Still no deal as deadline arrives

900339.jpg

Still no deal as deadline arrives

The deadline for a full, 82-game NHL season, as put in place by the league last Tuesday, Oct. 17, has arrived.

Cue the crickets.

There are no talks scheduled for Thursday, or in the immediate future, between the NHL and its players association as the labor dispute drags on. Just as the lockout arrived on Sept. 16 with no fanfare, the latest deadline appears as if it will come and go with no formal announcement.

REWIND: Bettman says full season 'not a reality'

Unless there is a miraculous, last minute deal, games will have to be cancelled permanently and players paychecks will be gone forever. That could come as soon as tomorrow. Also on the chopping block will be the annual Winter Classic, which has become the leagues signature event, and the All-Star Game, which is scheduled to take place in January in Columbus.

Although the league would hate to lose the Winter Classic, which is still on the calendar for Jan. 1 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium, its been thought that the union could use that date as leverage in negotiations. However, the tedious planning it takes to put on the event, both in terms of logistics of setting up the rink and partnering with HBO for the successful 247 mini-series that typically begins shooting in early December, means time is short.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, appearing at a press conference announcing the New York Islanders move to Brooklyn in 2014, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it looks like a full-82 game schedule "is not going to be a reality.

The league hoped its proposal last Tuesday, which featured a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue along with various contractual restrictions, would lead to training camp opening on Oct. 26 and the season beginning on Nov. 2. The NHLPA replied two days later with three proposals of its own, offering a gradual reduction of revenue to 50-50, but none of those offers were deemed acceptable by the league.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday night, and offered up his opinion on the labor dispute when asked by a member of the audience if he could help push the process along.

Every time this happens, I just want to remind the owners and the players, you guys make money because youve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard, said the President. They buy tickets. Theyre watching on TV.

Yall should be able to figure this out. Get it done.

Thats something every hockey fan, regardless of political affiliation, can agree upon.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

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.