• EVENING UPDATE (Stubbs): Mathieu Darche has played his last game with the Canadiens, apparently unwilling to accept a two-way contract offer that would have paid him dramatically less should he have been sent to the minors.
On his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, Darche first poured cool water on an TVA report than had his agent claiming it seemed unlikely the 35-year-old would be back for a fourth season in a Canadiens uniform. But Darche later suggested in the evening, again on Twitter, that it seemed he’d not be back with the Habs. At the same time, he thanked Canadiens fans for their support.
Darche, who earned $700,000 last season, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The NHLPA wrapped up its three-day meeting in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations which will begin at the end of this week.
The PA disclosed the players who will be on their negotiating committee and both Mathieu Darche and Chris Campoli are among the 31 on the initial list. More players could be added down the road.
At a press briefing after the meetings in which he was surrounded by a couple of dozen players, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr didn’t disclose much else about the upcoming negotiations or the players’ positions heading into them. He also said he doesn’t know much about the owners’ positions adding he’s not concerned about that and it wasn’t that unusual in his experience.
Most expect the main issue to be about the share of revenue under the salary cap system that will be devoted to players’ salaries. That currently stands at 57 percent.
It’s believed the NHL owners may ask for a reduction to 50 percent, which is what they NFL and NBA owners achieved via lockouts during the past year and that could bring about a lockout and a delay in the start of next season. Fehr said, however, that wasn’t what he hoped would happen and added earlier this week that, legally, the season could start even if a new CBA isn’t reached as long as the two sides kept talking.
For more on this, you can read my SI.com story from Tuesday here.
While he wouldn’t discuss what players have told him about the issues they believe are important or how the mood heading into this negotiation compares to 2004 — “I don’t disclose conversations I have with players,” he said. — Fehr place no restrictions on the players from discussing their feelings with the media. Unlike the owners and team executives, who are under a gag order from the league office, the NHLPA won’t discourage their members from speaking to the press.
He repeated that he took the job after helping the PA get reorganized and finding he liked the players “an awful lot.” As to their suitability to take part in helping reach a new CBA, he said of the players, “They get it, they get it easily, they get it the first time, and they’re on top of the game.”
He added he’s fully prepared to go into the negotiation with them.
He expected player participation in the negotiations to be “very large, very significant and constant.” He added that any player was welcomed to attend the negotiations and that the PA would pay for their ticket and hotel room. “It’s their futures,” Fehr said, “and they need to take responsibility for it.”
NHLPA Negotiating Committee:
Craig Adams (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Adrian Aucoin (Phoenix Coyotes)
Alex Auld (Ottawa Senators)
David Backes (St. Louis Blues)
Marty Biron (New York Rangers)
Brad Boyes (Buffalo Sabres)
Chris Campoli (Montreal Canadiens)
B.J. Crombeen (St. Louis Blues)
Mathieu Darche (Montreal Canadiens)
Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders)
Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes)
Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers)
Ruslan Fedotenko (New York Rangers)
Alex Goligoski (Dallas Stars)
Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg Jets)
Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers)
Jamie Langenbrunner (St. Louis Blues)
Manny Malhotra (Vancouver Canucks)
Steve Montador (Chicago Blackhawks)
Dominic Moore (San Jose Sharks)
Brendan Morrison (Chicago Blackhawks)
Douglas Murray (San Jose Sharks)
George Parros (Anaheim Ducks)
Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators)
Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks)
John Tavares (New York Islanders)
Shea Weber (Nashville Predators)
Kevin Westgarth (Los Angeles Kings)
Dan Winnik (San Jose Sharks)
James Wisniewski (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)