Will NHL players accept owners' offer?


Will NHL players accept owners' offer?

Let’s start with the truth.

NHL players will not come running back from the four corners of the hockey world to accept the 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue that was proposed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday in Toronto.

That said, there is a much better chance today of the NHL salvaging a season than at any point in the past four months. Bettman’s 50-50 split across the board is far better than the 47 percent proposed by the owners on Sept. 12.

But it’s still a far cry from the 57 percent taken in by the players under the expired CBA and would require players to have significant money placed in escrow accounts.

Bettman said his proposal would not require immediate salary rollbacks. While that may be true, it likely would require players to place at least 6.5 percent of their salaries in escrow accounts, much like they have in previous years.

That is something many players, including Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, have said they would not accept. Ovechkin has nine years and $88 million remaining on his contract with the Caps and is reportedly making $6 million playing in Russia this season.

Ovechkin has repeatedly stated he would consider staying in the KHL the entire season if it meant accepting a significant paycut to play in the NHL. Other players, including former Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar, have echoed those sentiments.

So, while Tuesday’s proposal by the owners was a significant one, it only serves as a kickstart to more meaningful negotiations that are sure to heat up in the next eight to nine days.

It is important to emphasize that while Bettman called Tuesday’s proposal the NHL’s “best offer,” he did not call it the league’s “final offer.” It’s also worth noting that Don Fehr called the proposal “an excellent starting point” that he hopes will lead to more significant negotiations.

Here are a few more things to know about the league’s proposal: it is for at least six years; it carries a five-year maximum length on player contracts; it moves the age for unrestricted free agency from seven years of NHL service or 27 years of age to eight years of service or 28 years of age; and it keeps entry-level contracts at three years.

The players are likely to agree on all of those points. But their next move might be going with a less dramatic decline in revenue sharing – say beginning at 54 percent and ending at a 50-50 split in Year 5 or 6.

Oshie overcomes past postseason struggles with hat trick performance


Oshie overcomes past postseason struggles with hat trick performance

WASHINGTON D.C.--Over the summer, two NHL teams with little luck in the playoffs pulled of a blockbuster trade sending big name players across conferences in an attempt to change their postseason fortunes. The Washington Capitals sent Troy Brouwer, a prospect and a draft pick to St. Louis. What did they get in return? Someone who always seemed to disappear in the playoffs for them: T.J. Oshie.

Oshie continued rewriting his postseason reputation on Thursday with an overtime goal to complete a hat trick in the Capitals' 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"You always want to be the guy that's able to get the game winner, especially in overtime, the NHL playoffs, it's pretty cool," Oshie said.

The overtime goal marked the first playoff game-winning goal of Oshie's career. In fact, it is the first time Oshie has actually won a playoff game in which he scored, going 0-5 previously.

The final celebration, however, was a delayed one.

RELATED: Oshie: 'This is what the playoffs are all about'

Midway through the overtime period, Oshie carried the puck into the offensive zone and took it around the net looking for the wraparound. Goalie Matt Murray was there with the bad, but Oshie was able to tuck it underneath and just over the goal line...he thinks.

"I thought I saw it all t he way across - I don't know if I did or not - throw my hands up and look at the ref and he marked it a goal so that kind of assured me," Oshie said.

The Penguins weren't so sure and neither were the refs and the play was reviewed. Several overhead views showed nothing conclusive. In fact, it looked as if it was unlikely the puck completely crossed at any point. Another angle from the front, however, was able to show the puck underneath Murray's pad just past the goal line.

According to the explanation released by the NHL, "video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that T.J. Oshie's shot completely crossed the Pittsburgh goal line."

The overtime goal marked Oshie's fourth goal of the playoffs, but his impact in his first postseason with Washington has been measured by more than just points. In Game 5 against Philadelphia, Oshie dropped the gloves with Brayden Schenn just 10 seconds into the contest in response to Schenn's cross check to the back of Kuznetsov's knee in Game 4.

The Caps sorely missed a true top line right wing last season. Oshie has filled that role exceptionally well.

"I think he's a good compliment with [Nicklas Backstrom] and [Alexander Ovechkin]," Barry Trotz said.

Oshie has the skill to take advantage of the room he is granted as teams compensate for Ovechkin. That was especially evident on Oshie's second goal when three Pittsburgh players keyed on Ovechkin, leaving Oshie open in the middle to send the puck through Murray's five-hole.

Considering how seamless the transition has been for Oshie this season and into the playoffs with his new team, it begs the question, why didn't this translate to more success in St. Louis?

"Just like any player that comes into a playoff situation, some guys have instant success, some guys struggle with it," Trotz said.

Oshie's not struggling anymore.

In a game that featured superstar players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, the player who stole the show was Oshie.

Perhaps it's time to put Oshie's past postseason reputation to rest.


Oshie: 'This is what the playoffs are all about'


Oshie: 'This is what the playoffs are all about'

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

If you like hockey at breakneck speed with offensive chances galore (80 shots combined), the Capitals and Penguins provided that.

If you like hard-nosed hockey along the boards and in front of the net (72 combined hits), the Caps and Pens provided that.

If you like drama, well, there was plenty of that, too, with T.J. Oshie making Penguins rookie goaltender Matt Murray feel like a human turnstile with a wraparound goal that completed his first playoff hat trick and gave him his first-ever playoff win in a game he scores a goal.

“I’m just excited we won,” Oshie said after the Caps’ wildly entertaining 4-3 win. “It’s cool to get the hat trick and score the overtime winner, but we have team goals right now, not individual ones.”

All eight teams that won Game 1 in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs went on to win their series and the Capitals are hoping to follow suit in Round 2.

For Oshie, Thursday began with a Penguins fan placing a “Let’s Go Pens” poster in front of his door and his daughter, Lyla, giving it a healthy kick.

“I actually found that on my doorstep when I went to the rink this morning, so my wife got a little clever with it when I wasn’t around,” Oshie said of her Instagram video of Lyla’s strong right kick.

Oshie continued that sentiment well into the night, scoring a game-tying, a go-ahead and a game-winning goal all in the same evening.

Several players were asked if this is what they expected in what could easily be the most entertaining series of the 2016 playoffs.

“I don’t see why it would go any different,” said Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who stopped 42 of 45 shots to improve to 5-2 in the post-season. “They’ve had success this last little stretch, playing that way, a more speed game and we’re comfortable with that.

“We’re focused on getting the puck below their goal line and going to work and grinding them out. Hopefully in a long series it’ll work in our favor.”

Alex Ovechkin failed to score in the contest but he was a force again, recording four shots, including a breakaway backhander, and a team-high seven hits.

“It’s always fun when we win those games because to be honest with you, they’re hard games,” Ovechkin said. “You have to be fresh all the time. You have to take a little bit shorter shifts. But we did all the time.”

The only player who had little involvement in the game was Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who allowed Nick Bonino to get past him for a goal by Ben Lovejoy 10:40 into the second period and saw just one shift after that.

The two teams will practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Friday before going back at it in Game 2 on Saturday night.

Oshie can’t wait.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “The momentum shifts, the big hits, the goals, overtime, the big saves. This is what the playoffs are all about.”

Will Wilson pay for check on Sheary?


Will Wilson pay for check on Sheary?

Tom Wilson was a hitting machine in the Capitals’ thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night, but did he cross the line in the third period?

Wilson delivered six of the Capitals’ 43 hits in the series opener between the bitter rivals, but his unpenalized knee on Penguins rookie forward Conor Sheary could result in supplementary discipline.

The incident occurred 3:23 into third period when, on his way back to the Capitals’ bench, Wilson drive his left knee into the left knee of Sheary, dropping him to the ice and taking out defenseman Brian Dumoulin in the process.

“No, I didn't get an explanation and I'm not concerned,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of the play. “We're just going to play. We're just going to play hockey. The refs are going to call it the way they see it and our guys are going to play."

Asked if he thought the Department of Player Safety should review Wilson’s hit, Sullivan said, “I have no idea, but I'm sure those guys, they're pretty diligent with their job and I'm sure they'll look at everything and do whatever they think is appropriate."

Caps coach Barry Trotz said he did not see the play.