Marchand’s agent regarding contract negotiations: “Nothing is imminent”

Brad Marchand was one of the Bruins’ playoff heroes last season as they rode great goaltending and timely scoring all the way to the Stanley Cup. Marchand scored 21 goals and 20 assists in the regular season as one of the more surprising rookies to burst onto the scene throughout the course of the 2010-11 season. The timing couldn’t have been better for the Halifax, Nova Scotia native as it just happened to be the last year of his entry-level contract. Needless to say, he was looking at a sizeable raise from his first contract that paid him $821,667 per season (cap hit). But how big would the raise be?

Two months after Boston’s Stanley Cup parade, neither the Bruins, nor Team Marchand has any idea.

As the vast majority of free agents have signed on the dotted line (both restricted and unrestricted), Marchand and the Bruins have been unable to come to an agreement to put the 5’9” pest back in a Bruins uniform. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty tracked down Marchand’s agent, Wade Arnott, to get an update on the contract negotiations.

“Discussions with the Bruins remain open and ongoing regarding Brad, but nothing is imminent.”

(snip)

“[I’m] hopeful, but it’s no sure thing,” said Arnott, casting the slightest shed of doubt that Marchand’s signing is an automatic.

The Bruins former 3rd round pick has modest career totals: 21 goals and 21 assists in 97 career games. But during the playoffs last season, he made sure fans outside of the Boston area took note. By the time all was said and done, he was second in playoff goal scoring (11) and 6th in playoff points with 19. It all adds up to a significant raise.

Haggerty continues with his projections on what Marchand’s next contract could look like:

“Indications are that the Bruins are looking to sign Marchand for a two-year deal in the $2.5 million per season neighborhood that would keep the B’s rabble-rouser a restricted free agent under Boston’s control at the end of his next deal.

Restricted free agent Teddy Purcell busted out for 51 points during the regular season and 17 points in the playoffs, and resigned with the Lightning for two years and $4.72 million, which amounts to $2.36 million per season. That’s the closest comparable contract for Marchand given his age, accomplishments and classification as a free agent.

But it also makes perfect sense that Marchand and Co. are pushing for something in the four-year, $12 million range, and a contract that would set him up for unrestricted free agency once his deal has expired.”

Obviously, the Bruins will weigh both term and dollars when negotiating Marchand’s next contract. One of the difficult facets of the negotiation process is the Bruins only have one full season to measure their player—yet must make a longer-term commitment based on the single season. Is he the player who only scored a single point in his first stint with the Bruins in 2009-10? Is the player who scored 41 points in 77 games throughout the 2010-11? Or is he the player who had 11 goals in the playoffs and was one of the offensive leaders for the Stanley Cup champions.

All examples fetch far different contracts on the open market. It’s safe to assume that Marchand will want to be paid like the playoff hero that he was in May and June. Then again, it’s easy to see why the Bruins may be hesitant to offer a long-term contract based on an impressive 25-game stretch—albeit the most important 25-game stretch for Boston hockey in four decades.

Judging by Arnott’s comments, the two sides still have plenty of work to do before the see eye-to-eye on Marchand’s worth.

NY governor says pro teams can resume training

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months.

”Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference Sunday.

The New York City area was one of the hardest-hit parts of the U.S. by the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 deaths and new infections in the state have been trending downward.

Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL are discussing the resumption of their seasons with their players’ unions.

”I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena – do it! Do it!” Cuomo said. ”Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”

WCHA’s Alabama-Huntsville cuts hockey program

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Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials said athletes in those sports who want to join another team’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. If they choose to stay, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of their academic careers.

Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.

Men’s hockey had been the lone Division I sport for Alabama-Huntsville. It competes at the Division II level in all other sports.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

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Canada’s NHL teams have offered season-ticket holders rebate or refund options in acknowledgment that no more 2019-20 regular-season games will be played in front of fans in their respective buildings.

In a four-day span May 13-16, all seven teams contacted their season-ticket bases with options and, in some cases, deadlines to make a decision, according to The Canadian Press.

“It has become increasingly apparent, that any possibility will not include any further games being played this season in front of fans at Bell MTS Place,” the Winnipeg Jets said in an email.

That admission may seem anticlimactic given leagues and teams around the world are either playing in empty stadiums, or trying to figure out a way to just resume play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But season-ticket money is a key element of NHL business. Clubs are loathe to part with it.

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money.

Toronto Maple Leafs season-ticket holders had to declare they wanted their money back by Victoria Day or a credit would be applied to their accounts.

Their Montreal Canadiens counterparts had to make a decision by Friday, while the Vancouver Canucks’ deadline is June 3.

NHLPA board approves 24-team, return-to play-format

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We have our first step towards resuming the 2019-20 season with the approval of the return-to-play format by the NHLPA Executive Board.

The 31 NHL team representatives voted and a majority gave the thumbs up to the 24-team, conference-based proposal.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the vote was 29-2 in favor.

Now the plan moves on to the Board of Governors for their approval.

From the NHLPA:

The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.

If the BOG green lights it, the next steps would include figuring out proper safety protocols for all involved and how the hub city plan would work, among numerous other details.

Based on points percentage at the time of the March 12 NHL pause, the top four teams in each conference (Boston, Tampa, Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas, Dallas) will receive a first-round bye. Round 1 will feature eight play-in matchups in a best-of-five series.

As the play-in round takes place, the eight conference leaders could potentially take part in a mini tournament that will determine the seeding for Round 2. Reseeding after the play-in round is another topic likely to be discussed.

Here’s what it might end up looking like:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND 1 BYES
• Bruins
• Lightning
• Capitals
• Flyers

PLAY-IN ROUND
(5) Penguins
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 4 seed
(12) Canadiens

(6) Hurricanes
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 3 seed
(11) Rangers

(7) Islanders
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 2 seed
(10) Panthers

(8) Maple Leafs
vs.                              — Winner plays No. 1 seed
(9) Blue Jackets

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ROUND 1 BYES
• Blues
• Avalanche
• Golden Knights
• Stars

PLAY-IN ROUND
(5) Oilers
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 4 seed
(12) Blackhawks

(6) Predators
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 3 seed
(11) Coyotes

(7) Canucks
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 2 seed
(10) Wild

(8) Flames
vs.                                — Winner plays No. 1 seed
(9) Jets

Games would be played without fans with teams based in hub cities potentially located in both the U.S. and Canada. Columbus, Las Vegas, and Edmonton are a few of the cities that have shown interested in playing host to playoff games.

Since the 24-team format entered the rumor mill, it’s received a mixed reaction from players.

“Twenty-four teams sounds like a lot of teams to me,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson told Mike Tirico on Thursday. “You have to make sure there is some level playing field in terms of intensity…So while 24 teams sounds like a lot, maybe due to logistics, that makes the most sense.”

“I will say that when it comes to the format I think it is almost impossible to make everyone happy … the situation is what it is,” Lars Eller of the Capitals said via the Washington Post. “It is far from perfect. We are going to manage the best we can and I do think we will come together and find a solution regarding that. It is not going to be easy.”

Kris Letang told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that Penguins players voted “yes” on the proposal citing “greater good for everyone.”

“At the end of the day, nobody gets exactly what they want,” Letang said. “But, we all want what is best for hockey and to continue to grow the game.”

MORE:
Predators’ Duchene: ‘You don’t want to have a COVID Cup’
Our Line Starts podcast: Evaluating fairness of 24-team NHL playoff

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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.