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NHL Roundup: League cuts staffers' hours, pay; Ovechkin signs to play in Russia

The Sports Xchange
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In a sign that the NHL lockout could become a long-term work stoppage, league officials announced Wednesday that they have cancelled all preseason games through the end of September.

Likely to be next up is cancelling games in the first week of October, including the hyped match at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 2 between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, according to ESPNNewYork.com.

The league imposed the lockout this past Saturday, Sept. 15. No new negotiations between the league and the NHL Players Association are scheduled, with the last negotiation session between both sides now being a week ago.

The league also imposed cuts in salary and work hours for many employees, according to ESPNNewYork.com, with those reductions expected to be a 20 percent pay cut and a reduction from five to four-day work weeks. The longer the lockout continues, the chance of increased pay cuts and even shorter work weeks exists.

The NHL regular season is slated to begin on Oct. 11, but at this point, that possibility is in serious jeopardy.

---Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin signed with the Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, the team announced.

Ovechkin, 27 played 153 games for Dynamo Moscow from 2001-05 before beginning his NHL career as the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft.

According to a report in Russia's Sport-Express, Ovechkin could play in the county for a long time if the players and NHL owners can't come to an agreement.

"If our salaries get slashed, I'll have to think about whether to return to NHL," Ovechkin is quoted in the paper. "[I] won't rule out staying in Russia past this season."

Ovechkin's will reportedly earn him about $6 million in annual salary. He would've made $9.538 million with the Capitals. Ovechkin is obligated to return to the Capitals once a settlement is reached on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Ovechkin debuted with Dynamo at 16 in 2001, and also played for them through the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

---Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov will play for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, his agent told the Edmonton Journal Tuesday.

Yakupov, the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, could play as early as Saturday, his agent, Igor Larionov, Yakupov's agent, told the paper.

The Oilers selected Yakupov, a Russian forward from the Sarnia Sting, as the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Friday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

---Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza signed with Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss Elite League, his agent confirmed to NHL.com.

Spezza scored 34 goals last season, tying a career best, and totaled a team-leading 84 points. He had three goals and two assists in seven Stanley Cup playoff games.

---The National Hockey League cut the pay of office staffers by 20 percent Wednesday morning, instituted a four-day workweek starting Oct. 1, according to an ESPNNewYork.com report.

The across-the-board cuts are a result of the league's third work stoppage since the 1994-95 season. The current lockout began Sunday when the collective bargaining agreement expired.

A number of NHL players have already committed to playing in Europe since the lockout. The sides traded proposals last week, but remain significantly apart on the economic ideas that are crucial to a new deal.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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