(Dobber) The media is gradually digging out details of the negotiations and, as you would expect if details become available, they aren't good. Maybe the media enjoys painting negative pictures (you think?) but they give the impression that the two sides are just being polite with each other.


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The lockout tracker, found here, has been updated with the Hjamarsson signing, the Vanek release, and some oversights.

 

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Another long day of NHL meetings – a good sign. And after the meetings, both sides refused to speak on the content of their discussions – a really good sign. Still lots of work to do, but things are looking pretty good right now, I’d say.

 

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The OHL selects took on Russia last night in the Super Series. I didn’t catch all of the game, but here are my thoughts:

 

Brett Ritchie is a beast. He was physically dominant all game long. Dallas has a good one here.

 

Connor McDavid – wow. He missed pulling off a few dazzling moves – for a 15-year-old he is quite developed physically – hewasn’t pushed around at all out there. The early favorite to go 1st overall in 2015, and it is easy to see why.

 

Ryan Murphy is a stud. He can flat out fly, and he reads the game really well. Looks a lot like Scott Niedermayer out there (stylistically, at least).

 

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Yahoo! Sports writer Nick Cotsonika was over in Europe for a few weeks, and he reflects on his journey in this post.

 

The hockey is pretty good – and improving. Even if you take the NHLers out of the equation, European hockey is better than most North Americans might think.


"I think a lot of people would be surprised," Plekanec said.


No, it isn't as fast on the larger ice surface, and it isn't as physical. But that's not all bad. Instead of dumping the puck and sending forecheckers to drill the defensemen, the Europeans keep the puck and try to make plays. I saw more backdoor goals than dirty goals. I saw a lot of skating and passing. I saw no player leave with a potential concussion in the seven games I watched, yet I still saw some hits and some scraps.


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More on Brett Ritchie – here is a piece on him from DefendingBigD.

 

At the very least, Ritchie has started to show that the big jump in production last season might not be as big a fluke as it first appeared. His combination of size and skill is something that NHL teams highly value and his skill set would certainly be welcome on the Dallas Stars at some point in the future. He compares, in many ways, to Alex Chiasson but at the same time is a much different player; Ritchie is, first and foremost, a goal scoring winger.


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Zack Kassian has been suspended for one game in the AHL. He threw his stick in the penalty box last game, and it bounced up and hit the in-box official in the face. Lesson learned I hope.

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The media is starting to pay attention to Mark Barberio, and for good reason. The AHL defenseman of the year in 2012 is the real deal.

 

“I think one of the things that separates Barbs is his emphatic enthusiasm for the game,” Cooper said. “Guys rally around him because he has such a passion for the game. If he makes a bad play, he’s almost apologetic to a fault.”


Barberio’s execution under the spotlight means regrets are rarely necessary. At the end of a recent Crunch practice, the whole team gathered at one end of the rink.


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A hilarious post – what each NHL team is looking for in the latest CBA.

 

Buffalo Sabres - Ryan Miller's crease is to be expanded by 6 feet in diameter and be equipped with laster trip wires around the perimeter. Any opposing forward who comes within a foot of the fragile goaltender will explode on contact with the tripwire, thus preventing the need for any Sabres defender to try to step in and save their goalie from a concussion, or a "concussion", or whatever the ailment Miller says he will acquire from the collision.


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Another great read – an excerpt from Jeremy Roenick’s latest book, in which he discusses his relationship with ‘Iron Mike’ Keenan:

 

After a late night of partying at the Roxy in Vancouver, Roenick wanted to sneak back into the team hotel:

 

Wanting to avoid any possibility of a Keenan ambush, I went around the side of the building to find the loading dock. That was locked down tight, as was the entrance to the hotel kitchen, which was on the same side of the building. But as I inspected the area, I noticed a ventilation grate; and peering through it, I could see into the hotel's kitchen. Back then, hotels were still issuing metal keys, not key cards, and I used my key to unscrew the grate. Within a couple of minutes, I had the grate removed and was scooting through the air duct, attired in a suit. I ended up breathing in plenty of soot and dust, but it was a small price to pay to pull one over on Keenan.


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