Breaking Sports

Saturday, March 05, 2005

nhl- PA & NHL Need Each Other

from the mercurynews (reg. req.), Throughout a 172-day lockout, many felt that sanity would prevail. It not only hasn't, but it has become evident that the NHL and the players' association are insane.
One side is threatening to resume in the fall with replacement players. The other side is threatening to start its own league.
Both sides don't seem to comprehend that neither can succeed without the other.
The NHL needs to understand that the players are the product. Fans pay NHL prices to watch the speed and skill of NHL-quality talent. If owners think fans will watch a bunch of fringe ECHLers masquerade in NHL uniforms, they'll quickly witness the implosion of several franchises.
On the other hand, NHL players are dreaming if they think they can succeed in subpar markets in subpar arenas without the luxuries the NHL has to offer, such as million-dollar contracts, regardless of what salary-cap ceiling is established.

If you do not wish to go through the registration process at certain websites, remember bugmenot.com can be very helpful.

mlb- Steroid Use Drops

Major League Baseball is missing the boat by not including testing for the human growth hormone. Athletes are staying one step ahead of the testing. At least this is a step in the right direction.
from espn, The number of positive tests for steroids in major league baseball dropped to between 1 to 2 percent last season, commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday, and he predicted the elimination of the drug from the sport this year. The new figures, based on just under 1,200 tests, compare with 5 to 7 percent positive results in 2003, the first season that major league players were tested. Selig said the test results "startled me and a lot of other people." "I am very confident that we will effectively rid our sport of steroids in this coming season," he said at a news conference

retro- Way Back When

How far we have come....Take a look at some of our favorite sports web sites from the past. Some have gone through drastic changes.
Note- most links when in the website will not work, but it is still cool to take a look at how the sites used to look.
How fitting nhl.com had an error and was not accessible.
Does anyone even remember these sites looking like the did. I totally cannot recall what it used to be like.

nfl- Marcus Pollard

For the Detroit Lion fans who visit Breaking Sports, Marcus Pollard, free agent tight end, will be visiting the Detroit Lions on Tuesday. The Lions could use another tight end and Pollard would be an upgrade at that position.

nhl- Bleak Picture - No

from the torontosun, Why, if the league is in such bad shape, are people buying hockey teams? At its Tuesday meeting, the board approved the sale of the Vancouver Canucks. In a meeting in the near future, assuming the due diligence is satisfactory, it will approve the sale of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
During Bettman's 12-year tenure, 80% of the NHL teams have changed hands. Are all these new buyers people who want to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars?
Even though Bettman held a press briefing after Tuesday's board of governors meeting in New York, he didn't bother to announce the fact that those in attendance had listened to a proposal from GamePlan LLC and Bain Capital LLC to buy the NHL. After all, why would the public want to know that?
Better just to tell the media there were no significant expressions of unhappiness, even though, as Steve Simmons reported in yesterday's Sun, Maple Leafs governor Larry Tanenbaum delivered a blistering address and left the meeting early in "an emotional state."
If Bettman had mentioned the purchase offer, he would have been asked about his claims regarding the league's finances. These days, that's a subject he tried to avoid.
Remember all the fuss about the "super audit," the impeccable Levitt Report? We haven't heard much about it lately.
That's because Russ Conway of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune took the Levitt Report to a couple of accounting experts and found out that the "super audit" was no such thing. It wasn't even an audit.
Conway spoke to Richard Delgaudio, a professor of accounting and auditing at Merrimack College near Boston. "An audit implies that you look at documentation and source documentation," he said. "A review is when you just kind of look things over to see if it seems right."
The Levitt Report was the latter. It used figures supplied by the league teams, with no subsequent verification of their accuracy or degree to which they were complete.
Another accountant to whom Conway spoke said, "This is absolutely, unconditionally not an audit. To pass it off as one is nonsense."

nhl- 2006 Winter Olympics

from the nytimes (reg. req.), Has the lockout that canceled the National Hockey League season also shut out some elite players from next year's Winter Olympics? Maybe not.
The players want to go to Turin, Italy, for the Games from Feb. 15 to Feb. 26. The International Ice Hockey Federation wants them to participate and will wait for a decision. NBC would like to showcase them, too.
But the N.H.L. is not so sure. "I see it being extremely unlikely and very difficult," Commissioner Gary Bettman said after meeting this week with the N.H.L. Board of Governors in Manhattan. But he added, "I never say 'never' to anything."
The decision may not be up to Bettman if there is no agreement before then. Top players may refuse to work in a reconstituted N.H.L. as replacement workers or as strikebreakers.

Friday, March 04, 2005

nhl- Slow Friday Night

If you have some time to kill, let me suggest visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame audio/video vault. Some fantastic, well produced video and audio presentations.
I especially enjoy watching the old time player profiles and highly recommend the Gordie Howe Legend Spotlight.

nhl- NHLFA Public Service Announcement

I wonder if we will ever see this PSA in the USA (will open WMP video).
Good job NHLFA.

social- Take Stanley Too

A group of people will soon be climbing Mt. Everest this month to attempt to set a record. Team members will play hockey on the Khumbu glacier, on the world's highest mountain, in honor of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the U.S.S.R.
"It will be the highest Canadian hockey game ever played," Terry Kell, a member said at a press conference yesterday at Ryerson University to announce the expedition.

I suggest they take the Cup with them and place it atop Mt. Everest and keep it there!

nhl- Why Don't They Sell

Russ Conway via the gloucestertimes, What was the response from Bettman and the governors to a $3.5 billion offer to sell the NHL and 30 clubs?
"He just thanked us, basically a let's-stay-in-touch thing. It was a different kind of concept. We did not expect them to jump up and say, 'OK, we'll take it tomorrow.'"
Why not?
Oh, of course. Everybody should know that answer.
They're losing too much money. Remember?
Now that the "Gah-den" is back in the vocabulary of New England sports fans, all that is missing is one of its prime tenants: the Bruins.
By the time team owner Jerry Jacobs blew out of town yesterday with his pockets full — announcing a 20-year, $120 million deal for renaming his FleetCenter the "TD Banknorth Garden" — he already had turned down another $115 million or so for his hockey team.
In fact, every owner of a National Hockey League team did basically the same thing, rejecting a $3.5 billion offer to buy the entire league, lock, stock, and barrel.
The NHL insists that it lost $500 million in the last two seasons. The owners lock out the players, shut down the season, get into a bitter contract dispute with the union, alienate fans and sponsors, and the pro game is in its worst crisis ever. Team owners claim they were losing money hand over fist, some teams facing bankruptcies, and it's going to take years to recover from this work stoppage fiasco.
But along comes a group with plenty of dough — backed by a company controlling $50 billion in investment equity — and suddenly there's no takers.

nhl- Are the NHL Owners on the same Page

Tom Wilson, President/CEO Palace Sports & Entertainment & CEO, Tampa Bay Lightning, was just on WXYT radio in Detroit and said "even if the players would have accepted the NHL's latest offer, he was not sure that the owners would have."
I am starting to believe the owners killed the last deal on "Black Saturday".

nhl- Lets Talk Draft

from slam, By the looks of things, there will be no June amateur draft in the National Hockey League.
To have a draft, you have to have a collective bargaining agreement, and we all know where negotiations on that matter stand at the moment.
But what if an agreement were reached before June? Or what if an agreement were reached in time to start play this fall, with a draft in September? How does the NHL hold a draft after a season in which it was shut down?
This is one of the topics that came up for discussion at the league's recent board meeting in New York and, as might be expected, the opinions were diverse.
There did, however, seem to be general support for a system whereby a few lotteries are held -- perhaps six.
The bottom five teams in the 2003-04 standings would draw to establish the order of the first five selections. Then the teams that finished sixth-last through 10th-last would have another lottery to determine their order of selection and so on.

nhl- Don Cherry- NHL WIll Start in 2006

from the edmontonjournal, How is that the two sides, who were $6 million apart, couldn't strike a deal?
"You know what I think, I think it's got personal now. The players have ticked off the owners and the owners are going to go to the well."
What of the possibility that replacement players will form the new NHL?
"I hope there isn't but if there is and I hear any player criticize a replacement, they're going to get it from me. Talk about hypocrites. They go over to Europe, 400 of them, and take those jobs. As far as I'm concerned all those guys over there are scabs."
Would the game sell with replacement players in the lineup?
"I don't know. I watch the American league and it's good but you won't see Sundin, you won't see Modano, and let's face it, they sell the tickets. But hey, when I hear the National Hockey League say there's going to be hockey . . . it's the way the NFL went. It's too bad. The players are never ever going to make that money back.
"Personally I think it's going to get started in 2006."
Days after the season was cancelled, there was a meeting in New York and the scuttlebutt was that a deal would be struck, one that revolved around a $45-million cap. Did it sound feasible?
"That was their best offer. At that number everybody gets hurt a little bit -- the National Hockey League and the players -- and that's the way it should be. I was in Kingston two weeks ago with Kirk Muller, and everybody there, including me, thought there was going to deal ... Something happened that night that killed it."

nhl- Bettman Feeling Heat

from the torontosun, The gap between the Maple Leafs and the National Hockey League has grown wider, less trusting and more emotional. At issue isn't just the philosophical conflict between commissioner Gary Bettman and Leafs board chairman Larry Tanenbaum, but the contentious relationship between a hockey club that wants a deal done yesterday and a league bent on protecting its weaker franchises.
The Toronto Sun has learned that Tanenbaum read from a prepared statement at the owners-only portion of Tuesday's board of governors meeting in New York, strongly stating the position of the Leafs and urging that a deal with the players must be accomplished. Immediately afterward, he became a target of verbal abuse from his fellow owners, numerous sources at the meeting have confirmed.
One source referred to the shouting down of Tanenbaum as "pretty ugly."
Another called it "nasty business."
When asked to confirm that he received significant backlash from fellow governors after reading his statement, Tanenbaum first said: "I did not receive any type of backlash. I deny that."
But he quickly went on to say: "The meeting was confidential from the point of view of 30 owners. We made comments and others made comments. Those comments will remain confidential. I'm not going to speak about what went on.
"That's the commissioner's job if he chooses to. The commissioner can characterize it any way he wants."

nhl- Heading for Disaster

from the ottawasun, One of the NHL's most powerful agents warns that bringing in replacement players "could be disastrous to the league." Calgary-based agent J.P. Barry, co-managing director of IMG Hockey and the representative for Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, said yesterday he believes using replacement players would be a major mistake for the NHL.
"If you want to watch replacement players, go down to the UHL and watch those guys," said Barry. "Then, imagine them in Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators uniforms. That's exactly what you're going to get.
"I'm sure people would want to watch that for about a week and then they wouldn't want to watch it anymore. If the NHL makes a move like that it could force the players to start their own league in smaller centres."
A small group of agents met privately late Wednesday to discuss a players league and cross-Canada exhibition tour next year if there's no new collective bargaining agreement in place by September.
Indications are NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow expects a call from the NHL in the next two weeks to see if the two sides can sit down again.
Negotiations will likely resume with the 24% rollback offered by the players pulled off the table.
"If you've got replacement players playing in Toronto and a players league down the road in Hamilton with guys like Mats Sundin, Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr on the ice, which would you rather pay to watch?" asked Barry.
"There's not going to be a draft. No way," said a league source. "They should just cancel it now and get it over with because they're not going to have an agreement in place and if they do they're going to have a huge fight over who gets the No. 1 pick."

nhl- We Said No to the Union

from the bostonherald, "We're the first (people) who have ever said no to this (players') union,'' said Jeremy Jacobs. "The reasonisn't so much that we're just obstreperous and want to say no. We can't afford not to. There was just no way we could continue the way we were going. It has to be changed. It has to be fixed. If the Bruins had kept going this year, we would have been in a losing position. That's a tough thing to say about an Original Six franchise.''
Jacobs concedes that, in trying to fix the NHL, the owners could kill it. "I'm afraid there could be that threat,'' he said. "I don't see it. I don't expect that threat to occur. I do expect us to play next year, in one form or another.''
But Jacobs simply does not know when or if the Players Association will return to the negotiating table. "I have no idea whether they'll come back and negotiate,'' said Jacobs. "I do know the commissioner is going to attempt to re-engage them.''
Jacobs declined comment on the question of using replacement players next season, saying only, "It's certainly possible, but not desirable.''

nhl- Bits & Pieces

from the torontosun,
  • European teams want full commitments for next year and no 'out' clauses.
  • A big-name barnstorming tour of NHLers also is a possibility next season. International Management Group co-sponsored the Worldstars junket around Europe in December.
  • Several players said this week that they would not have voted for the owners' $42.5 million US salary cap proposal because the meat of the figure was too unappetizing.

nhl- Buyout $$$ Could Increase

from the torontostar, The U.S. buyout firm that stunned the hockey world with a $3.5 billion (U.S.) bid for the embattled NHL has lined up billions of dollars in financing and is prepared to substantially boost its offer if club owners also want to sell arenas, sports cable channels and other assets linked with the teams.
Some team owners said yesterday they weren't interested in selling at any price. And, while the proposal might be attractive to some, it would be virtually impossible to get all 30 clubs to sign on.
However, the proposal tabled in New York this week by Bain Capital LLC and its partner Game Plan LLC was just an opening shot, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday.

blog- Breaking Sports Update

Some of you may have noticed I started adding a "category tag" on the left side of the title on each post. Breaking Sports will soon be adding posts from most major sports, so the tag will help you view only posts that you may have an interest in.

Also, when posting a comment, you have the option of adding your name instead of being "anonymous". All you have to do is check "other" and fill in your name, nickname, initials, etc. and no registration process is required. It does make it much easier for other people to respond to your comment.

I have added New York Times Sports headlines on the right sidebar. If you click on a headline, you will go directly to the full NYT story. This is a service provided by Breaking Sports and are not ads of any type.

The last addition is the Google Search feature on the right sidebar. You can also enter key words and search Breaking Sports, although not every post has been archived by Google as of today.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

nhl- The TSN Boys

Burke and Healy discuss who has the advantage in the negotiations (will open WMP video).

McKenzie says the bid to buy the NHL is not a bad idea (will open WMP video).

nhl- The TSN Boys

Burke and Healy discuss who has the advantage in the negotiations (will open WMP video).

McKenzie says the bid to buy the NHL is not a bad idea (will open WMP video).

nhl- The TSN Boys

Burke and Healy discuss who has the advantage in the negotiations (will open WMP video).

McKenzie says the bid to buy the NHL is not a bad idea (will open WMP video).

mlb- Tigers TV Contract

from the detnews, Tigers fans have always been able to catch their team on free television. That won't be the case this season. Negotiations between Channel 50, which broadcast 25 games in 2004, and the Tigers dissolved this week, leaving cable network Fox Sports Net and its 110-game schedule as the Tigers' sole TV outlet in 2005.

Looks like Tiger owner Mike Ilitch has been taking lessons from Bill Wirtz, owner of the NHLs Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawk home games are not televised, thereby upsetting a huge number of faithful hockey fans.
Ilitch should step in and make a deal, but it is all about money these days for Ilitch.

nhl- Who Can Play

from the tennessean, Predators owner Craig Leipold says he has good news for local hockey fans: His team will be back on the ice this October.
But as to whether the players will look familiar, that remains to be seen.
Some observers have argued that U.S. labor laws won't allow for replacement players from foreign countries, and that certain provincial Canadian labor laws ban the use of replacement workers.
But Leipold says his legal counsel tells him otherwise on both counts.
''That is inaccurate information, according to what I've been told from labor lawyers,'' he said. ''Replacement players can be anybody, from Europe to Alaska or anywhere else. It's also my understanding that they can play in all 30 markets.
''American players went over to Europe to take the European players' jobs (during the lockout). So isn't it common sense that after being displaced from their own jobs, couldn't they come over here and fill the jobs of their American counterparts?''
Leipold says he believes Goodenow, who's guidance of the NHLPA has seen player salaries soar over the past decade, is the largest obstacle to the two sides reaching a deal.

nhl- Will Replacement Players Sell

from slam, The success of using replacement players in the NHL will be made or broken by the fans.
After all, they're the ones who'll be buying tickets.
Of course, that's if the league -- which vowed to be up and running in time for the 2005-06 campaign -- goes in that direction to return to action.
Flames president Ken King is gauging fan reaction to that concept.
"I would say it's medium to cool on replacement players," King said yesterday. "Some people have said, 'If you're using replacement players, then I assume you'll be using replacement prices.'
"It's exactly what you would expect. They are the same as us -- they want that great team back, want it to be as good or better and they want it to be competitive."

nhl- Bettman Backed into a Corner

from slam, After Tuesday's meeting of the National Hockey League board of governors, commissioner Gary Bettman was asked if there had been any significant expressions of unhappiness from the owners.
"I don't believe so," he said.
That was it. No elucidation. No explanation. Just a blank stare that indicated it was time for the next question.
It sounded like a reasonable answer at the time. But a day later, after some of those governors who sprinted out of the meeting with sealed lips had returned to their respective cities, it would appear that Bettman's answer was somewhat off the mark.
Or, perhaps Bettman has a different view than the rest of us as to what constitutes an expression of unhappiness.
Publicly, all the governors present a united front. After Tuesday's meeting, most of the unhappy owners waved at the media and dashed for their limos. When Bettman's pawns came out, they actively sought out the microphones to assure all within range that the commissioner was their own version of Lewis in the FedEx ads.
But in the executive meeting, Bettman was told that no matter what means he has to use, the owners, whether they be weak or strong, expect a full 2005-06 season.
That gives him two choices. He must either get a negotiated settlement or break the union.

nhl- Salary Cap Discussion

from the nypost, Everyone is aware of how the NHL publicized its $42.5M cap offer to the PA on the Eve of the 2004-05 season's Destruction.
Until now, however, the NHL was able to use confidentiality agreements to cloak the accurate meaning of that number, just as the league has utilized similar agreements to mislead individual players and agents — let alone the public and the media — for more than two years.
The Post has learned that the league's offer of a $42.5M team ceiling — that would have included a 50-percent tax beginning at $36M — featured the following elements that the NHL did not release to the public when it plastered the proposal on its various web sites:
All annual individual signing bonuses contained in contracts.
All personal achievement bonus payouts.
All contract buyouts.
All annual signing bonuses for players in Entry Level System.
All players on Injured Reserve.
All players in minor leagues earning over $75,000.
As such, the PA computes the actual NHL-roster cap number as approximately $39M per team — if not less — under the last proposal.

nhl- Additonal Info on Takeover Proposal

from the torontostar, A powerful Wall Street buyout firm and an upstart sports advisory company have made a dramatic joint proposal to buy all of the NHL's 30 teams for as much as $3.5 billion (U.S.).
The NHL, which because of its ongoing player lockout recently became the first major North American pro sports league to cancel an entire season, has said its teams have lost a collective $500 million (U.S.) over the past two seasons.
It's unclear whether many of the league's owners, especially those with teams in large markets like Toronto, Boston and New York, would accept the offer.
Several in attendance said just one of the owners there asked a question of Bain and Game Plan — how the $3.5 billion pot might be divided between owners?
"They told us they had a formula to compensate each owner based on the revenue and assets and size of market of each team," said one owner who attended the meeting.
"I'm not sure how serious you can take the offer because it's an all-or-nothing deal. You need all 30 owners on board to make it work."
If the owners ultimately accepted an offer of $3.5 billion that would put the average franchise value at about $117 million, although large-market teams like the Maple Leafs would be worth far more.

nhl- Player Agents Views

from slam, Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter had some harsh words for NHL owners, eight of whom also own franchises in the NBA - a league that has operated under a salary cap for years but is also facing a CBA renegotiation this summer.
"We're not going to lay down and kill the game just because a bunch of basketball people want their way," he said. "Why are we taking directions from a bunch of basketball executives who only know how to lose millions of dollars, minimize talent and (screw up) TV deals?"
J.P. Barry emphatically stated he would never represent a replacement player. A bold statement, indeed, considering he and Pat Brisson are co-managing directors of IMG's hockey group that represents about 65 NHL players, including Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thornton and Mats Sundin along with junior superstar Sidney Crosby.
"I won't represent a replacement player," Barry said. "I said this before, I said it about four months ago and it hasn't changed."
Barry said he wouldn't change his mind even if his most profitable client wanted to become a replacement player.
"He won't be my client any longer," Barry said.
Brisson, though, was less emphatic when asked what he'd do if Crosby wanted to become a replacement player.
"I can't answer that," Brisson said when asked repeatedly if he'd drop the Rimouski Oceanic star if that scenario arose.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

nhl- The Insiders on TSN

Glen, Brian and Bob talk about the agents meeting with the NHLPA and when the NHL and NHLPA will resume negotiations (will open WMP video).

media- Jason Whitlock had Enough

In a stunning twist in Kansas City sports talk radio, Star columnist and 61 Sports personality Jason Whitlock quit his afternoon talk show Tuesday while on the air.
Whitlock opened his 2-6 p.m. show with a lengthy explanation on the problems he was having trying to divide his time among writing his column for The Star, hosting his four-hour radio show and doing regular work for ESPN while maintaining quality in all endeavors.
Whitlock also suggested strongly that he wasn't getting enough support from 61 Sports to achieve that goal.
After Whitlock's opening monologue, the station went to a commercial break. When it came back from the break, Whitlock had been replaced by midmorning talk-show host Doug Franz.



nhl- Player Agents meet with Goodenow

from tsn, Hockey agents met with union boss Bob Goodenow for four hours Wednesday to get an update on the current state of the NHL labour stoppage.
The meeting, which involved the NHLPA and 67 agents, at a downtown hotel, started at 1 p.m. EST and ended at 5 p.m. It came a day after Goodenow met with NHL players and he said much of the same information presented Tuesday was done so again Wednesday.
''What the agents bring into the room is different but the essence of the meeting was very similar . . . to go through the issues and provide the information and updates,'' Goodenow said.

nhl- 2 Companies Wanted to buy NHL!

from sportsnet, How much would you pay for a 30-team professional hockey league that generates a $2.1 billion revenue stream?
The hitch, of course, is that the league can't find enough common ground with its players to actually play the game?
Nevertheless, sources tell Sportsnet that a pair of high-powered American companies have offered more than $3 billion to buy the NHL. The entire league. Thirty teams and the head office.
As bizarre as it sounds, sources say GamePlan Financial Marketing along with LLC and Bain Financial Capital made a 20-minute purchase presentation Tuesday in New York during the NHL Board of Governors meeting, offering just more than $100 million per team.

nhl- 2 Companies Wanted to buy NHL!

from sportsnet, How much would you pay for a 30-team professional hockey league that generates a $2.1 billion revenue stream?
The hitch, of course, is that the league can't find enough common ground with its players to actually play the game?
Nevertheless, sources tell Sportsnet that a pair of high-powered American companies have offered more than $3 billion to buy the NHL. The entire league. Thirty teams and the head office.
As bizarre as it sounds, sources say GamePlan Financial Marketing along with LLC and Bain Financial Capital made a 20-minute purchase presentation Tuesday in New York during the NHL Board of Governors meeting, offering just more than $100 million per team.

nhl- Still under Pressure

from sportsnet, It was interesting to see the NHL admit they've considered using replacement players in September if the collective bargaining stalemate with the NHLPA continues.
"I think that we can move forward and plan to play a season however it happens this coming year," Edmonton Oilers chair Cal Nichols said when the governors wrapped up their meeting at a Manhattan hotel. "I think that in itself is what our fans want to see, so we'll just see how it works out in the summer. I think everybody still has a preference to work with the union and try to negotiate something and hopefully that's where it takes us."
Read between the lines. The doomsday clock is ticking, again.
The NHL desperately needs to strike a deal with the NHLPA to avoid what certainly would be its worst nightmare. Canceling the 2004-05 season is akin to a walk in the park compared to what lies ahead for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The pressure points for Bettman to strike a deal with Goodenow are many.
First and foremost is the fact that the NHL's deal with American television sports giant ESPN is in play. ESPN has the option to decide by mid-April whether it will carry NHL games next season and why would you commit to carrying a product when you have no idea what the quality of that product would be like?

nhl- Flames Layoffs

from tsn, The Calgary Sun reports that the Flames have given 10 employees their layoff notices this week - some temporary and some permanent - in light of the NHL lockout.
"If you ever find anyone who enjoys that part of the employment process, never work for them," team president Ken King told the Sun.

nfl- Derek Mason A Raven

Wide Receiver Derek Mason has agreed to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

nba- Mo Cheeks Gone

ESPN reporting Mo Cheeks is out as coach of the Portland Trailblazers. Too bad, he seemed like a good guy ever since he helped that young girl out with singing the National Anthem a few years ago.

nhl- Ron MaClean, NHL Wants to Bust Union

from canada.com, National Hockey League owners are attempting to destroy the players' association, CBC sports announcer Ron MacLean said Tuesday.
Speaking at a University of B.C. fundraising breakfast, MacLean said the 167-day lockout is "a union bust, plain and simple."
The popular host of Hockey Night In Canada said he believes the owners want to bring union leader Bob Goodenow to his knees and eliminate his powerful hold on the players and, hence, the game.
"I think what happened is when the league saw the players offer the 24-per-cent rollback, they got a sniff that they had things going their way and they were heartened by it," MacLean said. "Then when they got the cap, the blood was now gushing.
"I honestly believe there is a faction within ownership that has decided 'this is our chance to settle this once and for all' -- not in terms of the monetary concerns but the control concerns, that they could defeat Bob Goodenow."
It's a widely held belief that Goodenow and the NHLPA out-foxed the owners in the last collective bargaining agreement. According to MacLean, it's get-even time for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the hardline owners backing him.
"I think when the owners had the cap, the players had literally caved and it's incomprehensible to me that the league didn't do a deal," MacLean continued. "My only summation is that they have decided 'let's get Bob Goodenow and the union out of the picture, once and for all.'
"I really don't know what option the players have. My theory is that they should have taken the last NHL offer and waited for a better day when the courts might be more friendly or the [U.S.] Congress might be more friendly. So it will be very intriguing to see what the players think their options are."

nhl- Informal Poll - Media Coverage in your Town

How satisfied are you with the coverage your city's media covered the meetings yesterday and the whole CBA negotiations?

The two Detroit major newspapers were weak and very weak in their coverage. The Detroit News had a small, generic report and did not include any reaction from any Wings in attendance and nothing from the management side either.
The Detroit Free Press was even worse, they included a blurb listed under "Other Sports" in the online section of the paper.

nhl- Impasse Reviewed

Once again, if you want to review or try to understand what goes into declaring an impasse, TSN has tried to break it down.

With labour talks providing nothing close to a solution, there is always the possibility of the league declaring an impasse, right?
Well, it's not as easy as it may sound.
With NHL franchises based in the United States and in Canada, the impact of implementing a collective bargaining agreement would naturally be two-fold.

nhl- NHLPA-Everyone is on Board

from the torontostar, When the meeting broke up, the NHLPA made only 10 hand-picked players available to be interviewed while sequestering the others amid tight security.
The scene was in stark contrast to what was expected after talks between the union and the league broke down. But Goodenow went into painstaking detail Monday night on the timeline that led to the collapse and the NHL's offer and the players say they realized that the two sides were much further apart than they had thought.
Goodenow also took the players through the owners' revenue-sharing component, which is almost nil and promises to emerge as a divisive issue in future negotiations. Goodenow also said the league's $42.5 million (all figures U.S.) salary cap was actually closer to about $39 million because the league was including signing bonuses and high-salaried minor league players in that total.

nhl- Meet Your Future NHLers

from the starledger, If the league attempts to play next season using replacement players, it appears teams will have no trouble finding enough guys willing to step in. And that's not even taking into consideration those NHL players who would be willing to cross an anticipated picket line to go back to work.
"I'm under contract to Philadelphia. If the Flyers tell me to play, I'd play," said Josh Gratton, a center for the ECHL Trenton Titans and the cousin of NHLer Chris Gratton. "If it's as a replacement player, no problem. My goal is to play in the NHL."
Trenton Titans goalie Andrew Allen is realistic. He would be 29 years old before next season, has yet to play in the NHL and is still two levels away from the big time.
"I hope it doesn't come to having replacement players," Allen said. "For the sake of the game they need to get playing next fall with the NHL guys. But, from a personal aspect, I'd like to get that shot.

nhl- Threaten Replacement Players

fron torontosun, It was American President Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick." It was National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman who said, "Speak of negotiation, and threaten replacement players."
Actually, Bettman didn't use those precise words. But he could have.
After yesterday's board of governors meeting in New York, he repeatedly made the point that he wanted to get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. And he was very careful not to specifically threaten the use of replacement players as a part of the league's strategy.
But he also made it equally clear that there will be a 2005-06 season one way or another and, if if doesn't take place using members of the NHLPlayers' Association, then it will take place using players from another source -- any source.

nhl- Bettman the Diplomat

from nypost, Gary Bettman's leader ship of the NHL might in itself be an oxymoronic concept, but the fact of the matter is that — likely for the first time throughout the months of labor strife that has engulfed his Moribund 30 — the commissioner emerged as somewhat of a diplomat following yesterday's five-hour Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan.
Yes, the commissioner forcefully suggested that the league would open in October with or without an agreement with the NHLPA. And yes, the commissioner acknowledged that using scabs — he of course prefers the term, "replacement players," and wouldn't you? — is an option potentially available to the league.
But not too much should be inferred from that stance, given that teams can only send invoices to season-ticket holders and attempt to engage sponsors if publicly committed to opening on time next year, refunds with interest to be delivered in installments.
What's the big news, anyway? The implementation and impasse option has never been far beneath the surface of this lockout turned cancellation. That the league governors reviewed a document titled, "Executive Summary — Law of Impasse and Implementation," prepared by advising Proskaur Rose attorney Bob Batterman, does not change the landscape at all.

nhl- WHA an Option

from torontostar, "I think anything is a realistic option at this stage,'' St. Louis Blues defenceman Chris Pronger told reporters at a downtown Toronto hotel yesterday after players met with the NHL Players' Association's executive members.
Dallas Stars winger Bill Guerin said, "We can't rule anything out in the future," when asked about the possibility of a new league being formed, although he hastened to add that the focus right now is on a new deal.
The Ottawa Senators' Bryan Smolinski said he'd be open to giving an alternative league a try as well, a sentiment that was echoed by Los Angeles Kings forward Sean Avery.
"The players are ready,'' Avery said, adding that logistics like investors and sponsorship would need to be fully explored.
Tom Wilson of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was forecasting dire financial consequences for the NHL if the contract impasse isn't resolved soon. He said that in 60 days the "erosion of all revenues'' will begin if no deal is reached and predicted that the $2 billion (all figures U.S.) league could see revenue generated next season drop to $800 million.
Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios said if things stay the way they are, he'd be encouraging players to jump ship to an alternative league next season, possibly one that could link up with a new World Hockey Association. Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick have also expressed interest in playing in the WHA if the NHL is no longer a viable option.

nhl- Quick Quotes

In Toronto, Flyers veteran Jeremy Roenick got up and addressed the room.
"I got up and apologized for any statements I made publicly," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Even though I am an outspoken and have strong beliefs, there are places to do that."

"I told John Muckler that if there's no deal by September, then you're going to have to get yourself another goalie," said Hasek. "That's not what I want ... I want to play, but I can't have this uncertainty for my family."

"Sometimes you're not happy with the team's performance, and you might get in the dressing room and argue a bit about it and discuss what you can do better," Shanahan said. "But when you come out for the next game, you are a team again. And that's what has happened over these (past) two days.

"For there to be no emotion, or have no heated (discussions), is just not who we are," Maple Leafs defenceman Ken Klee said. "If there was no emotion, I would be shocked. We are not robots."

nhl- Are all Owners United

from the globeandmail(reg. req.), As expected, several of the governors from the league's wealthiest clubs, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, made it clear to Bettman they are unhappy a deal with the NHLPA was not reached. Bettman, backed by a group of mostly small-market, hard-line owners, cancelled the season two weeks ago when the league and the union came close but could not agree to a salary cap.
Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. declined to say what Bettman was told by Larry Tanenbaum, the Leafs' governor, but he did say, "it was an effective communication; a good, healthy dialogue."
However, by the end of the meeting, the governors claimed they were all united in their support of the commissioner.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Two sides Must Talk

from the nyt(reg. req.), Ed Snider has owned the Philadelphia Flyers for their entire 39-year history, including their era in the 1970's as the Broad Street Bullies when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Snider has also helped negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the National Hockey League Players' Association.
As he left the N.H.L. board of governors meeting in Manhattan yesterday, Snider was asked whether he would join the negotiations with Bob Goodenow, executive director of the union, to end the bitter lockout that caused the cancellation of this season and threatens the next.
"No," Snider said. "I don't need aggravation from Bob Goodenow. I might jump over the table and try and choke him to death. That wouldn't be good. That's why they keep me out of the negotiations. I'm a throwback to the old hockey."
When asked whether the N.H.L. would hold an entry draft, Bettman's answer was ambiguous. "We won't have a draft until we have the new terms and conditions of employment in place," he said.
Bob Goodenow said additional union meetings were necessary because so many players, more than 300, were playing in Europe. Referring to a resumption of collective bargaining, Goodenow said, "Once we're able to complete our internal communications, at the appropriate time we'll be continuing discussions."

One Deadline, One Deal

This should be a must read for every player and owner.

from espn, NHL owners, you say you're serious about having real, live NHL players in your buildings before you have to use a chainsaw to cut through the cobwebs?
Serious about starting the 2005-06 season on time? Having training camps, signing free agents, wooing sponsors, maybe even having an entry draft?
Then prove it.
Tell commissioner Gary Bettman you want an August 1 deadline, after which if there is not a new collective bargaining agreement in place, the entire 2005-06 season will be canceled.
That's it. No second chances or secret meetings in seedy border towns. No making a deadline with your fingers crossed behind your back, then pushing it back a day here or a day there.
One deadline, one deal.
Then call the National Hockey League Players' Association and tell them.

Two different Views

from ctv, While the two sides in the NHL dispute pronounce themselves united, it was less clear how they would resolve their differences.
Each side met Tuesday, the NHL governors in New York, the NHL Players' Association in Toronto. And each side had a different take on how to proceed since the 2004-05 season was cancelled last month.
Some observers say a priority for the NHL is getting a contract in place to save the entry draft this summer.
On TSN, commentator and former NHL general manager Brian Burke said another reason the NHL might want to get things moving is ESPN.
"ESPN has an option in the U.S. of $60 million US, that's $2 million US per team, and they've got an option comes due on either April 1 or April 15.
"It's clear to me from my sources that if there's not a CBA in place, that's gone."
Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. brewing giant, might follow suit. "Both big holes, both will affect the bottom line," he said.
Commentator Bob McKenzie said options like having an impasse declared or using replacement players were definitely discussed by the owners.

Get Back to the Table

from tsn, The NHL's veiled message to the NHL Players' Association was clear Tuesday.
Get back to the table and negotiate a deal sooner rather than later, or the NHL may try to open shop next fall with replacement players. The owners made no threats, but said if no deal was forthcoming, they would have to look at their options.
And replacement players are an unspoken option.
''I think that we can move forward and plan to play a season however it happens this coming year,'' Edmonton Oilers chair Cal Nichols said after a five-hour board of governors meeting wrapped up at a Manhattan hotel. ''I think that in itself is what our fans want to see, so we'll just see how it works out in the summer.

NHLPA Release

from the nhlpa, More than 150 Players gathered at the Westin Harbour Castle to cover a wide range of topics in regards to Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations to date.
"There was a real good exchange of opinions and ideas," said Ryan Smyth upon the conclusion of the second day of meetings at the NHLPA North American Player Meetings in Toronto. "We examined in detail what the League has offered us. The bottom line is that they haven't given us anything to look at. We know we're all on the same page."
"We hoped to get something done a week and a half ago," said NHLPA president Trevor Linden . "We tried to address the League's issues and we felt we did that, but we are going to try to work and get something that is fair and works for both sides, hopefully sooner than later."
The Toronto Player meetings will be followed by a meeting of NHLPA certified agents on Wednesday, March 2.

If Posting a long url in the Comments

Blogger is experiencing some issues with long links posted in the comment section. It just cuts off the link so if your link does not post properly, I suggest using tinyurl. All you have to do is paste the original url in the box, and you will get a very short url that you can copy and paste into your comment. Sorry for the problem and blogger is working on the problem.

NHL Statement

NEW YORK (March 1, 2005) - The National Hockey League Board of Governors met today at the Westin-Times Square Hotel, after which Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:

"We reviewed with the Board where we are (on matters pertaining to collective bargaining), and we discussed a variety of options that are potentially there for the future without making any decisions as to which options we might or might not pursue -- other than the fact that the option we're most committed to is making a deal with the Players' Association as soon as possible. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can stop the damage, and that's good for everybody associated with the game.

"We, as a League, are committed to working toward opening the '05-06 season, and I hope to encourage the Players' Association back to the table in the immediate future in furtherance of that objective."

Video of All the MeetingsToday

Bettman after the NHL meeting (will open WMP video).

Goodenow after NHLPA meeting (will open WMP video).

The three NHL Insiders from TSN give their views (will open WMP video).

Important to note Brian Burke said if ESPN decides to not renew contract, Anheuser-Busch will follow the direction of ESPN.

Full Recap of NHLPA Meeting

from the national post, While the players emerged seemingly united, frustration and anger were expressed in the closed-door meetings, Linden conceded.
"The mood was good," he said. "Obviously, it was very free-flowing with a lot of questions and conversations. It was a good session, for sure."
But what about reports of raised voices over dinner?
"I wouldn't say yelling and screaming," said Linden. "Certainly, hockey players are passionate guys who care a lot about the game.
"It was really an open forum to ask questions and talk about what has happened and what the future looks like. We did our best to address the questions.

Bettman - Invites the PA back to the Table

from sportsnet, "We're going to invite the union back to the table soon,"he said.
"The more the damage, the less money ultimately we're going to have to pay players. So I think it's in everybody's interest (to reach a deal soon)."
Saving the NHL entry draft has become the top priority since Bettman cancelled the season.

Bettman Comments on NHL Meeting

Bettman had a very stern look on his face. He said the NHL arenas will be open for NHL play in October. He said we would like the current players involved, but we can't force them to negotiate.
Another BOG meeting in 5-6 weeks, gm's will meet before that.

NHL Plotting Strategy

from tsn, The NHL's board of governors met for almost five hours Tuesday, plotting a strategy for the future.
''We had 30 owners who were in absolute unanimity in terms of where we're going to go from here,'' said Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. ''A plan in being developed.''
Wayne Gretzky, managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes, did not make the trip in order to be in Brantford, Ont., with his mother Phyllis, who is fighting lung cancer.
About 110 owners, executives and general managers were at the meeting at the Westin Times-Square in Manhattan, the first board gathering since Sept. 15 when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the lockout.
The session was to cover what has transpired so far in collective bargaining and what the league's ''future business alternatives'' look like as the labour saga drags on and no hockey games are played this year.

Linden - Get More Hockey People Involved

from tsn, More hockey people need to be involved in the collective bargaining process to get the NHL back on the ice, says NHL Players' Association president Trevor Linden.
Lawyers have done most of the talking - and not enough team presidents and general managers, says Linden.
Ironically, it was criticism by Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke of NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow that led to Linden's comments.
Clarke was quoted Monday as saying Goodenow "has done nothing but take away from the game and now he's fighting for power."
"He doesn't want to lose power, he doesn't want to lose his control over the players."
However, Goodenow appeared to be in full control after more than 150 players dined Monday night and met for three hours Tuesday morning.
"The so-called splinter faction in the union that was supposedly going a different direction has been drummed up by a lot of media members and people hoping a deal gets done," said Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues. "Coming out of the meeting I can unequivocally say everyone is on board and understands the issues better."
Mike Peca of the New York Islanders agreed.
"I thought the meeting really reaffirmed the solidarity of our union," said Peca. "We were encouraged to ask questions."

NHL Meeting Over

They plan on meeting in a few weeks but nothing has changed. Good chance another proposal will be coming with linkage included.
Waiting for Bettman or someone from the NHL to appear for the press. Many owners came out of meeting saying there will be hockey next season.

NHLPA is Solid

from tsn, Players emerged from a three-hour NHL union meeting Tuesday, saying solidarity was the order of the day.
"The so-called splinter faction in the union that is going a different direction has been drummed up by a lot of media members and people hoping a deal gets done," said Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues.
"Coming out of the meeting I can unequivocally say everyone is on board and understands the issues better."

Does the NHL Make an Attempt to Meet

I cannot see the NHLPA asking the NHL to meet again in the near future. The NHL has to be concerned about the 2005-06 season in regards to fans, tickets, sponsorship and the draft.
I would expect the NHL to make the next move to get the two sides back at the negotiating table. Will the PA agree or will they make it much harder on the NHL?
I say the PA tells them to meet them at $45 million. The ball is now in the NHLs court.

NHLPA Meeting Over

Meeting ended just after noon today. Basically was a recap of the negotiation process. No formal information available yet.
Also, the player agents are very concerned about what is next for them. Many are worried players will be in a take it or leave it situation when hockey comes back and the they will not have a need for an agent.

update 2pm, it is now being made public that the cap $$$ that the NHL is offering really is around $38 million. They even want to cap minor league salaries at $70k for a player per year.

Breaking Sports Comments

I do not enjoy moderating, or "censoring" the comments, because I believe strongly that people should be allowed to say what they believe.
However, kids read these forums, so we need to behave like grown-ups (yes, I know kids are sometimes the offenders, but they learn by example and it's never too early to learn some respect). There is nothing of value in strings of swear words. I will allow sparing use of a few words, but I will not tolerate its excessive use for shock value. What gets deleted is "soandso is a pig-f#$%er." What I will leave is "I don't like soandso because…" We are all entitled to have and share our opinions.

Cheering for Bettman

from the toronto sun, For those of you who are wondering what will happen at today's National Hockey League's board of governors meeting in New York, here's the answer. It will be a very productive session, with every owner expressing undying support for commissioner Gary Bettman and the masterful way in which he killed the patient to make sure the operation was successful.
At least, that's what they'll say. More or less.
As to what will really happen behind closed doors, that's another matter. Certainly, a number of owners are unhappy with the way Bettman conducted negotiations with the NHL Players' Association. They feel he cost them the significant profits they could have made had he accepted the players' Dec. 9 offer with its 24% rollback and its elimination of a number of inflationary pressure points.
But there won't be any outward show of dissatisfaction. After all, there will be about 90 people in attendance with each of the 30 teams likely to be represented by at least a governor, an alternate governor and a general manager.
In a meeting of that size, leaks are inevitable and no one on the ownership side wants the players to take any solace from the possibility of a split in the ranks. Just to be on the safe side, they may even give Bettman a standing ovation -- and leak that information.

Bettman has made different Promises

from the new york post, The NHL intends to eliminate revenue-sharing entirely — entirely — as league-wide revenues increase. The league assumes that the imposition of a cap will create greater parity and thus, automatically increase the gate receipts taken in by small-market franchises. This, of course ignores empirical evidence from places like Nashville, where, despite a franchise-best 91 points and first-ever playoff berth, the Predators' attendance declined last year for the fifth straight season.
It's clear that Bettman has made different promises to different, and indeed, competing constituencies within the Board. The large-market franchises want to stuff their pockets. The small-market clubs want to suppress payrolls. And so the players are forced to pay . . . and pay . . . and pay.
The Post has obtained the heretofore confidential Feb. 9 NHL revenue sharing model, presented to the PA in Toronto as part of the league's "compromise trigger" proposal. And now that we've been able to review it ourselves, we completely understand all the secrecy.
Analysis of the plan reveals stunning avarice on the part of the NHL's wealthiest franchises — and explains why Commissioner Gary Bettman was able to essentially bribe the big markets into going along for the lockout ride but now faces an insurrection from those clubs as the Board of Governors prepares to meet today in Manhattan.
It also explains why the small markets remain so militantly opposed to unlocking the rinks until the league gains a punitive hard cap.

Lemieux under Attack

from the toronto star, A member of the NHL Players' Association's executive committee suggested yesterday that Pittsburgh Penguins owner and star Mario Lemieux tried to turn the players against union leadership on the eve of their first meeting since the season was cancelled.
Lemieux told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Sunday's edition that he felt misled by the players prior to the failed talks between the two sides Feb.19 and that he and Wayne Gretzky only agreed to be part of the process because players told them that there would be an offer.
Trent Klatt of the Los Angeles Kings, one of seven players on the NHLPA bargaining committee, said Lemieux and Gretzky either received very bad information or are trying to hammer a wedge between the players and union leadership.
When asked why Lemieux would say that he was told the players would be making an offer, Klatt said, "I don't know, maybe to create turmoil, to get guys to question us. They know for a fact that we weren't coming with a new proposal and for them to assume we were, someone gave them some bad information or they're throwing something out there for the sake of throwing something out there. That's them dropping information in the media trying to get us to do something."

Planning for the Future

from the nyt (reg. req.), Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings said he hoped to encourage players to join a rival league next season, perhaps in a coalition with a revived version of the defunct World Hockey Association.
The players have been more outspoken than the owners in part because there are more of them and also because the owners and their top executives risk a fine of up to $1 million for saying anything that displeases Commissioner Gary Bettman. The union has no such penalty.
But one executive, Tom Wilson of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, warned that the two sides had better come to an agreement within two months or risk further harm to an already badly damaged business.
"The erosion of all revenues will start in 60 days," said Wilson, the president of the group that also owns the Detroit Pistons, the N.B.A. champions. "We've lost virtually every sponsor. Are people going to commit to you again with fourth-quarter dollars if you wait until September or October?"
Wilson said a league that generated $2.1 billion last season could produce as little as $800 million next season. "It's just mind-boggling how bad it could be," Wilson said, adding that the owner Bill Davidson would attend the meeting in New York.

NHLPA Meeting Could Turn Nasty

from the ottawa sun, There will be no hockey this season, but there should be plenty of shots fired at today's NHL Players' Association meetings. While NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow and the union's executive committee are going to face tough questions on why they flip-flopped on a salary cap, St. Louis' Chris Pronger, Calgary's Jarome Iginla along with Philly's Jeremy Roenick and Robert Esche will also come under fire.
Senators centre Bryan Smolinski -- who won't be on for the session that started with a dinner last night -- told the Sun several players want Pronger et al to explain what role they were trying to play by calling NHL VP Bill Daly last month during stalled negotiations.
"I know a lot of guys will be asking Pronger and (Roenick) exactly what their motivation was and what they were trying to do," said Smolinski. "If they've got the balls to call Bill Daly, then they should have the balls to stand up in front of us and explain what they were trying to do and why exactly they did it. I'm pretty sure that guys are going to demand an explanation."

Shanahan Thinking of the Irish

from the toronto sun, Brendan Shanahan will be leading this year's Toronto St. Patrick's Day parade, but he has a more significant gathering o' the green in mind. Shanahan, whose mother is from Belfast and father is from Dunmanus, near Bantry Bay, is giving serious thought to managing an Irish national hockey team in the next few years, as he approaches retirement. He would use his influence to find quality North American players of Irish lineage to accelerate the country's hockey development.
"When I've played for Canada, I've seen countries such as Italy and Great Britain and they're all using North Americans," Shanahan said yesterday, as he was named grand marshal for the March 13 St. Paddy's parade. "So why not Ireland? I don't think I would pursue it while I'm still playing (the Detroit Red Wings forward just turned 35), but it's something I've thought of spearheading later on.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Stan Fischler Ramblings

from foxsports, The Edmonton Journal's John MacKinnon on CBA failures: "If it takes one lost season to stop the financial insanity, fine. The good news is the NHL has a once-in-an-era chance to repackage itself. What's more, the conditions are in place for them to get it right."
Agents, who'll be meeting with Bob Goodenow Wednesday should listen to Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province.
"Understand how seriously the union miscalculated its position," writes Willes. "It will never be this good for the PA again."
Reps who care about the game also should listen-up to the Boston Globe's Kevin Dupont because he fingers them as well. "Make no mistake," says the Hall of Fame columnist, "this is on the players. And it's on their agents. And it's on their union."
Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons isn't the only scribe pinning a "bully" label on Bob Goodenow. His Calgary colleague, Eric Francis calls the NHLPA boss, "The bully whose union has had its way with ownership for well over a decade."
Maple Leafs' boss Richard Peddie challenges players' who question owners: "With all due respect to the players," says Peddie, "how many of them can read a balance sheet? They don't know how to read those things, so they are just told what to do."
And guess who tells them?
The Boston Herald's Stephen Harris underlines Peddie's point: "How does a player know that teams fudge the books? Goodenow has indoctrinated that line into their minds."
Interesting question in Detroit: Do the Red Wings re-sign Dave Lewis and his aides, Barry Smith and Joe Kocur? The trio is unsigned after this non-season. Our bet is that they'll be back in Hockeytown.

Bobby Clarke Points the Finger at Goodenow

from yahoo, Flyers GM Bob Clarke has slammed Bob Goodenow on the eve of important meetings on both sides of the NHL's labour mess, saying the union chief doesn't care about the game.
And Clarke says Goodenow needs to look after the Canadian face of the NHL.
"We don't want Calgary to move, we don't want Edmonton to move," Clarke told The Canadian Press on Monday. "And even personally, I was sick when Quebec and Winnipeg moved. Someone has to grab Goodenow by the throat and tell him: 'Look after the Canadian cities, the majority of the players still come from Canada.' It's our sport and to me Goodenow has shown no interest in helping build the game and helping sell the game.
"He's done nothing but take from the game," added Clarke. "And now he's fighting for power. He doesn't want to lose power, he doesn't want to lose his control over the players. And he doesn't want to lose as much of the control he's had over the game over the last 10-12 years. But when he had that power, he ruined it."
Goodenow responded by saying Clarke had no idea what he was talking about.

Arthur Griffiths on Mojo Radio in Vancouver

Arthur says around 250 players will be attending the dinner tonight and NHLPA meeting in Toronto tomorrow. He also mentioned that the people he has talked to said a deal was expected to be made on Black Saturday but something or someone shot it down.
Kelly Hrudy came on and said he has talked to many players and they are so fed up with this whole situation. They told him they will soon agree to play in Europe and with no out clause to come back to the NHL for next year. They are now looking at it as a life change and are not seeing any proposals coming from either side.

Put the Fans First

from the buffalonews, It's time NHL owners realized they're not the only ones appalled by how deeply they've had to reach into their pockets. They think the league's average salary of $1.8 million is out of hand? Then they should know most families of four feel the same way about the average expense of attending a game, pegged at $253 by Team Marketing Report.
If paying Alexei Yashin $10 million or Bobby Holik $9 million gets their stomachs to churning, makes them think that they've been had, then they ought to slip on middle-class shoes and sip a syrupy $5 Coke, or attempt to digest a rubbery $4 hot dog. Same feeling. Nah. Even worse. There's no writing off a hot dog.
Does anyone else notice the mixed message sent when Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs laments the rampant growth in player salaries while his company, Buffalo-based Sportservice, charges $4.50 for a bag of HSBC Arena popcorn with a base cost of what, a quarter? Not that Sportservice is alone. Arena prices are exorbitant nationwide no matter who's the concessionaire. Apparently it's OK for the owners to rip off the fans, but not for the players to rip off the owners.

Branding the NHL

from brandweek, Contrary to popular reports, the National Hockey League is far from dead. And what will ultimately determine the viability of the nearly 90-year-old league will not be labor issues, but a marketing challenge more formidable than the most feared NHL "enforcer."
Six to 18 months from now, hockey will emerge from its self-imposed coma with a new collective bargaining agreement, fewer stars and far fewer fans. That's when the game clock will really start to count down, with commissioner Gary Bettman and the 30 NHL teams having precious little time to lure back fans, lock in sponsors and make the new numbers work.

Anything Can Happen at NHLPA Meeting

from the nypost, It won't save this season, but the NHL players' union meeting that starts today is hockey's best hope to make "Wait 'Til Next Year" meaningful. It could also be a bench-clearing brawl.
While the owners seem hell-bent on sending the NHL the way of the NASL, its Players Association will start what are bound to be two days of wild sessions with a dinner here tonight.
With more than 300 of its players toiling in Europe, the union can expect more than 200 members to show up for the meetings that turn earnest tomorrow. Agents will have their meeting with the union leadership here Wednesday.
There may be calls for union chief Bob Goodenow's head, and there will demands for explanations why the union offered a salary cap at all, countered by demands for reasons why that offer came so late.
Splinter groups who are widely thought to have tried to initiate side talks with the league, players such as Jeremy Roenick and Chris Pronger, are expected to have to explain themselves or be branded Benedict Arnolds.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

When Will the Sides Meet Again

from canada.com, If Lou Lamoriello has his way, NHL labour talks will resume in a hurry after this week's regrouping by both sides.
"My hope is that both groups come out of the meetings and there's immediate negotiations taking place," the New Jersey Devils CEO and GM told The Canadian Press on Sunday.
"To me the key is immediately sitting down and doing everything possible to get it completed," added Lamoriello, a key part of the league's negotiating think tank. "The game is the most important thing."
"I think rather than rushing back into negotiations it will be important for each side to step back and fully assess where we are and how we got here," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said on Sunday. "Obviously all negotiating efforts to date have failed and new approaches may need to be considered by both sides."
The question is whether the players have as much to lose as the owners do if there's no entry draft, if the game isn't re-launched this summer.
So the players' trump card may be to wait it out until August before returning to the negotiating table. The owners will likely respond with veiled threats of smaller paycheques for the players the longer this goes.

Back to the Cesspool

Another great article from Russ Conway via the eagletribune, Welcome to the toxic waste dump of professional sports, the National Hockey League.
Don the radioactive-resistant gear. Grab a Geiger counter. The search through the slime and gook of a lost season for even a trace of common sense continues this week.
The NHL's Golden Pond was a place for entertainment over generations where memories were made, traditions were treasured, and dreams came true. The beauty of a pro game was measured in split-second speed, skill, or feisty heart-and-soul character.
Polluted by overzealous greed, ruining careers and livelihoods, the measuring stick now reeks from the stench of irresponsibility by leaders of the sport. Their failure, turning pro hockey into a shameful disaster, is up for scrutiny again.

How to Unite the NHLPA

from the sun-sentinel, In his next profession, Alan Cohen could do voiceovers for radio shows because this is what the Panthers' majority owner sounded like Friday: The views expressed by Jordan Zimmerman do not necessarily reflect those of the Florida Panthers or their 11-man ownership group.
Zimmerman, one of Cohen's ownership partners and the president of Panthers' holding company, was quoted in Wednesday's Miami Herald as saying, "The players are greedy."
Zimmerman continued: "They are thinking about only themselves, about their pocket books, and not the holistic approach. What did they get into the sport for? Just the money? [Union chief] Bob Goodenow was out to prove a point for himself, and he wasn't thinking about the betterment of the league."
Zimmerman also endorsed "opening with replacement players" in the fall.
Even though NHL owners have been fined for saying less to allegedly damage the process, the Panthers likely will escape a fine because the league has "relaxed" the gag order during the lockout, which has hit 165 days and resulted in the cancellation of the season.
Still, NHL spokesman Frank Brown said Zimmerman received a phone call from Commissioner Gary Bettman about the comments attributed to him, and Cohen was clearly not pleased.

Yzerman Due One More Shot at Glory

from the ottawasun, The Warrior points to the aches and pains of a 22-year NHL career as he sits in a restaurant deep in Detroit suburbia, the sun beaming through the window. Pain. Plenty of it. Neck. Back. Shoulder. Knee. Eye. Injuries that would have sent mortal men scurrying to their hockey afterlives.
But Steve Yzerman played on, sometimes in excruciating pain. With pride. With courage. And with purpose. He knows his NHL career is winding down, but he vows to soldier on. In his own unassuming way, of course.
There's no doubt Yzerman has star power. There's a mural of the Red Wings centre in downtown Detroit. And he can't go far without being recognized. As he walks into Champ's restaurant, the waitress introduces herself and he's quick to say: "Hi, Carolyn." It's a small thing, but it's the small things that say so much about The Warrior's character.
Earlier as Yzerman, dressed in casual black, pulls up to the Troy Marriott behind the wheel of his white GMC Envoy, he apologizes for being late by 20 minutes.
An intensely private man, he doesn't seek the limelight. He draws the line at talking in great detail about his wife Lisa and children Isabella (11), Maria (6) and Sophia (5). Isabella just started playing hockey. The No. 19 wasn't available, so she settled for 20 on her jersey.

Lemieux - Need to get a Deal Done

via the postgazette, Mario Lemieux believes it's critical that the NHL has a new collective-bargaining agreement in place this spring.
If that doesn't happen, he fears there will be massive damage to the league's economic infrastructure.
And while he realizes that getting a CBA in place soon would not instantly correct all that has gone wrong for the NHL since it was shut down by a lockout Sept. 15, Lemieux feels it would help the business regain its equilibrium. And could assure that the pool of money available to NHL players and owners still will be large enough to be worth sharing.
"The players really have to understand that the ability to maximize revenues next year is dependent on reaching an agreement as soon as possible," said Lemieux, the Penguins' primary owner. "Hopefully, they understand that, so we can go out and have our marketing plan and season-tickets [drive] and sell our sponsorships. Have the [June entry] draft, and all the things that need to be in place to maximize revenue.
"The longer we wait, the more challenging it's going to be for us to generate enough revenues. At the end of the day, you can only afford to pay the players so much. The longer we wait, the smaller the pie's going to be and the less there's going to be for the players."

Timeline - Hockey Back in 2006

Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News columnist, presents his NHL timeline.

from the detnews, A week has passed, and you're still numb. Either that, or you just don't care anymore.
I understand completely. So rather than bore you by rehashing the NHL season's sad demise, I'm here to enlighten you with a mildly fabricated prediction of how this absurdity will end.
• March 1: NHL Board of Governors meet in New York; NHL Players Association meets in Toronto. The Hockey News and ESPN, citing sources close to someone who knows Mario Lemieux, report a deal is done and the season will start March 2.
• March 2: It's revealed the Board of Governors actually spent most of the meeting in the hotel game room, smoking cigars and playing video golf.
• March 4: Union executive director Bob Goodenow, in a letter addressed to commissioner Gary Bettman, lowers salary-cap demand from $49 million to $48.95 million. Bettman responds by dropping owners' offer from $42.5 million to $12.3 million, Canadian.
• March 7: Frustrated Joe Louis Arena Zamboni driver Al Sobotka is detained after complaints that his constant resurfacing of neighborhood streets was causing numerous spin-outs.

What is Next for the NHL

from the courierpost, What are the options that lie ahead for the owners? There are three.
1. They can go back to the bargaining table and try to bridge the $6.5 million gap that exists between them and the players on a salary cap.
2. They can move toward declaring an impasse, in which case they could enforce their $42.5 million salary cap and begin the 2005-06 season with any combination of replacement players, minor leaguers or scabs willing to cross the picket line.
3. Or, they can simply leave things status quo and wait out the players to see if they will eventually capitulate. Bridging the gap.