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NHL, union pin down salary arbitation dates

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THE NHL and NHLPA have arrived at salary arbitration hearing dates.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler has his set for Aug. 3 in Toronto.

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Wheeler made $2.2 million last season, having been traded by Boston to Atlanta late in 2010-11.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff indicated Thursday there was plenty of time for the sides to come to an agreement before the hearing.

Asked Friday if he's begun preparations for the team's potential presentation to the arbitrator, Cheveldayoff said: "You're constantly preparing. Your conversations in essence are a mini-arbitration before the arbitration. That's kind of how it works. Both sides talk about the different things that come up in a situation like this."

The Jets' top priorities with restricted free agents remain with Wheeler and defenceman Zach Bogosian.

Cheveldayoff said there wasn't a lot of discussion Friday on either case. It's likely that Friday's transaction that helped the team obtain Eric Fehr took up much of his time.

 

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Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leopold was pretty definitive about the NHL's future realignment on Thursday when he did a radio interview in the Twin Cities with KFAN.

Leopold said he thought the Wild would wind up in the same division as the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks and possibly the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Apart from what would appear to be a new setup with just two divisions in each conference, Leopold also sounded confident a balanced schedule is in the works for the NHL.

A realignment is coming after the 2011-12 season. The focus will be to move the Jets from the Southeast Division (where they took Atlanta's spot) and the Eastern Conference, back to a more logical place in the Western Conference. Detroit, Nashville and Columbus are making cases to move to the Eastern Conference.

Leopold's certainty is curious in some respects. If it was all so settled, even with the Jets' late arrival via the Atlanta deal, why the one-year delay?

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2011 0

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