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Bettman on lockout: 'I feel terrible about it'

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Bettman on lockout: 'I feel terrible about it'

Drawing comparisons to the salary cap models of the NBA and NFL, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear again on Thursday that unless players are willing to take a reduction in salaries there will be a lockout at midnight on Saturday.

Given the fact the leagues players have stood firm on their stance of not participating in salary rollbacks, the NHL appears headed for its second work stoppage in eight years.

Listen, nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do, OK? Bettman told reporters after receiving unanimous support in a two-hour meeting with the NHLs Board of Governors.

This is what I do. This is what my life is about in terms of how I spend most of my waking hours. This is very hard and I feel terrible about it.

Saying the NHL can not afford a system in which players receive 57 percent of the leagues 3.3 billion in hockey-related revenues, Bettman said he is willing to meet NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr anytime, any place to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But it wont come until the players agree to a reduction in salaries.

In the NFLs 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players share of revenue starts at 47 percent and increases to 48.5 percent in the final year of 2021. In the NBAs CBA, also 10 years, the players share begins at 49 percent and increases to 51 percent in 2021.

The players in those two other leagues recognized that it was not inappropriate or unfair to reduce what they were getting, Bettman said. And thats in a challenging and recent economic climate.

In his most recent six-year proposal, Bettman called for the players share of revenue to decrease from its current 57 percent to 49 percent this season and gradually decreasing to 47 percent in the final year.

The players most recent proposal based on a 7.1 percent annual growth in revenue -- calls for gradual increases to their share of revenue, from 2 percent next season, to 4 percent the following year and 6 percent in 2014-15.

Even a brief lockout will cost players more than what were proposing, Bettman countered.

So what happens next?

On Sunday players will begin heading back to their respective homes. Some will head to Europe to play in professional leagues in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Germany.

As for Bettman, he says his latest offer is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposal but made it clear the next offer may not be as sweet as the last.

I said the same offer would not be on the table because of the amount of damage that would take place with lockout, Bettman said.

We made the last offer. We havent gotten a formal response to our proposal and Im hoping we get one that recognizes we made yet another meaningful move.

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Braden Holtby officially named one of three finalists for 2017 Vezina Trophy

Braden Holtby officially named one of three finalists for 2017 Vezina Trophy

Braden Holtby is officially in the running to repeat as the top goaltender in the NHL.

On Saturday afternoon, the Capitals' goalie was named as a finalist for the 2017 Vezina Trophy, per the NHL release.

The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL's top netminder based on regular-season play.

Holtby — who won the award in 2016, joins Canadiens goalie Carey Price — the 2015 winner — and with Columbus Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky.

The sixth-year Saskatchewan native finished the regular season with a 42-13-6 record in 63 starts. He recorded nine shutouts and had a 2.07 goals against average and entered the postseason with a .925 save percentage.

Holtby finished the regular season with the league lead in shutouts and wins, and ranked second in GAA and third in save percentage.

RELATED: HOLTBY FINALLY SHINES IN GAME 5

 

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Barry Trotz considers drastic lineup change for pending return of Karl Alzner

Barry Trotz considers drastic lineup change for pending return of Karl Alzner

Thanks to the indestructibility of Alex Ovechkin, Karl Alzner remains the only Capitals' player out of the lineup due to injury. Alzner has not played since Game 2 on April 15 of Washington’s series against the Toronto Maple Leafs due to an upper-body injury. His absence in Game 3 was significant because it snapped an iron man streak of 599 consecutive starts for the veteran defenseman.

In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Barry Trotz said that Alzner is “day to day and he’s improving.” That’s good news, but it does present an interesting dilemma for the Caps. Who comes out if Alzner goes in?

Nate Schmidt has played in relief of Alzner and played well. He has two assists in three games this postseason and scored a goal that was called back because of a controversial goalie interference call. His speed has also proven to be an asset against the speedy Maple Leafs and, should they get there, would also be useful in a second-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, another team that likes to push the pace.

RELATED: Capitals-Maple Leafs Game 6 how to watch

Alzner, however, is one of the team’s best defensive players. Washington’s play in the defensive zone has been suspect all series long and the Caps have allowed nine goals in the three games Alzner has been out.

To solve this dilemma, Trotz may make a fairly drastic change to the lineup when Alzner is finally ready to return.

When asked if he would consider using seven defensemen, Trotz did not hesitate with his answer, “Yes, I would.”

A typical lineup consists of 12 forwards (four lines of three) and six defensemen (three pairs of two). Dressing seven defensemen would mean dropping a forward and would represent a pretty dramatic shift considering Washington has not tried this sort of lineup at any point this season.

The benefit of dressing seven defensemen is flexibility. Trotz could use three pairs and use the extra as a situational player for power plays or penalty kills. He could also switch up his pairs depending on zone starts.

Someone would still have to come out of the lineup, but it would have to be a forward and, judging by ice time from the last two games, it’s not hard to figure out who that would be.

Brett Connolly played only 4:26 in Game 3 and 6:12 in Game 4.  He is the only player who did not get any playing time on special teams on Friday. When asked about Connolly’s playing time, Trotz said Thursday, “I felt that the way they were going in terms of the minutes, I just felt, I was going with the 10 or 11 guys we were going with.”

The downside of going with seven defensemen is that it creates uneven pairs and lines, but with Trotz essentially only utilizing 11 forwards anyway it is perhaps no surprise that Trotz would consider the move.

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz updates Ovechkin's status for Game 6