NHL labor talks to resume Wednesday morning

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NHL labor talks to resume Wednesday morning

NEW YORK (AP) This time, NHL owners and players are staying apart for just one day.Negotiations aimed at ended the league's lockout will resume Wednesday morning at the NHL office, the players' association said in a statement Tuesday. Before Monday night's 90-minute bargaining session, it had been eight days since the sides got together.Whether the players' association will bring a new complete proposal, as requested by the NHL on Monday, to the next round of talks remained uncertain. But the union huddled for internal conversations after negotiations ended, and continued talking on Tuesday - pushing further bargaining back a day."It looks like tomorrow," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday. "No other details at this point."The lockout entered its 66th day Tuesday and already has wiped out 327 games. More cancellations could be coming soon without a new deal.While neither side offered much insight following Monday night's talks, there didn't seem to be any of the anger that reportedly existed when the previous negotiations ended a week earlier. Both sides looked forward to when they would reconvene to try to reach the elusive deal that would end the lockout that has already shortened the season and threatens scrap it completely."We talked about various things," union executive director Donald Fehr said Monday. "No new proposals were made, they were not expected to be made. We had hoped to engage them in a discussion about the player-contracting issues that are so important to the players. At least (Monday) they were unwilling to do that."The prevailing question is when will one side say something the other really wants to hear. These negotiations have been going for a while, yet there hasn't been any kind of breakthrough to pave the way to a new collective bargaining agreement.Both sides know the lockout has inflicted a lot of damage on the sport that produced record revenues of over 3 billion last season. Every day of lost time is hurting everyone, and at some point owners and players will have to decide how much of the losses each side will have to absorb."I think every week is important in the process," Daly said Monday. "I don't attach a particular significance to this week over last week or next week. I want to play tomorrow."The league contends it is waiting for the players to present a full proposal on all the major issues - including core economics and player contracting, which deals with the entry-level system, arbitration and free agency. After the request was made, the players' association asked for a break and the meeting adjourned soon after."We've never heard a full proposal from them," Daly said. "They have given us a variation of the same proposal on economics a couple of times and there was no change in that position. They are still suggesting that they are moving in our direction on economics, but until we know exactly what their position is on economics now, we think it's all tied together and would like to hear it all together."Union representatives, along with 18 players who were in attendance, returned to the players' association office to have discussions among themselves. It is unclear if talks will continue through the Thanksgiving holiday if progress is made on Wednesday.The players tried to put the focus on player-contract issues on Monday night before returning to specific revenue and economic areas, but the NHL wasn't interested in that because the league considers everything to be intertwined.Neither side wants to agree to anything, or make concessions in one single area, without knowing how those will affect other parts of the CBA that still need to be negotiated."Our position all along has been on the player contracting issues that they become considerably more important to players as the cap becomes limited," Fehr said.After turning down a suggestion from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to take a two-week break from negotiations, the union requested another meeting with the league. That produced Monday's get-together."We could've taken a couple of weeks off, I suppose," Fehr said. "It's hard for me to see how you make an agreement if you aren't talking, so you talk. Sometimes it doesn't lead anywhere, and perhaps very often it doesn't lead anywhere, but if you aren't talking it's 100 percent sure it doesn't lead anywhere."They were willing to have the meeting if we said we wanted to meet. That is about as far as I can go."Daly said the NHL is always willing to listen if the players have something meaningful to say."We're never going to shut down the process," he said. "If they think there is a reason to meet and we can make progress, we're happy to meet. That's what we told them and that's what led to today's meeting."It was the first bargaining session since Nov. 11, when a busy week of negotiating wrapped up without results. All games through Nov. 30 and the New Year's Day Winter Classic have been called off. More games - including the All-Star game in Columbus, Ohio - could soon be axed, too.One area in which the NHL hasn't budged is in the area of guaranteed money to players. The league wants a percentage split of actual hockey-related revenue instead of a promised dollar amount to players based on projections of how the game will grow."If their proposal continues to be a guaranteed amount of player-share dollars, we have told them that that is not a proposal that is acceptable to us or would ever to be acceptable to our owners right now," Daly said. "If that continues to be where we are, we are a long way apart."

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks jumped out to a first period lead and were never in any real danger after that in a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday. Three takeaways from the victory over their biggest rival…

1 – Having the Kings’ number

The circumstances were all in the Kings’ favor – they were more rested, one of the best NHL teams at home this season, and entered on a five-game winning streak – but the Sharks managed to beat them fairly handily, even if the game was probably a little closer than the 4-1 final would indicate.

Including the 2016 playoffs, the Sharks have won their last six games at Staples Center. What’s the secret to that success?

“I don’t know if there’s a secret,” Pete DeBoer said. “The one thing about any time we play L.A. is there is no speeches needed. We know it’s going to be a hard game, we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. Our guys have been responding to that challenge. [Martin Jones] has been excellent, too. That’s a big part of it.”

2 – Jones no worse for wear

The Sharks goalie was starting on back-to-back days for the first time this season, and continued his recent run of success. He’ll likely play on Friday against the Canadiens before he and his Sharks teammates get a rare weekend off with no games or practices scheduled.

“I felt fine,” Jones said after the game. “I thought the guys did a really good job keeping it simple tonight. We got pucks deep, and we worked them low.”

Jones and the Sharks’ defenders have been outstanding during their 5-1-0 stretch, allowing just eight goals in their last six games. The Sharks goalie got a major assist in the second period from Brent Burns, who dove into the goal crease to keep Trevor Lewis from cutting the lead to 3-2 when Lewis had Jones beat.

“It was a great play by Lewis and a great play by Burnzie to keep it out there,” Jones said.

DeBoer said: “Burnzie has been playing great. I thought he was very good tonight. … I thought [Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun] shutting down [Jeff] Carter, and Burnzie and [Paul Martin] – I thought our whole defense corps really played well.”

3 – Carpenter showing he belongs

It was another strong outing from 25-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who scored his first NHL goal, had two shots, three hits, and was 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle in 11:38 of ice time.

DeBoer said the Sharks’ fourth line, primarily with Carpenter centering Micheal Haley and either Melker Karlsson or Kevin Labanc, “might have been our best line tonight. They were excellent.”

Carpenter is making the most if his chance to show he’s a full time NHL player.

“Try to take just a simple approach, one day at a time,” he said. “The Sharks are so deep, they’ve got so many established, proven forwards, that any chance you’re in the lineup you’ve got to take advantage of it. Trying to do that. Any time Pete puts me in, I’m going to go all out.”

Rewind: Sharks 'finding their stride' in latest win over L.A.

Rewind: Sharks 'finding their stride' in latest win over L.A.

LOS ANGELES – Not only was Los Angeles the much more rested team headed into Wednesday’s game with the Sharks, having not played in four days while San Jose was on a back-to-back, the Kings were also the hottest team in hockey. They brought a five-game winning streak into the meeting with their biggest rival, the longest active streak in the league.

There were no illusions on the San Jose side that this was going to be a tough one. 

The Sharks, though, have been playing pretty well lately, too. After a 4-1 win, now they can perhaps lay claim to being the hottest in the league, having won five of their last six while opening up a three-point lead on the rest of the Pacific Division.

Three points from Logan Couture, two goals from rookie forwards and another strong outing by goalie Martin Jones against his old mates were the keys to Wednesday’s victory.

“I feel our game right now, we’re finding our stride,” said Couture, who posted two goals and one assist. “Inconsistent at the start, but I think we’re playing some of our better hockey right now.”

The Kings had the early territorial edge, even after Kevin Labanc’s second career goal on a two-on-one with Couture staked San Jose a lead at 3:32. The Sharks remained committed in their defensive end, though, keeping the Kings to the outside, and waited to pounce again.

They did, late in the first. A nice shift by the second line of Joel Ward, Joonas Donskoi and Couture was capped off by Couture’s marker at 19:05, while Mikkel Boedker nicely sprung Ryan Carpenter on a two-on-one for the rookie’s first NHL goal just 30 seconds later.

Getting goals from Labanc and Carpenter, who was filling in for an injured Chris Tierney at the time of his goal, was especially welcomed (Tierney returned to start the second).

“We needed some contributions tonight,” DeBoer said. “It’s a tough situation, back-to-back, playing last night at home, L.A. is rested. You look at their home record (9-2-0 before Wednesday). We knew this was going to be a really tough game, and we challenged the group to have contributions from everybody.”

Playing in just his fourth career game, Carpenter was overjoyed to see his shot beat Peter Budaj. He has helped to generate a goal in two of the last three games, screening Jonathan Bernier on Dylan DeMelo’s score on Saturday against Anaheim.

“You never know if you’re going to score one or not, so it’s nice to get one,” Carpenter said. “Now you don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Couture praised both rookies.

“[Labanc] has done a great job. [On his goal] I knew if he got it to him he was going to bury it, he’s got a great shot. [Carpenter] has played well. In the games that he’s played he hasn’t been rewarded on the scoresheet, so it was nice to see him [score a goal] tonight.”

Brent Burns said: “They’ve been playing great. Big, strong kids. It’s huge when they chip in. It’s a big part [of the game]. We need that.”

Although they scored three in the first period, the third period was perhaps the Sharks’ most impressive. Despite playing against Arizona the night before, they had the energy to keep the Kings from recording a single shot on goal for the first 12-plus minutes while holding a 3-1 edge. 

Couture’s empty netter from the other side of the rink was the final nail in the Kings’ coffin after Jones made some timely saves in the later minutes.

DeBoer said: “I loved our third period with the lead. I thought we really locked things down, and that’s how we want to play.”

The Sharks are no strangers to blowing leads to the Kings, of course, and Couture recalled Game 5 of last year’s first round playoff series when the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see the Kings storm back to tie it. Perhaps that prior experience brought a little extra drive and focus for those final 20 minutes.

“We’ve played these guys enough to know that they can change things pretty quickly,” Couture said.

On Wednesday, though, the Kings were never able to recover from the early deficit. The Sharks have allowed just eight goals in their last six games, and shut down a Los Angeles team that had averaged 3.40 goals-per game during their five-game winning streak.

“They still got a few looks and Jonesy was there, but I think every time we got on the ice against [Anze] Kopitar or [Jeff] Carter, it was a real commitment by all five guys on the ice to defend, and defend hard,” DeBoer said. “I thought we did a good job.”