer, but they might practice a little more restraint than they would have under normal circumstances.