In another sign that a NHL lockout is all but inevitable at this point, the Boston Bruins have canceled their annual rookie camp, which was set to begin Sept. 14 -- the day before the current collective bargaining agreement would expire.
In a conference call announcing the signing of Brad Marchand to a contract extension, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli -- who also said a Bruins rookie tournament was canceled -- told the media that some of their rookies would report to Bruins training camp if and when there is one. As of now, training camp is still on for Sept. 17.
"The rookie tournament has been canceled. And our rookie camp has been eliminated also," Chiarelli told the media in a conference call Friday. "We're going to bring in -- as the schedule permits -- we're going to bring in a number of those [players] that would have been in the rookie camp. And I'm not sure what our exact number is going to be at. It's a little bit fluid right now, but it will probably be a little bigger camp to start than normally what we're accustomed to. But there won't be any 'rookie camp,' per se."
Chiarelli touched on various CBA-related issues and acknowledged he is currently in discussions with other restricted free agents to extend them but did not specify whom. The Bruins extended Brad Marchand on Wednesday. Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Tuukka Rask will all be restricted free agents next summer.
Here are some tidbits from the teleconference Friday:
On other restricted and unrestricted free agents:
"I've had some discussions and I'll leave it at that," Chiarelli said. "I don't really like to comment on negotiations, but for the sake of hearing something different than the labor situation, I'll go off the rails a bit and tell you I've had some discussions with some of our guys."
"You look at comparable players, you look at where your team salary structure is, and you look at the market," Chiarelli said. "You don't look strictly at one of those things -- you try and look at all of them. So we try and do that in all our negotiations, and we will continue to do that. Sometimes you're faced with different dynamics, and you have to make decisions at certain junctures of the negotiation, but generally speaking the comparables are important; comparable peer groups, and where he fits into the team salary structure."
On the rules for players entering the American Hockey League in the event of a lockout:
"In a nutshell, it was those waiver-exempt players that would go down, and then as far as those 'depth players' -- I say that because I think there was a definition of those types of players last year -- I think a lot of those guys ended up that you were able to sign them to American League contracts. Then there were a few guys that required waivers that were 'bona fide NHL players' that chose at some point to play then sign AHL deals. So you've got a whole range of types of players. And this was last time ... I don't know if this is what's going to happen this time."
On the status of Dougie Hamilton in terms of starting the year in the Ontario Hockey League and being able to make the jump to the NHL if there's a lockout:
"It's less unclear. We're told they're working on an agreement, and we're told that there will be the ability to take players, in the event of a work stoppage, and it cutting into the CHL [Canadian Hockey League] season," Chiarelli said. "There will be some type of ability to take players from their respective CHL teams. So, I'm hoping that that will be finalized, but at the very least I'm told that it's expected to happen in the agreement. So, I mean, to the extent -- I don't know how many we can take, and I know that they haven't done the agreement yet, but they're working on it. So yes, if we can take one, I can tell you that he'll be the one."
On whether there is a different perspective from players to sign contracts prior to a possible labor stoppage:
"That really never entered into our discussions [with Marchand]," Chiarelli said. "I can understand the question; it's been written enough that that seems to be a leverage point. I can understand if you're maybe trying to get something that you don't think will be there when we return if there's a stoppage. I guess there's the specter of a new system and we've all been hearing about it for the last couple of months. That drives it I think, but potentially I guess from the players' side, and maybe from our side to the extent that we can -- and there may be some guys we're unable to get to -- but we've tried to be relatively proactive in extending contracts for guys prior to the start of the season and we're trying to keep our core together. It's part and parcel of that in what we're trying to do, not so much governed by this September 15th date."