NHL labor talks end; no plans to meet again

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NHL labor talks end; no plans to meet again

It appears that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr will get to fire up their barbecues this Labor Day Weekend, after all.

On Friday in New York, talks between the two sides regarding a new collective bargaining agreement broke down with no immediate plans to meet again. They are not much closer to a resolution now than they were when meetings first began earlier this month.

The current CBA expires on September 15, and if there is no agreement by then, the owners will lock out the players.

The NHLPA presented a counter-offer to the league on Friday afternoon, in response to the leagues proposal earlier this week. Fehr said that the offer did not bear fruit with the NHL, before adding there were no further meetings scheduled at this time.

The NHL would like to reduce its financial burden when it comes to player salaries, while the NHLPA would like to see increased revenue sharing from the leagues most profitable teams. Currently, players take home 57 percent of hockey related revenue, but the NHLs latest proposal sees the players share max out at 50 percent with a gradual increase over the life of the six-year deal.

The two sides, however, have yet to even agree on what constitutes hockey related revenue, as the league wants it to include other expenses that arent currently taken into consideration under the current agreement. The NHLPA unsurprisingly disagrees, and wants to leave the definition as is.

Rhetoric between the two sides also amped up on Friday, as Fehr said that it was the NHL that put a stop to the negotiations. Bettman replied later that it was the NHLPA that stonewalled the league.

Bettman also said that it would be harder to make a deal once the CBA expires, in a veiled threat to the union to lower its demands over the next two weeks.

I wish I had better news, said Bettman.

Hockey fans hoping for a full season surely agree.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Their futures with the Sharks more uncertain than ever, pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are now free to take calls from other teams to gauge their potential interest.

Nothing can be signed with a new team before July 1, and there is a ban on discussing terms of any potential deal. Teams have already reached out to Marleau, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, while Thornton is also reportedly receiving interest around the league.

While they could still return to the Sharks, it’s new territory for both, as neither Thornton nor Marleau has ever tested the unrestricted free agent waters. Most recently, they agreed to three-year contract extensions with the Sharks on the same day – Jan. 24, 2014 – in what was the final year of their current deals.

Whether they return to the Sharks could depend on the length of the deal. If other teams are willing to offer multiple-year deals to Thornton and Marleau, it makes their return to the Sharks less likely – particularly in Marleau’s case. Earlier in the offseason, NBC Sports California confirmed that Thornton was seeking a three-year deal, while Marleau preferred a deal of at least three years.

General manager Doug Wilson’s top priority this offseason is to re-sign goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long term extensions. Those contracts would likely cost the team a combined $12-14 million, and would begin in the 2018-19 season.

There is an added risk to any team that signs a player over the age of 35, as it would be on the hook for the entire salary cap hit regardless of whether that player is active (unless that player is on long-term injured reserve). 

Thornton turns 38 on Sunday, while Marleau turns 38 on Sep. 15.