NHL players hit ice for charity
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Nearly 12,000 Chicago Blackhawks fans were treated to a high-scoring charity hockey fix Friday night, while the real game was the posturing between the NHL and its locked-out players.
Members of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup team skated against a squad made up of a grab bag of other NHL players, including Anaheim's Bobby Ryan, Carolina's Jordan Staal and Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter.
For the record, the Blackhawks lost 16-15 in a shootout, but Chicago star Patrick Kane had five goals.
But after the NHL canceled games through November earlier Friday, much of the buzz at the Allstate Arena -- home of the AHL's Chicago Wolves -- focused on the work stoppage.
The lockout has claimed 326 regular-season contests and the NHL maintains playing a full 82-game schedule is no longer possible after a league-imposed deadline for a deal with the NHLPA passed.
Last week, the NHL offered a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, which exceeded $3 billion last season, but that proposal was rejected by the union. The players responded with three counteroffers, all of which would get the sides to a 50-50 deal, but the league quickly turned them down.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews sees the same pattern.
"I saw it in the meeting room last week," Toews said. "(NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) and everyone worked very hard in coming up with those three different proposals and (the NHL) didn't even have the courtesy to look at it for more than five minutes or even to discuss it. As has been proven over time, they're just on a timeline and they're waiting to see how much they can squeeze us for."
Ryan flew in from California for the game -- which benefitted Ronald McDonald House Charities -- for an update from Fehr and talk to fellow players.
"When you have to move deadline and dates back it's a little bit of a Debbie Downer, I guess is the best way to put it," Ryan said.
Ryan says he's quickly getting the sense of the tone of the talks.
"I think it's orchestrated and probably overly done," he said. "I think there's a lot of drama you can put away if both sides step up and get it done."
Kane echoed the sentiment, saying he wasn't surprised by the league-imposed deadline and claim that an 82-game schedule was no longer possible.
"Any day they were going to come out with cancellations," Kane said. "We knew it was coming." Fehr isn't sure, however, that a full 82-game schedule is yet out of the picture if talks resume.
"I don't know," he said. "All I can tell you is when a deal is reached, we hope that both sides make the maximum effort to but back together the largest number of games that are physically possible to do."
Ryan just wants to see fans back in NHL arenas as soon as possible, considering the entire 2004-05 season was lost to a labor dispute.
"The fans came back and you can't have a lockout twice in a fan's memory," he said. "Some fans may not come back this time."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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