Just because they canceled the season doesn't mean the NHL follies have come to an end. They have merely defined a new beginning to the endless negotiations to save the sport from itself. With 2004-05 now history (in proportions that will be historic for all the wrong reasons), the focus shifts to 2005-06, beginning with a series of meetings this week that are expected to re-start negotiations between owners and players. The Board of Governors and the PA both meet Tuesday, and the PA meets with player agents on Wednesday.
Pierre Lebrun of the Canadian Press has a good synopsis of where we are now, heading into these meetings. The NHL's rhetoric has changed since last we heard from the two sides -- gone is talk of reducing losses by not playing at all, replaced by exhortations to the players to help maximize revenue for next season by giving in now. The players have said little, but what little they've said indicates that they're not about to give up the leverage they have now that the spectre of losing this season is no longer being held over their heads.
But this doesn't mean things will go smoothly on the players' side. Mark Everson of the Post previews the three days of PA meetings by recapping the various bones of contention that have splintered the union. PA solidarity, or lack thereof, may ultimately dictate how the next round of negotiations unfolds.
Marcus Jonasen had a goal and an assist and was +3 as his line led Tri-Cities in coming back from a 3-0 deficit to tie Everett 3-3. Ivan Baranka at -1 was not the major culprit on defense during Everett's collapse. Jonathan Paiement had a goal and an assist and was +2 as Lewiston blanked Moncton 5-0 (Moncton remains without Bruce Graham, sidelined by a long-term injury). Jakub Petruzalek has tailed off offensively, his Ottawa 67s losing again last night. After opening some eyes with 47 points and +15 in his first 36 games, he has only 9 points and a -3 rating in his last 15. Ryan Callahan, whose Guelph Otters lost last night too, has slipped in February as well, with 8 points and -8 in nine games after notching a point per game in his first 42 (+2). Charlotte stopped the bleeding, ending a short losing streak with a 5-2 win.
Two ex-Rangers who were allowed to leave at very young ages and fulfull their potential for other teams sit side by side atop the NHLPA home page today. Doug Weight is pictured as Player of the Day, and Dan Cloutier, currently playing in Austria, is profiled. A profile of Manny Malhotra, a third ex-Ranger in the same category (though he hasn't fulfilled any potential yet), is still up there as well.