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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.

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No special treatment for the Capitals' World Cup stars

No special treatment for the Capitals' World Cup stars

All seven of the Capitals’ skaters who participated in the World Cup of Hockey eventually must take — and pass — the training camp conditioning test.

Why? Because, as associate coach Todd Reirden said, it's important to the team's decision makers that everyone, regardless of status, gets treated the same.

“I’m still making them do the skate test,” Reirden said with a chuckle. “And they want to do the skate test because they know that’s what Washington Capitals do.”

Team USA members Matt Niskanen and T.J. Oshie passed the test easily Monday morning. John Carlson will take the test Tuesday.

“They don’t want to have any special privilege or special exemption because of where they were playing,” Reirden added. “They know that everyone trains for that and it’s not fun. It’s important for them as team guys and leaders to do that. All of them are huge leaders for our team. It’s awesome to see."

Said Oshie: “Hey, we're part of the team. We got to get it done.”

Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov will take the test later this week.

The test requires players to skate from end-to-end 2 ½ times with a two-minute break in between reps, of which there are three. Nine players had to retake the test Saturday after failing it the day before.   


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Lucas Johansen, Vitek Vanecek to make NHL debut in Capitals preseason opener

Lucas Johansen, Vitek Vanecek to make NHL debut in Capitals preseason opener

Capitals fans won't have to wait long to get a look at the team's 2016 first-round pick. Defenseman Lucas Johansen will be in the lineup Monday as the Caps open their preseason against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center (7 p.m. on CSN).

Johansen, 18, was selected 28th overall in the 2016 draft. Monday will be his first NHL experience. Last season Johansen played 69 games in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets, tallying 10 goals and 39 assists. Based on the morning skate, he will be paired with Taylor Chorney.

Goalie Vitek Vanecek will also be making his NHL debut as he will get the start in net for the Caps. The Czech netminder played his first season of North American hockey in 2015-16 with South Carolina of the ECHL. He managed a 2.03 goals against average and .917 save percentage while with the Stingrays and also played in one game in the AHL with Hershey.

Also of note is that the newly acquired Lars Eller will be in the lineup for the Caps. He is someone fans should certainly keep an eye on as he continues to adjust to his new team.

RELATED: Schmidt suffers injury in practice

Here are the lines from Monday's morning skate:

Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Stanislav Galiev

Nathan Walker - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik - Riley Barber - Brad Malone

Chris Bourque - Chandler Stephenson - Paul Carey

Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Lucas Johansen - Taylor Chorney

Aaron Ness - Tyler Lewington

Facing the Caps on Monday will be a Carolina Hurricanes team led by Jordan Staal. You can watch the game at 7 p.m. on CSN.

MORE CAPITALS: Niskanen puts World Cup disappointment in the past