The NHL’s recent decision to decline their early opt-out clause from the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was a step in the right direction to labor talks, but there’s still work to be done, with the NHLPA next up to make a decision. Fortunately, it seems both sides are open to doing whatever it takes to avoid a work stoppage. The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell reports that both sides seem willing to extend the players’ union’s upcoming September 15th opt-out deadline to allow for talks to continue. Campbell writes that negotiations on a CBA extension are well on their way and neither side wants to see progress stalled by a deadline. He believes that the NHLPA could be given a few extra months, perhaps into early 2020, before they would have to make a decision on their opt-out clause. An extension on that deadline could give the talks enough time to lead to an agreement on a CBA extension, pushing the current expiry date from 2022 to 2025. It would also be an act of good faith on the part of the owners, who clearly stand to benefit more from an extension on the current CBA than do the players, who continue to be frustrated by escrow terms. With two weeks to go until that existing deadline, an official announcement on a possible deadline extension should be coming sooner rather than later, if it does in fact happen.
- Rumors emerged yesterday that former NHL forward Nikita Scherbak had not done enough in training camp and the preseason with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk and that his recently-signed contract was in jeopardy of being terminated. However, the KHL regular season began today and Scherbak was in the lineup as Omsk snapped a nine-game losing streak against rival CSKA Moscow. Granted, in a match-up chock full of former NHLers, Scherbak only served as a substitute for Avangard and played little role in the win. He has a ways to go to earn the trust of Bob Hartley, also an NHL vet, but TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that, for now, the team does not plan to buy out his contract. Scherbak signed a three-year, $3.6MM contract with Omsk in June after dropping from 26 NHL games in 2017-18 to just eight last season. A 2014 first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Scherbak failed to produce at the NHL level over four pro seasons, recording eight points in 37 combined games with the Habs and Los Angeles Kings, and took his very first opportunity to return to Europe. Considering how things have gone thus far in the KHL, it seems unlikely that the 23-year-old will ever make his way back across the Atlantic.
- Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane is being honored for his achievements well before the end of his career. Ryan Pyette of The London Free Press reports that Kane will have his number retired by the OHL’s London Knights this season. GM Mark Hunter confirmed that Kane’s No. 88, the same number he wears in the NHL, will be lifted into the rafters in London on January 17th. Kane, now 30, only played one season with the Knights, having graduated from the U.S. National Team Development Program. However, in that illustrious 2006-07 campaign, Kane put up unthinkable numbers, recording 145 points in just 58 games (2.5 points per game), and another 31 points in the postseason. His efforts made him an easy choice for the Blackhawks with the first overall pick in 2007. Kane becomes the ninth player to have his number retired by the storied junior franchise, joining a list of other familiar NHL names like Rob Ramage, Dino Ciccarelli, Darryl Sittler, Brendan Shanahan, Brad Marsh, Rick Nash, Dave Bolland, and Corey Perry.