The National Hockey League Players Association appears to be stepping up preparations for its members if the threatened lockout by the NHL takes place on Sept. 15.
Citing a union memo it had obtained, USA Today reported Wednesday that the NHLPA will hold a two-day meeting in New York City next week prior to the Friday, Sept. 15 lockout deadline. That meeting is likely to answer many of the pressing questions that union membership has and what preparations to make if the lockout indeed occurs.
The memo has a rather telling title: "How Does a Lockout Affect Me?"
It is slated to answer questions from membership as the NHL prepares to invoke its third player lockout in the last 18 years, dating back to 1994.
According to the USA Today report, the memo answers queries such as whether currently injured players will still receive paychecks during the lockout (answer: they will). Among players that fall into that category are New York Rangers left wing Marian Gaborik (recovering from shoulder surgery), Boston Bruins center Marc Savard and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger (both are recuperating from concussions).
"If you are unfit to play because of a hockey-related injury when a lockout begins, you are entitled to receive your salary until you are fit to play," the memo said. "If you are currently injured, you should make sure that your condition is fully documented and that your club is aware of it. If you do not receive your salary payment when it becomes due, you should contact your agent and/or the NHLPA legal department immediately."
One other point of contention is whether players will be allowed to play in other leagues during the lockout. However, if those players are injured playing for other teams in other leagues, they may have trouble returning to the NHL when the lockout is eventually lifted.
"We expect that your NHL club would suspend you without pay until you are fit to play," the NHLPA memo said. "There also is a possibility that the club might take other disciplinary action. The NHLPA may be able to dispute such suspensions and disciplinary actions under the grievance and arbitration procedure.
"If you intend to play for a club in another league during a lockout, we recommend that you ask that club to insure the value of your SPC (standard players' contract) against injury. If the club is unwilling to do so, we recommend that you purchase disability insurance on your own."
Besides currently injured players, other NHLPA members will still receive various amounts of monies during the lockout, if it occurs, including signing bonuses, returns of escrow monies and buyout payments.
And, while the possibility is unlikely, there is still a chance that teams could still trade or release players during the lockout, which is something the union is preparing its membership for, just in case.
"During previous lockouts, the clubs did not trade players or the rights to players after the lockout started," the memo said. "We expect that clubs will take the same position in the event of another lockout."
---Center Zack Smith signed a four-year contract extension with the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, the team announced.
Smith will earn an average $1.89 million per year. He was entering the final season of a two-year contract, but is now signed through 2016-17.
He had 14 goals and 12 assists in 81 games last season, then had one assist in seven games in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
---Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog became the youngest player in NHL history to be named a team captain.
At 19 years, 286 days, Landeskog was selected to succeed veteran Milan Hejduk. He's 11 days younger than Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was when he earned the "C" on May 31, 2007.
The only other teenager to be named a permanent NHL captain was Vincent Lecavalier, for the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 1, 2000. He was 19 years, 315 days at the time.
Landeskog said the decision came as a surprise.
"I had no clue. Landeskog told NHL.com Tuesday. "I was a little bit shocked at first. I didn't expect this at all, especially this early in my career. But I feel like I'm ready for it and this organization feels like I'm ready for it."
Landeskog, the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, made the team as an 18-year-old last October. He won the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie in June after collecting 52 points and a team-leading 22 goals while playing in all 82 games.