Blues’ McDonald embarrassed to be NHLer

Veteran St. Louis Blues forward Andy McDonald says although he is confident a new CBA will be reached to save the season, he is tired of all the back-and-forth negotiations.

“It’s the first time I’ve been embarrassed to say that I’m an NHL hockey player,” McDonald told the St. Louis Post Dispatch Friday.

Despite his frustration the 35-year-old feels a deal should be reached because the sides are close on many issues.

“What’s left to agree upon or settle between the two sides is very small in the big scheme of things,” McDonald said. “There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be some middle ground there and a deal be in place by the deadline.

“I’ve heard there’s a schedule with our first game on (Jan. 19). It’s pretty exciting to think about playing a game that soon. I think guys are pretty eager to get back.”

Seemingly some progress was made on Saturday as the two sides met with mediators and then face to face for the first time in days, and a source informed Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos that a tentative deal between the NHL and the NHLPA could be reached within 24 hours, or the NHLPA could serve a notice to disclaim as early as Saturday.

One issue for both sides is what the salary cap would be when hockey resumes. The NHL was insisting the cap top out at $60 million, while the players wanted it at $65 million. Sources indicated to Kypreos on Saturday that the NHL changed its proposed salary cap from to $63 million.

“Five million bucks, I think that’s pretty close,” McDonald said. “Is that really going to stop the season from happening? I realize there’s concerns about what’s going to happen next year when the cap goes down to $60 million (from $70.2 million) and what’s going to happen to the players that are unrestricted free agents. … Is it going to allow for them to be re-signed? But like I said, (60 vs. 65) is a small difference and hopefully there’s middle ground there to get a deal done.”

Overall, McDonald expressed his disappointment that the two sides have had trouble agreeing on many facets of the negotiations.

“All these things seem relatively minor compared to blowing the game up and missing a season of hockey and rolling the dice with fans and sponsorship,” MacDonald added. “I’m worried that there’s already been too much damage. It’s been a real shame.

“The sooner we can get guys together, it’s going to help us because it’s going to be a real quick turnaround. … It’s going to be interesting.”

McDonald had 22 points in 25 regular season games last year with the Blues after making his return following a long layoff due to a concussion.