Boyle: Both sides holding up CBA progress


Boyle: Both sides holding up CBA progress

SAN JOSE Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle has been one of the more vocal and outspoken NHL players when it comes to the current labor battle between the league and its players association. Already one of the more open and honest voices in the Sharks locker room when actual hockey is taking place, the 36-year-old couldnt hide his disappointment on Thursday that the two sides have yet to make an agreement.

Maybe it was the fact that hes battling a cold and not feeling 100 percent. More likely, its because he knows hes at the tail end of a fabulous career, and desperately longs to compete for his second career Stanley Cup on what is still a very solid team.

It sucks. Even though I went through it once it doesnt make it easier, said a glum Boyle, referring to the 2004-05 lost season. If anything, its just more frustrating to lose possibly a second year of my career. Careers are so short to begin with, to just have that taken away is pretty frustrating.

There was hope last week that the two sides would be able to forge an agreement and save a full season, after the league submitted an offer on Oct. 17 that included an immediate 50-50 revenue split. The players, still concerned that current contracts would be affected and rolled back in some form, responded with three proposals of their own that Gary Bettman and the owners shot down in a matter of minutes.

RELATED: Deadline arrives, no deal Bettman: Full season 'not a reality'

That the league didnt even really consider what the NHLPA put on the table irked a number of players, including Boyle.

Sleep on it, look it over, discuss among the other 29 owners and then come back with a no, if thats the case, Boyle said.

Somewhat surprisingly, Boyle didnt admonish his own side from helping to contribute to the stalemate.

Its supposed to be a negotiation, and I think right now both sides kind of think its their way or the highway. I think youre got to give to get, and I dont know that were at that point yet, he said.

Patrick Marleau seemed especially annoyed with the leagues tactics.

The owners proposal started talks, and then they kind of shut them down as soon as we started talking," Marleau said. "They wanted 50-50, we got to 50-50, and they took 10 minutes to disregard three proposals where we actually took their offer and took some time to dissect it.

They come out and they say they want whats best for hockey, but then their actions dont back that up. Its kind of happened throughout the whole negotiations, so at this point we dont expect anything less, I guess, out of them.

Should there be no progress over the next couple of days, it's not hard to predict the immediate future. It was widely reported that the league has since taken its last proposal off of the table, now that its Oct. 25 deadline to get in a full, 82-game season beginning on Nov. 2 will quietly pass. The fear now is that the league will soon cancel another months worth of games, never to be made up, as well as the Winter Classic and All-Star Game.

When the two sides actually sit down at the negotiating table again is anyones guess, and either could retreat into the shadows.

I think thats what they want, and thats what they plan on, Marleau said. They are obviously going by a playbook that they have, otherwise wed be playing. They say they want one thing, then we come to common ground, and then they want something else. I think they are working off of some timetable that they have.

Boyle agreed, and has said in the past that he believes the leagues hard-line owners want the players to miss some paychecks. Thats all but a certainty now.

It seems that way. Again, Im not in their locker room, but it seems like theres a script there, he said. I told you months ago that I didnt think anything was going to get done until we started losing some checks. How many, is the question. I dont know. It seems like they are following some sort of guidelines, or whatever, but Im not in their heads, either. Im just speculating.

If they cared about the game, we would be playing, basically, Marleau said of the hard-line owners.

The obvious objective of having the players miss out on a few paydays is the hope that the union will begin to fracture, and internal dissent will lead to more concessions for the league when a deal is finally signed.

Boyle hasnt sensed any discord amongst the union, though.

Thats the thing is, I dont really hear that, he said. Theres escrow money coming back from last year. Obviously, everyone would like to be making money, but I just dont hear about guys whining about it, really.

Marleau said: Theres no fear of that happening.

And so, the wait continues still with no end in sight.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

* * *

DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

* * *

The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”