Locked-out Wings Help Honor Larionov

When former Red Wing Igor Larionov retired from the NHL last spring, he knew he had one game left in him. For a year, Larionov had been planning one final game in Moscow, where is Russian fans could see him skate for the last time.

With the NHL locked out and games put on hold, many of Larionov’s former teammates were able to make the trip to Russia with him, to honor the player who last year was the oldest in the NHL.

Larionov assembled a team of Russian All-Stars to take on a team representing the rest of the world, comprised mostly of his former teammates. Retired Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman returned to the bench along side former associate coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith to lead the world team while Larionov’s former linemates from the Soviet Red Army team, Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, coached the Russian team.

New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur, Patrick Elias, Scott Gomez and Jay Pandolfo joined Red Wings Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Dandenault, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Ray Whitney and Henrik Zetterberg on the World team. Former Red Wings Steve Duchesne, Martin Lapointe, Chris Osgood and Luc Robitaille also played.

The Russian squad was made up of Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Gonchar, Valeri Kamensky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Larionov, Danny Markov, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Samsonov and Oleg Tverdovsky.

The World team, most of whom hadn’t played competitively since last season, got off to a slow start and Brodeur allowed early goals to Nikolishin and Samsonov. McCarty responded later in the period and the Russians had a 2-1 lead after one period.

Osgood replaced Brodeur between the pipes for the second period but couldn’t stop Larionov from scoring on a quick shot from the slot, as Larionov capped his career with a goal in his final game in front of his home crowd.

For the third period, Larionov and Yzerman switched teams, complete with Yzerman donning a Russian jersey with his name in Cyrillic on the back. Yzerman, possibly playing in his final game as well, scored twice for the Russians as they held off the World team for a 6-5 win.

Report: NHL to Reject Players’ Offer

TSN.ca reports that the National Hockey League will officially reject last week’s NHL Players’ Association proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement. TSN received a copy of a confidential eight-page report sent from the league to the member teams that outlines the league’s response to the offer.

“In sum, we believe the Union’s December 9 CBA proposal, while offering necessary and significant short-term financial relief, falls well short of providing the fundamental systemic changes that are required to ensure that overall League economics remain in synch on a going-forward basis,” said NHL chief negotiator Bill Daly in the memo.

The NHLPA’s offer included a 24% salary rollback on all current player contracts. A tiered luxury tax beginning at $45 million was also a major part of the offer.

Before their official response, league executives had proclaimed the offer to be short-sighted, without the league’s long-term goals in mind.

NHL comissioner Gary Bettman has spent the 89 days of the lockout campaigning for a salary cap, what the league refers to as “cost certainty.”

The league’s official response to the players’ proposal also alleges that “the Union’s offer was more about trying to unify the players and ensure player solidarity with what they would perceive as a very substantial proposal than it was about making a good faith effort to reach agreement us…”

The NHL and the NHLPA will meet in Toronto on Tuesday, when the league will officially deliver their response to the Players’ Association.

Players’ Association Offers 24% Salary Reduction

The National Hockey League Players’ Assocation met with the NHL on Thursday to present an offer with what they deemed to be “significant, significant changes” – the first offer for a new collective bargaining agreement from either side since the league’s lockout of the players began almost three months ago.

The players were expected to offer a 10% salary reduction and a luxury tax of 75% for every dollar above $40 million. They surprised hockey experts everywhere by offering a luxury tax of 20% on every dollar above $45 million and a staggering 24% salary cut.

The tax rises to 50 cents on the dollar over $50 million and 60 cents on the dollar over $60 million. Also included in the offer were a revamped arbitration system and lower entry-level contracts.

The NHLPA says that their proposal would save the owners’ – who claim to have lost $300 million last season – up to $600 million in salaries.

Despite the immediate savings to the owners, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman continued to state his opinion that the league needs a salary cap. His only concession to the players was that “they showed a recognition of the economic problems that the game is facing.”

The league and the union will meet again next Tuesday, when the NHL is expected to offer a counter-proposal.

Wings Skate for Charity at Yost

Thursday night should have been time off for the Detroit Red Wings, a day to rest one day after hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets and one day before the Chicago Blackhawks came to town. Since the NHL lockout began on September 16, most of the team has done nothing but rest, so a night off wasn’t needed.

On a night that should have been between games where the Red Wings would see 20,000 fans cheering them on, a handful of current and former Detroit players played in front of 7,000 fans at the University of Michigan’s Yost Arena in a charity game to benefit Mott Children’s Hospital, as part of an all-pro team facing off against the U.S. under-18 national team.

Current Wings Manny Legace, Derian Hatcher, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper and Steve Yzerman were all present. Former Wings Doug Brown, Steve Duchesne, Aaron Ward, Kevin Miller and Sergei Fedorov were there.
Former Wolverines David Roberts, Chris Tamer, Bill Muckalt and David Harlock, former Michigan State University Spartans Bryan Smolinski and Kip Miller, former Detroit Viper Sergei Samsonov, and former Detroit Jr. Red Wing and Michigan K-Wing Jeff Mitchell rounded out the pro roster.

Detroit native Kid Rock dropped the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff and acted as coach for the pro team, flanked by celebrity assistants Bobby Higginson and Tera Reid.

The pros didn’t beat up the teenagers too badly, taking only a 1-0 lead after the end of one period and finishing the game up 6-2. Chelios, the Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, played most of the game as a forward, cherry-picking at Team USA’s blue line.

Ward opened the game’s scoring and goals by Draper and Fedorov followed in the second period. Draper scored again before Team USA got a goal when Phil Kessel crached the net to finish the second period scoring. Draper finished his hat trick early in the third. Andreas Vlassopoulos scored Team USA’s second goal before Kip Miller closed out the scoring, putting in the rebound from a Doug Brown shot that bounced off the glass behind the goal and came back out in front.

The game could have been overshadowed by the announcement earlier in the day that the NHL and NHLPA would meet for the first time since the lockout began, but it wasn’t. For one night it wasn’t about the lockout, it was about a packed arena where seasoned veterans took on teenagers to benefit charity.

The PA announcer mocked the players. Chelios put fake hits on a linesman. It wasn’t the NHL, but it wasn’t supposed to be.

Players’ Association Invites NHL to Meet

The National Hockey League Players’ Association confirmed today that they are officially inviting the NHL back to the bargaining table. NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow sent a letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman inviting the league’s negotiating committee to Toronto next week for a meeting with the NHLPA Executive Committee and senior NHLPA officials.

The two sides have not met since September 9, one week before the lockout began.

The letter also confirmed that the Players’ Association is working on a new proposal to the league, something that has been rumored to be in the works for the past week. The NHLPA believes that what they are working on “should provide the basis for a new collective bargaining agreement and thus end the owners’ lockout.”

“Almost three months have passed since the players made their last proposal and we have yet to receive a counter-offer from the league. We have been working hard at other creative solutions and believe our new proposal will provide a basis to end the owners’ lockout and resume NHL hockey,” Bob Goodenow, NHLPA executive director.