Second Meeting Ends with No Deal

The second day of meetings between smaller groups from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association ended without a new collective bargaining agreement. No firther meetings are scheduled but both sides confirmed their intention to meet again.

There was some good dialogue,” said Ted Saskin, NHLPA senior director. “We clearly have some serious differences of opinion but we continue to try and find ways to bridge the gap.”

“We’ve had two good days of communication,” NHL executive vice president Bill Daly told reporters. “But we still have very strong philosophical differences.”

The meetings began on Wednesday as an eleventh-hour effort by NHLPA president Trevor Linden to save the season. Linden invited Daly, Calgary Flames’ part-owner Harley Hotchkiss and NHL outside counsel Bob Batterman to meet with himself, Saskin and Players’ Association outside counsel John McCambridge.

Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow were left uninvited.

“I give Trevor Linden a lot of credit for bringing us together again,” Daly stated, also calling the meetings “the best dynamic to date in this process.”

Neither side will confirm exactly what was discussed over the last two days.

“We just continue to work very hard at trying to satisfy both parties,” said Daly.

Saskin confirmed that a salary cap, what the owners refer to as “cost-certainty,” is still an issue.

The second meeting came amid a flurry of rumors. Earlier in the day, the Phoenix Coyotes and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were reported to have begun the process of setting up a training camp, ordering equipment and contacting personnel. Both teams denied those reports.

“There’s no substance to that whatsoever,” said Ducks head coach Mike Babcock. “That’s not true at all.”

“That’s completely erroneous,” Phoenix general manager Mike Barnett said. “I have not spoken to any members of our roster in two months. I don’t even know where one-third of our roster is. Some of them are spread all over the globe. No one in our management group has contacted our players since November.”

Hotchkiss was not present at Thursday’s meeting after attending Wednesday’s session, as he had returned to Calgary for the funeral of J.R. (Bud) McCaig, a part-owner of the Flames who died on Tuesday.

The two sides have agreed to continue meeting, however the timing for that is unknown. “We don’t have anything scheduled,” said Daly.

Saskin simply stated, “the lines of communication remain open.”

Wings Overcome Ducks and Media Circus for Decisive Win

The media hype was tremendous. Sergei Fedorov returns to Detroit! Red Wings to face the team who shut them out in the playoffs! The Red Wings are used to media scrutiny, here in the heart of Hockeytown, and they put it all aside to play a solid game and beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 7-2.

Manny Legace was solid in his fourth start in a row, and saved a potentially game-breaking goal early in the first period when Petr Sykora got in all alone on a breakaway. Legace’s save led right into Detroit’s first goal. The Red Wings got the puck back down the ice, but the Ducks tried to clear it out of their zone. Kris Draper stole it away from Niclas Havelid. He handed the puck off to Kirk Maltby, who centered the puck for Mark Mowers to chip into the net.

Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff in the Anaheim zone late in the period, thus setting up Brett Hull to wind up and blast the puck right past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Then the scoring floodgates opened.

Maltby and Jason Williams scored within 50 seconds of each other midway through the second period, both with hard wrist shots which sailed over Giguere’s glove hand. Four goals was enough for Giguere, who reluctantly left the net to be replaced by Martin Gerber.

Gerber didn’t fare any better than did his counterpart. Detroit kept pressing their advantage. “They just got better and better and faster and faster and we got slower and slower,” said Ducks coach Mike Babcock.

Detroit’s speed led to their fifth goal. Steve Thomas held the puck in at the blue line. He passed it to Hull on the left wing side, who passed it to Schneider on the right side of the crease. Schneider lured Gerber over, then made a fast pass to Datsyuk, who had a wide open net into which he shot the puck.

Fedorov finally got Anaheim onto the scoreboard with 4:40 left in the second. He carried into the zone, then took a hard shot which beat Legace high on the stick side. However, Datsyuk answered with hardly a minute gone by. He beat Fedorov in a faceoff, drew the puck back to Schneider, then deflected Schneider’s shot down to slide beneath Gerber’s glove.

Brendan Shanahan beat Ruslan Salei to what should have been an icing call against Detroit””Salei went right past the puck without touching it””and Shanahan slapped the puck past Gerber to cap off Detroit’s scoring 1:53 into the third period. Tony Martensson scored his first goal for Anaheim at 8:53, leaving the final score at 7 to 2.

The Red Wings outshot the Mighty Ducks by a count of 40 to 23. The Wings won 35 of the 60 faceoffs.

In the end, the game wasn’t about avenging Detroit’s loss to Anaheim in last year’s playoffs. Nor was it about Fedorov’s much-ballyhooed first game against his old teammates. In the end, this game was about the present, with veterans Hull and Maltby playing strongly, and the future, with young stars-to-be Datsyuk, Williams, and Mowers running up the score. Sure, it was satisfying to see Detroit repeatedly beat Giguere, their bane of last spring, and finally chase him from the net. On some slightly shame-faced level, it was even satisfying to hear the fans booing Fedorov every time he got near the puck. But in the end, it was simply two points well-earned, a fine display of offensive talent, and a tide of momentum to carry Detroit into St. Louis to face the Blues tomorrow night.