NHL, players search for common ground


NHL, players search for common ground

The NHLPA on Wednesday is expected to respond the leagues latest proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, as the two sides work to try to avoid a lockout on Sept. 15.

Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray has been a part of the contingent of players involved in the meetings at the NHL offices in New York City in each of the last two days.

On Tuesday, the league offered up the latest version of its plan to reduce the players percentage of hockey related revenue, and Gary Bettman told reporters that it had significant and had meaningful movement. Reports surfaced that the NHL plans to reduce the players share of revenue gradually over the next several years, eventually getting it to a 50-50 split.

The salary cap for the 2012-13 season, under the owners latest plan, would be around 58 million. That would complicate matters for a number of NHL clubs that are already over that mark, including San Jose, which has 21 players signed to more than 65 million, according to the latest numbers at CapGeek.com.

We should know later on Wednesday or at some point this week how the players view the latest proposal or if it can lead to more meaningful dialogue and common ground.

It is at least somewhat encouraging that the two sides remain at the table and have yet to lash out at one another through the media. While its clear that there is disagreement, and time is running short to begin training camp on time, its a far cry from eight years ago when the two sides were firmly entrenched in their positions and a complete lost season was the eventual result.

At the same time, there is a significant difference in the way each side wants to distribute revenue, specifically the weaker clubs that struggle at the gate. The players would like to see increased revenue sharing from the big market clubs like Toronto, New York Rangers, Vancouver and Philadelphia while the league favors those funds coming from reduced player salaries.

Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly are the leagues chief negotiators, while NHLPA head Donald Fehr and his brother, Steve, were joined by NHL players Craig Adams, Nick Bonino, B.J. Crombeen, Alex Goligoski, Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek, George Parros, Chris Phillips, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kevin Westgarth and Murray.

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.