Clowe optimistic about NHL CBA talks

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Clowe optimistic about NHL CBA talks

SAN JOSE Anyone who has read about or paid attention to the recent NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining negotiations knows theres been a dearth of optimism. The two sides remain far apart on core economic issues with just five days to go before the expiration of the current deal on September 15, and no formal meetings between the two sides are scheduled this week.

Ryane Clowe, however, offered a glimmer of hope - faint as it is - on Monday, after an informal practice at Sharks Ice that featured more than 20 NHL players and prospects.

I think when you get to these situations, people say why didnt you start negotiating sooner? But, it always seems to come down to the last minute anyway, Clowe said. Im guessing thats whats going to happen.

My feeling is that both sides want to get something done. I strongly believe that. When, and how soon? Maybe sooner rather than later, but thats just my gut feeling.

Make no mistake though, Clowe doesnt think a deal is imminent, and by no means is he declaring that he expects the season to start on time. Like every other member of the players association, the rugged Sharks forward of seven NHL seasons views the owners initial CBA proposals as unfair. The owners would like to significantly reduce what they are paying out in terms of player salaries from the 57 percent that was agreed to under the current CBA.

Increased revenue sharing from the big money makers, to the smaller clubs that struggle to generate enough money, remains a key issue for the players despite Gary Bettmans declaration that that particular issue is distracting.

We understand that if were going to give something back, we want the owners to do that also, and contribute, sad Clowe. We feel like with the proposal we made, it takes care of some of the issues as far as having a strong league in the future, and a healthy league.

Clowe doesnt foresee the players waiving that revenue sharing request, and is hopeful that the owners will reconsider their stance on the issue when they meet on Thursday.

We feel strongly about that. I dont feel like thats something thats going to change or come off the table.

The owners took some time, I think, to think about that one, and theres a Board of Governors meeting this week in New York, and I think what they discuss in there will be key for how we go ahead here.

Its believed that some of the big market clubs are, not surprisingly, reluctant to write bigger checks to some of the small market teams despite record revenues and the fact that theyve cashed in on extravagant expansion and relocation fees over the years. The league also has a new 10-year, 2 billion television contract with NBC set to begin.

The NHLPA will be holding meetings of its own in New York, and several hundred players are expected to attend. From the Sharks, Tommy Wingels, Brent Burns and Douglas Murray will be boarding a cross-country flight to sit in on the meetings led by union boss Donald Fehr. Murray, the Ivy League graduate from Cornell, has been involved in a number of sit-downs with Fehr and Bettman in recent weeks.

How do players not directly involved in the meetings stay up to date? Well, theres an app for that.

No, really.

You log in and read what went on for the day, and Fehr keeps us really informed, Logan Couture said.

Like Clowe, Couture is trying to remain optimistic as the deadline approaches. He recently returned to San Jose, as has most of the roster, in the hopes that training camp opens on time on September 21.

Were all here ready for the season to start, Couture said. Thats why you see so many guys here. We all came out early, working out together as a team and skating as a team. Were all getting ready for the season to start so well see what happens when the time comes, but right now were all getting prepared.

We all want to play the game we love. We play in the best league in the world, and we want it to start on time. Im sure all of us are optimistic, but as time gets closer and nothing happens, you can only start to get a little pessimistic.

Couture fights through illness to push Sharks over Lightning

Couture fights through illness to push Sharks over Lightning

SAN JOSE – Logan Couture didn’t skate against the Kings on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, but that sure didn’t mean he was feeling all that energetic to play against the Lightning on Thursday.

The 27-year-old center had a pretty rough start to his week. He was unable to finish Monday’s game against Winnipeg, and then couldn’t go on the quick road trip to Southern California on Tuesday, either.

We’ll let him explain.

"I wasn't feeling too well during the [Winnipeg] game, had an IV during that game, and came off. Didn't have enough energy to finish that game. Went home. Started throwing up a bunch and actually went to the hospital, got a couple more IVs. Slept that night, didn't make it through the night, threw up a couple more times. Didn't really get any sleep, so I talked to [Sharks trainer Ray Tufts] and he told me to stay home, and not come on the trip.
 
"Didn't get any food in my throat for about 48 hours. It was a tough little stretch, and finally yesterday I was able to get back to normal. I think it was just a stomach bug, but it hit pretty hard. I think I lost six pounds. So, it was a tough couple days.”

Despite all that, Couture managed to have an impact in the Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Lightning. And not just a minor impact, either, as he scored the game-winning goal early in the third period in a game in which the Sharks as a team were understandably sluggish at times but still found a way.

"I thought he was excellent. Gutsy effort by him coming back in,” said coach Pete DeBoer, who slightly limited Couture’s minutes.

The winning goal came when Couture’s linemates, Kevin Labanc and Joonas Donskoi, fought for a loose puck behind the Tampa Bay net. Labanc managed to poke it to Couture, who had pushed away from Tyler Johnson and found just enough space inside the far post with his shot to break a 1-1 tie on the opening shift of the third period.

Goalie Aaron Dell made it hold up, making some clutch third period saves on Ondrej Palat and Valtteri Filppula, in particular.

After allowing a bad goal in Calgary last week that cost the Sharks at least one point in the standings, Dell was outstanding on a night that his teammates needed him.

"I've given up a lot of goals in my life. I think it's pretty easy to let it go now, but I really wanted to come back and make a good impression after that,” he said.

Ryan Carpenter, familiar with Dell from their days on the Barracuda together last season, said: “He made some big saves tonight. That’s just what he does. Whenever he plays, he always does well somehow. It’s nice to be a part of it, and see him get that one tonight.”

Carpenter played a role, too, getting the Sharks a 1-0 lead with his second career NHL goal five minutes into the middle frame. He was the beneficiary of a long shift by the Sharks in the Tampa Bay end, firing in a Paul Martin feed off of Nikita Nesterov’s leg.

"That was just off a line change,” DeBoer said. “He got out there a little bit early and made a great play. Big goal for us."

The Sharks were in survival mode earlier in the game, one day after recording one of their more satisfying, complete wins of the season over the rival Kings. Tampa Bay recorded eight of the first nine shots on goal, and San Jose was having particular trouble moving the puck out of their own end and through the neutral zone. 

After Carpenter’s goal, and a remarkable power play score by Jonathan Drouin tied it, the message in the dressing room in the second intermission was to go out and win the third period.

"Guys did a good job in the locker room going out in the third and just understanding what’s at stake," Joe Pavelski said. "There’s two big points, it doesn’t matter your opponent that you’re playing, you’ve got to go find it."

They did, courtesy of Couture, even if his pads were a little looser than normal from his sudden and unexpected diet.

Instant Replay: Sharks sweep back-to-back with win over Lightning

Instant Replay: Sharks sweep back-to-back with win over Lightning

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – After missing his first game of the season, Logan Couture returned to the lineup to score the game-winning goal as the Sharks downed the Lightning at SAP Center, 2-1, on Thursday night.

Couture, who was too sick to play against the Kings on Wednesday, got his 15th of the season early in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Linemate Kevin Labanc fished a puck out from along the end wall, while Couture got just enough of the puck to squeeze it through Andrei Vasilevskiy just 22 seconds into the final frame.

Backup goalie Aaron Dell made 24 saves, as the scuffling Lightning were held to two or fewer goals for the seventh time in their last eight games.

In the third period, Dell stopped Ondrej Palat with about 13 minutes left, getting his right pad on the Tampa Bay forward’s attempt from between the circles. He stretched to deny Valtteri Filppula’s wraparound try with less than seven minutes to go, preserving the Sharks’ slim lead.

The Sharks improved to 5-2-0 in their last seven games, and swept the two-game season series with the Lightning. San Jose is 16-6-0 overall against teams from the Eastern Conference.

After a dull first period, the pace picked up in the second as the teams traded scores.

Ryan Carpenter put San Jose ahead at 5:01, as his slap shot from the circle directed in off of Nikita Nesterov’s leg for his second career NHL score. The rookie was recalled on Tuesday after a brief stint with the Sharks in November, and was playing in just his fifth game this season.

Tampa Bay responded with a gorgeous power play score by Jonathan Drouin less than two minutes later. The 21-year-old took the puck from the neutral zone and charged ahead, going right around a flat-footed Marc-Edouard Vlasic and slipping it past Dell at 6:51.

Along with Couture’s return, Joonas Donskoi also played after missing the previous three games with an upper body injury.

The Sharks won the only other game between the two teams on Nov. 12 in Tampa Bay, 3-1.

San Jose improved to 5-3-0 in the second of back-to-backs.

Special teams

The Sharks had just one power play midway through the third period, and did not score.

The Lightning brought the NHL’s fourth-ranked power play into the game, although they hadn’t scored in their previous three games. They finished 1-for-3.

In goal

Dell was starting for the second time in nine days, the shortest length time off he’s had between games this season. He improved to 5-2-0 in his first NHL season, and has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his seven starts.

Vasilevskiy fell to 10-11-2 on the season, allowing two Sharks goals on 24 shots.

Lineup

Rookie Timo Meier was scratched for the first time since he was recalled in mid-December, dealing with what the team called a minor upper body injury. Micheal Haley was surprisingly placed on injured reserve before the game with an lower body injury. Mikkel Boedker was benched for the third period.

Tampa Bay remains without Steven Stamkos, who has been out since mid-November with a torn miniscus, while top defenseman Victor Hedman missed his third straight due to illness.

Up next

A pair of games against the putrid Avalanche, who are buried in last place in the Central Division and are the worst team in the NHL, is up next for San Jose. Saturday marks the SAP Center return of Matt Nieto, who was claimed off of waivers from the Sharks on Jan. 5.

The Sharks visit Pepsi Center on Monday for the second of the home-and-home, are in Winnipeg on Tuesday, and play their final game before the All-Star break at home next Thursday against Edmonton.