NHL lockout 2012: Tuesday labor talks important with more cancellations imminent

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A puck hasn't been dropped in the NHL since June 11, 2012, and that's likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. The NHL lockout is now a month old. Training camps have been canceled, the preseason is long gone and two weeks of the regular season (up to Oct. 24) have been called off. Many players have bolted to Europe to earn a paycheck, while some of the younger ones have been sent to the American Hockey League to stay sharp.

The owners and the NHL Players' Association have not met since Oct. 11 and the core economic issues haven't been discussed since the lockout began. But for those eternal optimists, the two sides will convene Tuesday in Toronto. Though they won't jump into the big issues per se, the negotiations are supposed to be about "ideas for moving the process forward on the main issues, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. We're talking about baby steps here, but at least the two sides acknowledge (instead of just their empty words that say so) a new collective bargaining agreement won't be reached without these topics -- percentage of revenue, contract length, arbitration, entry level contracts, age of free agency and revenue sharing -- at least being touched on in some level.

As summarized by The Sporting News: The owners want the players to take a cut in the percent of revenue they earn in salary, and their first offer centered on the players taking a 43 percent share (compared to their 57 percent currently). The union's proposal netted them more than 50 percent and centered their share to projected growth of the NHL, which the league disagrees with. A 50-50 split seems like the inevitable solution, but neither side has been willing to compromise to that level.

Make no mistake about it: Tuesday's meetings will be very important for the season's hopes. SportsBusiness Journal's Chris Botta says, "NHL went easy with soft first cancellation of games. Had no impact. League will go big this week." Some headway on the major issues could be the determining factor to how quickly -- and how many games -- the NHL knocks off the regular season slate. A "meeting" -- also known as just going through the motions as the sides act like they care -- like the many others that have occurred since the work stoppage commenced likely means you can cross off November hockey.

Let's take a look at what Rangers, Devils and Islanders are up to during the NHL lockout.

RANGERS: Ryan McDonagh recently signed in the KHL. The defenseman is averaging 23:21 ice time in two games and has two assists. ... Rick Nash is owning the Swiss League like you'd expect a superstar NHL player to do. He has six goals and an assist in seven games. ... Carl Hagelin has signed to play with Sodertalje SK in Sweden, and he has two assists in his only game. ... Henrik Lundqvist recently went home to Sweden. He has acknowledged interest in playing for his hometown team, but hasn't started playing just yet. It seems inevitable, though. ... Chris Kreider has two assists in two AHL games.

DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk is owning the KHL right now for St. Petersburg SKA. He has five goals and nine assists in seven games, and he's also a plus-eight. ... Anton Volchenkov is also in the KHL. In two games, he's averaged 19:30 in ice time and is pointless. ... Marek Zidlicky, in the Czech League, has played in ten games, has six assists and 16 penalty minutes. ... The AHL season is still very young, so none among this group -- Jacob Josefson, Adam Henrique, Mattias Tedenby or Adam Larsson -- have points yet. Big numbers should be expected for Henrique, while Larsson gets an elevated role and North American experience.

ISLANDERS: John Tavares has done just fine in the Swiss League, accumulating seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games. ... He's teammates on Bern with Islanders captain Mark Streit. In nine games, the blueliner has three goals and four assists. ... Lubomir Visnovsky has two goals and a helper with Bratislava of the KHL. ... The young Islanders who were eligible to be sent to the AHL have gotten off to a fast start. Physical defenseman Travis Hamonic has three assists in two games, to go with 12 penalty minutes. ... Twenty-year-old Nino Niederreiter has two goals and two assists. He has the talent to be a great player in the NHL, but he has been overwhelmed so far, so he should benefit greatly from AHL action.

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