Breaking Sports

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Open Post

With the Easter Holiday Weekend upon us, traffic to Breaking Sports is not as busy as normal. Therefore, this is your opportunity to express your views on any topic you wish. Sports or non-related topics are welcome, post them in the comment section of this thread. Just keep it clean.

I will update if any sports news breaks the next two days, but I do not expect much of anything to happen. For those that celebrate Easter, enjoy the time with family and friends and do not forget the true meaning of this most important Day.

sports media- Fox Sports Net Talks TV

Bob Thompson, president of Fox Sports Net talked recently about his network.
On the NHL- First of all, it's no play, no pay. To the extent that teams aren't playing games, we don't pay rights fees. The flip side to that is we obviously sell no advertising in those games. And depending on how long a work stoppage goes, at some point it will kick in that you have to refund money to your distributors. They pay us a fee on the expectation that they're going to get a certain level of product.
We also save money if there are no games because there are no production fees. There's savings there.
Net, it's probably a financial gain for us. I wouldn't call it a windfall. And I would much rather have the games being played than not have them. We're in the business of televising local sports events.
On the future of the NHL- Yeah, missing an entire season is tough. I've been through a lot of work stoppages, and this one scares me the most probably. The NHL had less room to maneuver. The people who follow hockey are rabid fans, but there are not as many of them. For that reason, you can make the assumption hockey will bounce back quicker. But to the extent it upsets their hard-core fans, then there are serious problems.
I'm not writing the sport off by any means, but it's certainly something I'm concerned about. As we go forward with negotiations, or extensions, renewals of NHL deals, we will certainly watch very carefully as to what the response is upon the time they do finally return.
How are the ratings?- It's interesting. In a couple of places, from a ratings standpoint, we've actually benefited from not having hockey. There are certain markets where you can put on a college basketball game and do a better rating than NHL hockey would do. L.A., Phoenix, Nashville, Raleigh, Florida - not exactly hockey strongholds. The flip side, say in Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, there is a ratings effect.

nhl- Back Playing in September

from the latimes, King President Tim Leiweke said Friday the NHL would return this fall, even though the labor dispute that canceled the season may not be settled.
He wouldn't comment on the use of replacement players, but all signs indicated that would be the NHL's strategy in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' association.
"We're back playing hockey in September. We will have a King season," Leiweke said. "And there's an enormous amount of conviction and planning toward the fan. The fan has become a high priority for us and we can't abuse that trust….
"Fans want to see guys who are hard-working and grounded and decent. Fans want to see a competitive team that works hard. We've got a moment in time here to maybe get sports back on track, and I'd certainly like to do that. I'm excited about it. It's time to get on with it."
"There may be those that fear the future. I'm not one of them," he said. "We're going to make good decisions economically and get a partnership with the fans."

Friday, March 25, 2005

nba- Another Black Eye for Detroit

The Indiana Pacers are making their first appearance at the Palace of Auburn Hills since "fight night" in November. Well, before the game was to start, the Pacer team received some type of threat and the Pacers left the arena on their team bus. The building is on lockdown right now....stay tuned.

update 8:20pm, A bomb threat was called in and the authorities are in the process of making sure the Palace is safe to let the Pacers back into the arena.

update 8:32pm, The Palace has now been cleared and the Pacers who were on the team bus in the parking lot, will be returning soon. The game will probably start an hour behind schedule.

update 9:05pm, The NBA has talked with both teams but neither team has taken the court yet for warmups. The word is the game still is on, but no teams yet.

update 9:10pm, The Pacers were not sure if they wanted to play but the NBA said play the game. The fans were never evacuated and the threat has been ruled a hoax. Both teams have now taken the court.

Link to the story from espn.

nhl- Will NHLPA Make the Next Move

from foxsports, While no new proposal came from the NHLPA following these meetings, NHL VP Bill Daly told the Ottawa Sun that, if nothing was heard from the players Friday, he expected to "hear something next week."
There is plenty of speculation as to what might be coming. The Toronto Sun's Al Strachan suggested Goodenow could make a "last-ditch" offer based upon his jaw-dropping 24 percent salary rollback proposal of last December.
Strachan claims the league's general managers believe they could work under something like that proposal, meaning the PA is, "gradually winning more and more owners," to their cause.
That rollback was unquestionably a shocker and is perhaps Goodenow's trump card should Bettman declare an impasse.
The NHLPA would file a complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the league of bargaining in bad faith. That 24 percent rollback, compared to anything proposed by the league over the course of this lockout, could give the NHLPA leverage with the NLRB.
Perhaps the 30 general managers believe they can work under that proposal, but their opinion doesn't count in this dirty little war between the NHL and NHLPA. It's the owners, the guys who sign the checks, who'll decide. If the rollback could've resolved this dispute, we'd be watching the rundown to the Stanley Cup playoffs by now.
Even if a majority of owners found it acceptable, Bettman would need only eight owners on his side to reject it. It really doesn't matter if the hard liners among them were "isolated," as they'd still hold the power to kill any offer from the NHLPA they and the commissioner found unacceptable.

mlb- Could Johnny Damon be a Detroit Tiger

Hmmm, wishful thinking on my part, but it could happen. Mike Ilitch, owner of the Tigers recently stated he will continue to spend until the Tigers win.
It appears the Red Sox are not going to offer a contract to Damon who is on the last year of his contract. Scott Boras is Damon's agent and the Tigers and Boras have worked well on the Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez contracts. Damon wants to play on a team that makes their spring training home near Orlando where his daughters live.

from the eagletribune, The start of the regular season is a little more than a week away, but Damon begins it in uncertainty. The four-year, $32-million contract he signed with the Boston Red Sox in December 2001 expires after this season, and there has been little communication from the club regarding a new contract for their center fielder.

nhl- NHL Files Complaint Against NHLPA

from tsn, The fractured relationship between the NHL and NHL Players' Association continues to take a turn for the worse.
TSN has learned the NHL has formally filed an ''unfair labor practice'' complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in the United States over the NHLPA's apparent policy that any NHLPA member who were to become a replacement player next season would have to re-pay the lockout ''stipend'' he is currently receiving from the union.
This stipend or lockout benefit figure is estimated to be in the $10,000 a month range per player. Any NHLPA member is eligible to receive the benefit, but media reports have suggested players have been told they would be forced to give back any benefit monies if they became replacement players for the league next season.
Individual NHL clubs received correspondence from the league today informing them of the unfair labor practice grievance that was filed with the NLRB earlier this week.
There is no indication how long it would take for the NLRB to rule on this filing.
Meanwhile, a certified player agent who represents NHLPA members told TSN the league is also ''threatening'' to file another ''unfair labor practice'' complaint against the NHLPA on the issue of player agents representing replacement players.
The NHLPA has indicated to its certified player agents that any agent who would negotiate a contract on behalf of a replacement player next season would be in danger of losing his NHLPA certification. The agent who spoke to TSN said he has been told the league believes that the NHLPA's threat of decertification to the agents is an ''unfair labor practice'' and that the NHL is prepared to file a complaint over it with the NLRB.
But NHL team sources say they've only been notified on the filing of one grievance to this point.
The NHL has made it clear it intends to open next season on time and while the obvious preference would be for a negotiated settlement with the NHLPA that allows the NHLPA membership to return to the ice, the spectre of replacement players looms large for next season.
The filing of an unfair labor practice over internal NHLPA mechanisms (that would make it more difficult for NHLPA members to become replacement players) and the threat of another filing (decertifying agents who would represent replacement players) would appear to be clearing the path for replacement player hockey in the fall.
The NHLPA executive committee just concluded three days of meetings in California. It has yet to officially respond to two league proposals, one of which has a deadline of April 8 attached to it. That proposal is a de-linked salary cap of $37.5 million. The league has told the NHLPA that if it doesn't pursue that type of deal by April 8, the only offer remaining on the table will be a linked deal, at 54 per cent of designated league revenues.
The NHL, meanwhile, has an April 20 board of governors' meeting scheduled, at which time it's expected the league will further discuss the possibility of using replacement players next season.

nhl- NHLPA Ready for Battle

from the torontosun, As the National Hockey League's lockout continues, both sides continue to wrestle with the over-riding question:What next? The NHL governors have narrowed it down to three possibilities. The first option is that they stage a celebration -- giving each other high fives, thanking the players for throwing up the white flag of surrender, and bragging about the huge profit they'll make when they sell their teams.
Since that's not going to happen, they'll look at their second option -- to continue working toward playing next season with replacement players.
The third option? We'll deal with that later.
The counter-strategies of the NHL Players Association are not so clear-cut. There are a number of possibilities and the organization's executive committee discussed them at length this week.
No one who was inside those meetings is revealing their precise content, but there are some people close to the situation who think they have an idea.
It is their belief that NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow has to make one more last-ditch attempt to negotiate a settlement -- still based on a 24% salary rollback.
On that front, one point must be made forcefully, even though you may have heard it before. The NHL's general managers are convinced that they can prosper under the PA's Dec. 9 proposal, or something close to it.
As a result, they are gradually winning more and more owners to their side and the NHL's hard-liners are becoming an increasingly isolated group....cont'd

nhl- League Waiting to Hear from PA

from the ottawasun, The NHL is waiting for a call. League VP Bill Daly told the Sun last night from New York the next move in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement is up to the NHLPA and that call is coming soon.
While it's expected the players will reject the offer of a $37.5-million (all terms US) salary cap made during a meeting last week, Daly said the union's executive committee wanted to discuss it as a group before giving a response.
"If we don't hear anything (today), then I'm certain we'll probably hear something early next week. That's where we're right now. We made the offer and we're just waiting to hear right now how the union is going to react," said Daly.
The players will reject the proposal, but there are rumours they might have a counter-proposal for the NHL.

mlb- Urbina Wants Trade

This article is for the Detroit Tiger fans who frequent Breaking Sports. The Tigers may actually make some noise this year in the AL Central and they have generated some excitement that hasn't been seen in the Motor City for about 15 years.

from newsday, If there was any doubt that Ugueth Urbina was auditioning for the Mets yesterday at Tradition Field, he emphatically delivered the message after leaving the mound. Sitting in the empty visitors' clubhouse, Urbina broke his spring-training silence and made it crystal clear that he wants out of Detroit, with the Mets a preferred destination. Asked if he believes he will be dealt, Urbina replied: "Yes, because I still can close games and we have a closer. I still can close games, and that's what I want. I hope they trade me." "I appreciate all they've done for me, but this is a business," Urbina said. As for coming to a team that already has a closer, he added: "It depends on who's closing for that team. I've done it my whole career." If that team is the Mets, who currently have Braden Looper in that role, Urbina said, "We'll see if they trade me there," adding, "I love New York. I love the pressure."

ahl- Flyers Give Away Tickets

from the delcotimes, Phantoms fans be damned, the Flyers are taking care of their own. That was the message sent this week when the Flyers sent out vouchers to their approximately 16,600 season-ticket holders offering them free club seats to each of the Phantoms’ opening-round home playoff games.
"The NHL has done nothing but preach about their money problems for the past year and now they’re giving away thousands of tickets for free," said Joanne Hays. "That’s not right."
But it’s not just the Phantoms’ season-ticket holder who is getting the butt end of the stick with this promotion.
Hypothetically, if all of the Flyers’ season-ticket holders were to attend each first-round home game and if the series went seven games with four of them being played in Philadelphia, the Flyers would have issued 66,400 complimentary tickets in just four games.
By giving away an exorbitant number of seats for free, the Flyers are simply limiting the amount of possible revenue that can come from games in Philadelphia.
"They’re just going to take money out of our pockets and invest it so they can get more money in theirs down the road," said one AHL player who requested anonymity. "It’s typical. Everybody else gets screwed except the owners."

hockey- What Does Crosby Do

from (reg. req.), Sidney Crosby's agent says he will consider all options for his client - including possibly declaring him a free agent - in light of the National Hockey League's decision Thursday to cancel this June's amateur draft in Ottawa.
"To be an unrestricted free agent, well, that would be the ideal approach, but it's still too premature," agent Pat Brisson said Thursday from his office in Santa Monica, Calif. "If we had our way, it would be that way."
"There are various ways of getting into the NHL, and you don't have to be a drafted player," Brisson said.
He added that if Crosby declared himself an unrestricted free agent and signed with one club, "I'm not sure how the 29 others would react."
Bill Daly, NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer, told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday night that as far as the league is concerned, Crosby can't declare himself a free agent, and no club can sign him without a collective-bargaining agreement in place.
Among Crosby's non-NHL options would be to sign with the start-up WHA, which says it will open play with franchises in North America in October. Crosby already has said he would not rule out signing with the WHA, especially if the NHL lockout continues into next season.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

nhl- NHLPA Meeting Wraps Up

from tsn, The National Hockey League Players' Association wrapped up a three-day meeting with its executive committee Thursday at a Pebble Beach resort in California under a shroud of secrecy. The meeting ended around 9:45 p.m. EST.
The union wants no part of linkage, not wanting to tie players' salaries to a business that has suffered immeasurable damage with an entire season cancelled.
But the "de-linked" salary cap offer has a short life span, with sources telling The Canadian Press that the NHL has given the NHLPA until April 8 to react to it, or else it would be pulled off the table. That would leave linkage as the only option.
The league privately understands the union won't accept the $37.5-million cap offer, but hopes the union will come back next week with a counter-offer based on a salary cap figure both sides can live with.
If not, it gets even uglier with the NHL going ahead with plans to open shop using replacement players in the fall. That subject will be on the table when owners gather again for a board of governors meeting April 20 in New York.

mlb- Bonds Wants to take off Muscle Weight

Barry Bonds wants to get his body leaner and in better cardio shape.

"My family has been incredibly supportive of me because playing baseball is what I've always wanted to do. But there has to come a time when I take some of this (muscular) weight off and forget what other people think or want me to do.
If I want to live until I'm 80 years old, I'm going to have to become a leaner-type, cardio-type individual who keeps his heart rate up. I'm not going to fight that losing battle against my weight when I'm retired and my metabolism slows down."

Read the full article from

nhl- Let's Talk Draft and NHLPA

The TSN Insiders discuss the draft scenario and what the NHLPA is talking about (will open WMP video).

nhl- League Sets Deadline

from sportsnet, The National Hockey League Players Association may be returning with an answer for the league from its three days of meetings at Pebble Beach.
Sportsnet has learned that when the two sides met last week in New York and the NHL presented two offers, that the league also imposed an April 8th deadline.
The league tabled one proposal with a "de-linked" salary cap system and a second proposal with "linkage" to 54% of hockey related revenues. Sources told Sportsnet that if the NHLPA does not respond with either a counter-proposal, or a meaningful desire to re-engage in negotiations, then the "de-linked" version will be pulled off the table.
Meanwhile, Carolina owner Peter Karmanos and Hurricanes executives spent the morning in New York discussing the lockout with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and vice president Bill Daly.
This meeting was considered to be informal and more of an update, not dissimilar to meetings many of the NHL's other teams have requested and attended over the past several months.

psa- Blogging from Mt. Everest

A fellow blogger, British climber Gavin Bate, will be attempting a solo summit of Mount Everest for a charity called Moving Mountains. He is blogging the adventure, so check his site out every few days and follow along on his adventure.

nfl- Saints Coach Admits to Steroid Use

from the postgazette, Jim Haslett went from a 160-pound quarterback at Avalon High School to a 230-pound defensive end at IUP, but he said it wasn't until he reached the NFL that he took steroids.
Haslett, the New Orleans Saints' coach, discussed the rampant steroids use in the NFL 25 years ago at a time when Major League Baseball is attempting to rid that sport of the illegal drugs. He detailed his use of steroids yesterday over breakfast at the NFL meetings in Maui.
Haslett estimated that half the NFL players, including all the linemen, used steroids in the 1980s when they were not banned by the league and legal if prescribed medically. He claimed steroids began in the NFL with the Steelers' players in the 1970s and mentioned Barry Bonds as having tell-tale signs of use.
Haslett said he believes the league long ago gained control of the steroids problem that was rampant when he played.

ncaaf- Building the Big House

HNTB has been awarded the contract to design improvements to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Univ. of Michigan proposed a $165.6M renovation of college football's largest facility that would add 79 suites, 2,000 outdoor club seats, 1,000 indoor club seats, 1,200 regular bench seats and 168 spaces for disabled patrons and their companions. The school's architect estimates that 5,632 seats would be gained in the renovation, which would increase capacity to 113,133 if no seats were displaced by new construction.

music, hockey- Mixing Hockey & Music

Hockey and rock 'n' roll are a match made in heaven, sharing speed, aggression, excitement, teamwork, beer and competitiveness, among other things. In 1999, after noticing the number of musicians who regularly strap on the skates, the folks at Exclaim put together the Exclaim Cup Hockey Summit -- now an Easter weekend tradition in which members of Sloan, Barenaked Ladies, Cowboy Junkies, Rheostatics, The Sadies and many other bands play both hockey and music.
Thanks to the NHL lockout, the stakes are a little higher this year with the addition of Detroit Red Wing enforcer Darren McCarty, who's here to play hockey with the Rubber Road Red Rings and rock 'n' roll with his band, Grinder. And he's pumped.
"Oh yeah!" says McCarty, who promises to let up a tad on the amateurs. "There's a good spirit of hockey and rock 'n' roll, and it'll be fun to play a little competitive hockey again." the full story at canoe...

nhl- Press Release- NHL Entry Draft Events Cancelled

NEW YORK - The National Hockey League announced today that the 2005 NHL Entry Draft events have been cancelled. The events had been scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26 at Corel Centre in Ottawa.
"In the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, we are not able to conduct an Entry Draft in the traditional sense on the dates scheduled," said Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. "We apologize to the fans who had planned to attend this great event or participate in Draft parties both at their local NHL arenas and elsewhere. We apologize, as well, to the City of Ottawa, to the entire National Capital Region, and to everyone who already had put so much time and effort into creating a memorable weekend for the players and their families."
No determination has been made as to when Ottawa will host an NHL Entry Draft, although the League is committed to bringing an Entry Draft to Ottawa as soon as is feasible.
"The city of Ottawa, Senators hockey fans and our corporate partners all were looking forward to showing the hockey world, and our future NHL stars, that 'Hockey Country' would have put on one of the best NHL Entry Drafts this June," said Roy Mlakar, president and chief executive officer of the Ottawa Senators and Corel Centre. "We're sorry that our faithful hockey community will not be able to share their enthusiasm this year, but we have shown our commitment to the NHL that the Ottawa Senators are looking forward to bringing the Entry Draft to the National Capital Region as soon as possible."

nhl- A Few Notes

The LA Times is reporting the NHLPA Executive Committee has been meeting at Pebble Beach this week. Is the next BOG meeting in mid-April planned for Hawaii?

Bill Daly when asked about Todd Bertuzzi reinstatement for the World Championship said it is an International Hockey decision, not an NHL decision.

Wayne Gretzky on steroid use in the NHL, "It's like drugs in life, people who do drugs don't hang with people who don't do drugs," Gretzky said. "People who do steroids don't hang with people who don't do steroids.
"It's something that I never saw, it's something that I don't think is part of our game. But is it totally invisible? Probably not."

The "Scotty Cup"- There won't be a Stanley Cup this year, but there will be a Scotty Cup.
The Buffalo Sabres will highlight some of the best young amateur hockey talent in Western New York with the Scotty Bowman Showcase on April 15 in HSBC Arena.
The event will pit the top high school-age players from the Buffalo area against their counterparts from Rochester. But only the seniors will skate for the Scotty Bowman Cup, which will be presented by the Hall of Fame coach.

Breaking Sports "Down" Early Tomorrow

Just in case some of you plan to visit Breaking Sports very early tomorrow, please note:
There will be a 90 minute outage on Blogger early Friday at 1am (EST). During this outage we will be addressing power management in the Blogger cluster, thus allowing us to substantively increase the number of machines serving the site.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

nhl- NHL Draft in Ottawa Dead

from sportsnet, Sportsnet has learned the 2005 NHL Entry Draft scheduled for June 25-26th in Ottawa is about to be officially called off. The NHL is expected to announce its decision tomorrow.
The future of phenom Sidney Crosby and those hoping to be part of the 2005 crop picked for the NHL draft just got a lot more complicated.
The draft becomes the latest victim of the lockout as both sides in the dispute remain miles apart, both literally and figuratively.
An alternative to the formal draft is being considered. It's believed the league would conduct an electronic selection process either over the internet, a mass teleconference call, or a combination of both.
Sources say Ottawa and the Senators' home, the Corel Centre, may consider picking up the 2008 NHL Draft in lieu of the cancellation.
Crosby, currently filling up the nets in the QMJHL for the Rimouski Oceanic, was expected to be the top pick in the 2005 draft.

So all of the boring hoopla is gone, after the first pick, the buzz in the arena dies down anyways.

nhl- Replacement Issues

from foxsports, The next NHL Board of Governors meeting is set for Apr. 20, at which time it's expected league commissioner Gary Bettman will brief the owners on the latest developments with the negotiations with the NHLPA.
That's not all that'll be on the agenda. It's expected the 30 owners will discuss with Bettman several potential options if it's apparent to them that a negotiated settlement isn't likely for May.
Two of the options would be declaring a legal impasse and stocking their rosters with non-NHLPA affiliated players and those PA members willing to break ranks with the association and return to action for either a full or shortened 2005-06 season.
An option within those would be to hire only those "renegade" NHLPA members who earned less than $1 million last season.
One option receiving the most press of late, however, would have the league attempting to avoid the impasse scenario and instead hire only non-NHLPA affiliated players as replacements for next season.
That is seen by some pundits as the more attractive one for the league, although it's uncertain what the NHLPA's response to that would be.
If the league did pursue this option, it would be indicative that Bettman and the owners aren't confident of avoiding an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board, or else they don't want to have a lengthy court battle with the NHLPA hanging over the ‘05-06 season.

nhl- Bertuzzi, Will Bettman React

from tsn, The Vancouver Province reports that Team Canada general manager Steve Tambellini will investigate the NHL reinstatement application by Todd Bertuzzi with the hope that he will be able to play in the world championship.
"What I want to do is touch base with Todd's agent (Pat Morris) and confirm with Bill Daly and Gary Bettman the fact that we can hopefully get something done toward reinstatement," Tambellini told the Province.
"That would then allow Todd to become a legitimate candidate for a team like this. Todd should be considered, if he's eligible."
The tournament begins Apr. 30 in Vienna and Innsbruck, Austria.

Any guesses what Bettman and Daly will do?

nhl- Laraque Calls for Mandatory Testing

from the edmontonjournal, Edmonton Oiler enforcer Georges Laraque urged the NHL Tuesday to institute mandatory steroid tests and said a league-wide steroid screening by the NHL Players' Association two years ago turned up five offenders.
Laraque said he is personally fed up with the common assumption that he uses steroids -- something he strenuously denies.
"Everywhere I go, people always ask me if I take steroids," Laraque said in a phone interview from Stockholm. "Always. It's because of my size and because I'm a tough guy. It pisses me off.
"I work hard to be this strong and this size and some guys are able to cheat to do it. It's not fair for me.
"I have never taken steroids. I would never take steroids. Even if I tell them I don't, they don't have to believe me because we don't have tests. The NHL should be like the other sports and have a testing policy, to make it a clean sport."

Bettman and Goodenow should immediately issue a joint press release to announce they have agreed to put a strict, drug testing policy in effect in the next CBA. What are they waiting for? This type of story will only get bigger until something official comes out from the NHL and PA.

nhl- Fans React to Blue Ice

Many of you know the NHL is thinking about painting the ice blue, thinking it may help the broadcast aspect of the NHL.
Recently a minor league game was played with the blue ice and some fans sent in their comments to the Buffalo Sabres official website.

"I went to the Amerks game this Sunday, and I have to say that I really liked the blue ice. I also liked the orange that was used for the "blue" lines, if I can still call them that. The only thing that I didn't like was that the goal/icing line remained red, as well as the border around the crease. I think that they should also have been orange. But to make that look good the goal posts would also need to be painted orange. That is my idea... I really liked the blue ice, just change the goal line and the nets and it would be awesome."

"Well, if we're going to change the colors, why not go all-out? I'm not saying I'm against the blue ice, I'm just saying that this can be taken even farther. How about black ice, with neon colored lines, a glow in the dark puck, and tinted glass? And on play stoppages have the whole strobe light thing with pulse-pounding music. Man, I think people would go to the game just for that. Seriously, why not consider it?"

wha- Major Steps Being Taken

from espn, The World Hockey Association continues to edge closer to rebirth.
The league confirmed Tuesday it will hold a six-team, high-stakes tournament in late May at General Motors Place, home of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks.
Additionally, has learned that a group of eastern European investors is interested in buying 49 percent of the WHA and owning one of the fledgling league's top North American franchises when play begins next fall.
It's expected the European group will seek ownership of the Hamilton, Ontario, franchise and will attempt to sign major junior star Sydney Crosby to its roster. Additionally, the group, which is believed to be powerful hockey czars who have already spent lavishly on a professional team in Europe, would take control of the WHA's European division, which is slated to begin play in 2006-07. The group would also be involved in possible expansion by the WHA into Japan.

nhl- Take Steroid Action Quickly

fro the torontostar, The silliest comment you're going to hear in the coming days is that steroids really can't help most hockey players.
What a load. The only NHL player to ever admit to me that he experimented with steroids wasn't a bruising, muscle-bound goon, but rather a skillful forward who was one of hockey's most productive attackers during the 1990s.
Steroids, it's fair to say, could prove at least temporarily beneficial to many, many hockey players looking to enhance their performance. It's not just about adding bulk. You can train harder and longer. You can return from injury more quickly.
Theoretically, steroids could help the 50-goal scorer — remember that extinct breed? — just as much as the goon.
Tennis players, don't forget, have been caught using steroids, and presumably they were taking them because they helped their serve or groundstrokes, not because they were concerned a line brawl might break out at Roland Garros.
If you wanted to get an NHL job at any cost, or if you wanted to grab a share of the millions of dollars available to players in the NHL, steroids might help in the endeavour, and it wouldn't be limited to position. However, there is very little existing evidence in the public realm that would suggest that anabolic steroids are in extensive use throughout the NHL or professional hockey.
"I've seen everything, from cocaine to guys drunk on the street to all kinds of different things," said one long-time NHLer yesterday. "But I never saw steroids."
Fact is, however, the NHL has never really bothered to look or ask.
The time to do so has come.

nhl- Don't Plan on Anything New

from the torontosun, As the executive committee of the National Hockey League Players' Association meets to map out strategy, there is speculation that a radical new offer might be forthcoming. Don't count on it.
The purpose of this meeting is to disseminate information and to plan strategy, not to organize a surrender. The fans who care about this issue, a steadily dwindling number, make a number of assumptions and believe that they have a picture of the situation.
But when you are a member of the bargaining team, whether it be the league's or the player's, your approach is somewhat different.
You aren't looking at the big picture from the outside. You're on the inside and you have a view that features a unique perspective.
A fan, for instance, might see the players' Dec. 9 offer, built around a 24% salary rollback, as being a long-forgotten proposal.
To the NHLPA executive committee, it was then, and is now, the basis for a new collective bargaining agreement.
That's one reason no radical new deal will be offered by the players.
The executive committee feels that it made its big pitch to save the game back in December, when there still was time to salvage the season, and it's not about to move far from that position now.
Within the hockey community -- which doesn't include the businessmen and entrepreneurs who compose the NHL board of governors -- there is widespread agreement with the merit of that PA proposal.
"Do you know of a single general manager who doesn't agree that's a workable concept?" asked a prominent player agent yesterday.
"The GMs all know they can make money under that deal, and the governors should realize that's all they are getting."
Another view that is different when seen from the inside has to do with the cancelled season. The fans interpret that development as the result of failed negotiations.
The NHLPA's view -- which is widely supported throughout the hockey community -- is that the league at no time intended to play the 2004-05 season.
There are mountains of circumstantial evidence to that end, not to mention flat-out off-the-record admissions by NHL governors.
If that's the case, the NHL's executive committee, like its PA counterpart, must also be viewing the situation from a perspective that is not available to the casual fan.
By following its plan and shutting down for a year, the league saved itself approximately $1.3 billion US in player salaries. Granted, it also lost a lot of income.
But commissioner Gary Bettman says his league loses more than $200 million annually. Obviously, most of those losses are borne by the so-called small-market teams which are driving his strategy.
Those teams say they lose more by playing than by shutting down. So now they've saved the money from a year-long hiatus. Their GMs insist they can make a profit if the Dec. 9 concept is accepted.
Does it still make sense to continue the lockout?
It does if their intransigence gets them a hard salary cap. That would drive up the value of their teams and they could then sell them at a profit -- which was their intent in getting into the NHL in the first place.
But if the NHLPA comes out of this meeting as committed as ever to opposing a hard cap, does it make sense to continue to keep their buildings dark?
If the PA finishes its meetings leaving behind any hint of uncertainty about the level of commitment, then those owners may be encouraged to continue on their present course.
That's why a new offer isn't likely to be forthcoming.
It would be seen as an admission of concession.

Start Testing for Drugs or Canandian Gov't Will

from macleans, As Canseco et al. fumbled through their Q&A in Washington, Canadian Minister of State for Sport Stephen Owen was telling Maclean's that he, too, has had enough of the pro leagues' prevaricating. Canada, he noted, will sign a UNESCO convention next fall committing it to fighting doping in all sports. Now the clock is ticking. If the pro leagues operating in this country fail to implement meaningful doping controls after Canada signs, he says, the government will be in a position to legislate. "We've got a major interest, a public responsibility, to make sure this thing is dealt with," he adds.
If Owen sounds gung-ho, it's because professional sports leagues in this country have been flying under the doping radar for years -- despite our national bloodletting over steroids following Ben Johnson's exposure as a cheat at the 1988 Summer Games. When Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer John Kordic died of a cocaine overdose in a Quebec City motel in 1992, steroids were found in his bloodstream. Yet the NHL president of the day, Gil Stein, denied the need for league-wide testing, arguing steroid use was not widespread in hockey.
The current NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, echoed that thought as recently as last December, saying steroids were "inconsistent with what your body has to do to be a successful hockey player." But there are signs that the league is finally snapping its head around on the desirability of testing. An anti-doping policy is part of the current round of bargaining between the NHL and the players' union, and will be included in a deal when (and if) one is announced. In an email to Maclean's, vice-president Bill Daly said the league is seeking a random testing regimen with immediate penalty for a first offence, and escalating sanctions for repeat offences. For now, he added, the issue counts among the least contentious between the bitterly divided sides. "We've had preliminary discussions on the subject," he said, "and we don't anticipate too much difficulty in negotiating a mutually satisfactory [anti-doping] program."

hockey- Playing to Empty Seats

from edmontonsun, It has been dubbed the Ryan Smyth and Friends Charity Tour, but it has become painfully obvious that NHL players have no friends.
At least not in Central Alberta.
The people of Red Deer delivered that message with all the subtlety of a slap in the face last night. The two teams of players were left beet-cheeked with embarrassment when the fans all but boycotted their game at the Centrium.
Nobody came. Nobody cared.
For a second there it looked like one section was trying to start the wave, but it was a false alarm. Turns out one of the two guys was just getting up to use the washroom.
In a building that seats 6,000, the NHLers drew 800 - tops. About 100 of those were parents and grandparents of the 30 atom players who laced up for the first intermission and several others were 2-for-1s. It made a Road Runners game look like Woodstock.
And it spoke volumes about the resentment so many people have for the players they once idolized.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

mlb- More on Barry Bonds

from the nytimes, Wed. edition (reg. req.), After 19 major league seasons, 7 Most Valuable Player awards and 703 home runs, Bonds, baseball's ultimate armored vehicle, finally appears to be breaking down. Not only is he struggling to recuperate from his second knee operation in two months, he also sounds as if his psyche is deteriorating faster than his body.
During a 10-minute news conference with reporters yesterday at the San Francisco Giants' spring training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., the 40-year-old Bonds, who was on crutches, used the word "tired" 14 times, broached the subject of his retirement and raised the possibility that he would miss this entire season because of ailments mental and physical. He alternated between sounding melodramatic and despondent.
"Right now I'm just going to try to rehab myself to get back to - I don't know - hopefully next season, hopefully the middle of the season," Bonds said.
"My family is tired, I'm tired. You guys wanted to hurt me bad enough; you finally got there."
It was clear that Bonds was talking less about his knee injury and more about recent accusations that have probably been more painful. This week, Kimberly Bell of San Jose, Calif., said that she had a nine-year relationship with Bonds. She said that Bonds had told her he used steroids and that Bonds gave her $80,000 he received from signing baseballs. If Bonds did not report that income, Bell's assertions could prompt an investigation into tax evasion, a crime that has befallen other sports stars.

nhl- What May Happen During NHLPA Meeting

Glenn Healy tells us what may be happening in the NHLPA Executive Meeting going on in Toronto (will opwn WMP video).

sports media- Tilt Beats NHL

The inaugural season of ESPN’s “Tilt” averaged a combined 0.97 Nielsen cable rating for airings Sunday and Thursday from 9:00-10:00pm ET, up 28% over the 0.76 during the same period in Q1 ’04, “when ESPN mostly aired NHL games,” according to R. Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News.

Other media news:
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and ESPN NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith has signed a multi-year deal to host a weekday radio show from noon-2:00pm ET on WEVD-AM in N.Y., an ESPN station. The show “will not air on other ESPN stations” and is expected to start in the next three weeks. Smith: “My intent is not to limit the radio show to just the N.Y. area.” Meanwhile, the debut of Smith’s ESPN, “Quite Frankly,” has “been delayed from June until early August.”

ESPN will air a six-part reality series on Heat Center Shaquille O’Neal, called “Shaq: 24/7,” beginning in May.

nfl- Permanent Super Bowl Site

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that the Dolphins will propose “making Dolphins Stadium a ‘permanent facility’ hosting two weeks of activities before future” Super Bowls.
The plan includes “playing the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl at Dolphins Stadium as well as the construction of pavilions that would host visitors and sponsors.” Tagliabue said that the potential of the Super Bowl “to become a several-week event with a celebration of football is a very exciting prospect.”
Dolphins Enterprises CEO Joe Bailey said that the scope of plans to privately-finance the project “would likely be influenced by whether the NFL agrees to deem the area a permanent Super Bowl facility.” Tagliabue said that other cities “would still host Super Bowls but a permanent facility would have a regular spot in the site rotation.” Tagliabue, on how a permanent facility would change Super Bowl entertainment: “The stadium would be sacred turf. All the game-day entertainment would be outside the stadium. The field on game day would be a clean field focused entirely on football. The pregame and halftime shows would be at another part of the complex”.

nhl- Will the NHLPA Remain Stubborn

from Stan Fischler and foxsports, How much do National Hockey League players really want to save the NHL as we know it today?
The answer will be forthcoming some time between Tuesday and Wednesday when the NHL Players' Association holds another of its "war games" at the union's Toronto headquarters.
Under consideration are a pair of league offers made last Thursday, which have been digested for the past few days by NHLPA strategists.
The first is highlighted by a $37.5 million salary cap but with no linkage between revenues and salaries. The second features a linkage plan, which has been denigrated by players' leader Bob Goodenow.
According to the NHL, the fixed link proposal is highlighted by a 54 percent link between player costs and league revenues. Players would get 54 percent, ownership the rest.
While both offers are less than the previous ones delivered by commissioner Gary Bettman, they still bear attention if only because of the league's warning — and follow-through.
Bettman made it clear when he cancelled the 2004-05 campaign last month that the league's last offer ($42 million cap) was not only off the table but that subsequent NHL initiatives would be worse.
The drop from $42 million to $38.5 million merely proves the point.
"And it will continue to get worse the longer the players refuse to make a deal," a league official tells me. "As our revenues diminish, so do our offers to the union."
Whether this message will sink in with the NHLPA executive committee is doubtful.
The committee, comprised of militant spokesmen for Goodenow, has over a period of seven months, betrayed nothing more than a belligerent attitude toward Bettman.

mlb- Barry Bonds Press Conference

Just held moments ago, Bonds said he is just tired. Will try to rehab his knee and may get back to the game sometime this year or next.
He is so tired, says the media has finally got to him and he has had enough. Blaming the media, says he is so tired of it, says he wants to enjoy time with his son. Says he is 40 years old and getting tired.

Could this be the end of Bonds?

update 2:20pm, ESPN now commenting on the story.

nhl- More on Drug Abuse in Hockey

I just have a feeling this story is going to get bigger and bigger. As someone pointed out in one of the comments yesterday that Bettman will make Daly handle this situation, you are correct. NHL executive Bill Daly said in a statement yesterday the league hopes to negotiate a drug-testing program with the players' association.

from the globeandmail (reg. req.), Former hockey enforcer Dave (Moose) Morissette says steroids and stimulants helped end his modest career.
And he hopes to warn young players off performance-enhancing drugs by telling all in Mémoires d'un dur à cuire (Memoires of an Enforcer), co-written by Montreal La Presse hockey writer Mathias Brunet.
He says use of steroids and stimulants is common in the National Hockey League, but does not name any players who used them. The league does not test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Use of such drugs in sports has been in the spotlight lately because of the allegations in a recent book by former baseball slugger Jose Canseco.
"I don't want to tarnish my sport with this book, nor to point the finger at any individuals as the baseball player Jose Canseco recently did," Morissette writes at the end of his 183-page book. "I just want to make my little contribution towards stopping these dangerous practises.
Defenceman Stéphane Quintal of the Los Angeles Kings said at the book launch he'd like to see a tough testing program. He spent the season in Italy, where a doping offence carries a two-year suspension.
"There's no first offence or second offence, you're gone," Quintal said. "The NHL should come out with something like that -- like the Olympics."
When asked if doping was common in the NHL, Quintal said: "Sudafed is something a lot of guys use, but steroids, I've seen it a couple of times but on tough guys, but not on skill guys."

nhl- Sharks Pres, & CEO Greg Jamison Q&A

from insidebayarea,
Q. How sure are you that there will be hockey in the fall?
A. We are completely and totally planning on playing hockey next fall. This is based on a number of things. We lost a season. We've had meetings and plans on what we need to do. We'd like to get a deal done right now with the NHLPA and work together with them to rebuild the sport.
Q. The NHL isn't as popular as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. Thus has hockey really hurt itself with the canceled season?
A. Canceling the season didn't do anything to help. There is an impact of varying opinions. Some say it's devastating. Some say it will come back. Everybody plugs in a different point. I believe strongly that we have to resell the game, bring our fans back, and to get new fans through even more group sales, advertising and promotions.
Q. You've had strong attendance in San Jose. Can you regain it after a year's absence?
A. I firmly believe that, if we do it right, we can build back attendance to what we had before. That means communicating with our fans, letting them know what's going on, continuing to enhance the game.
Q. Were both sides, owners and players, at fault?
A. Well, I think that would be a gracious thing to say, but I truly don't believe it. I personally am frustrated with the lack of workability on the other side. There has to be an understanding of the economics, and I didn't think it was there.

nhl- NHLPA Meeting In Toronto

Team 590 Radio out of Toronto is reporting the NHLPA executive meeting is underway in Toronto. They also are reporting the PA will be working on a new proposal to present to the NHL and it may be given to them by Friday.

update 12pm, Toronto — The National Hockey League Players' Association began a three-day meeting with its executive committee Tuesday to plan its next move.
President Trevor Linden was joined at an undisclosed city by executive committee vice-presidents Bill Guerin, Vincent Damphousse, Bob Boughner, Arturs Irbe and Trent Klatt.
Also present was NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, associate counsels Ian Pulver and Ian Penny, director of business relations Mike Gartner and outside counsel John McCambridge.
No media availability is expected throughout the three-day gathering. The NHLPA was offered two proposals by the NHL last week and may use the meeting to come up with a counter-offer.

nhl- Use Common Sense

from espn, Common sense is that both sides in this mess should be acknowledging that it behooves both sides to get this done, and get it done quickly, to -- and this is stealing a line from commissioner Gary Bettman -- stop the bleeding.
Yet, the brinksmanship continues.
And so does the silliness -- on both sides of the table. It's bipartisan. We still have very intelligent men acting as if this is some sort of playground squabble. Tongues are sticking out. Lines are drawn in the sandbox, right in front of the marbles. Saving face still seems to be a major consideration, and we're not talking about getting stitched up after a fight. It all raises questions about motives, especially from the league side, because nothing has happened to eliminate the suspicion that a cabal of hard-line owners essentially scuttled any chance of compromise.
But again, one of the most darkly comic aspects of this dispute is the mistaken notion that any criticism of either faction means we're "taking sides."
Here's the side we're taking: neither.

Monday, March 21, 2005

nfl- CBA Negotiations at a Dead End

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told owners in Maui today that CBA negotiations are at a dead end. He warned the owners that a lot of hard work lay ahead, and said half-jokingly that they would not see the beach during the four days of this week’s owners’ meetings. The meetings run through Thursday. The CBA expires in ‘08, but the league’s policy has been to redo it far in advance.

nhl- Stimulants in Hockey

from cbc, While the media spotlight has been focused squarely on the alleged steroid use in baseball, a former NHL tough guy says hockey has its own doping problem.
Dave Morissette, who played a handful of games for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1999-2000 season, claims the use of stimulants is rampant in hockey.
Morissette alleges hockey players abuse ephedrine-based, over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed and Ripped Fuel in a book by journalist Mathias Brunet. Mémoires d'un Dur à Cuire, which chronicles the enforcer's 12-year hockey career is slated to hit the shelves on Monday.
"The majority of the guys had their pills," Morissette is quoted as saying in Montreal's French-language daily newspaper Le Presse.
"It wasn't a big deal. It was pretty common to take pills before a game. It didn't bother anyone."
An amphetamine-like stimulant, ephedrine makes the heart beat faster and increases blood pressure, allowing athletes to avoid fatigue and increase their performances during bursts of powerful effort.
he NHL currently doesn't have a policy against the use of stimulants like Sudafed. Morissette says the problem will persist, and could grow worse, if the league continues to turn a blind eye.
"As long as there's no penalty, those who aren't using drugs will feel handicapped.
"When a you go to fight a guy, and that you know he's taken five or six [pills] you are afraid. You think that you'd better take some too."
As for steroids, Morrissette didn't say whether they are a problem for hockey, but he does admit using muscle-building drugs to bolster his chances of earning a spot in the NHL.

nhl- A Former Player Comments

Bob Corkum, a former NHL player, gives his opinion on the CBA contract talks.

The Season of Deception...
I am first and foremost a hockey FAN. Infact, I spend more time in the rinks now then I did when I was playing this great game. I coach hockey now, still play and my new career involves helping young players reach there academic and athletic goals. I love and miss this game more than I believed was possible !!
I know there are hundreds of thousands out there who miss hockey as much as I do, and to them I would like to say, " hang in there, NHL caliber hockey will be back, although, looks like later than sooner". We all can find some comfort in watching the up-coming NCAA Tournament, supporting our local junior and youth hockey leagues.
Has Gary Bettman ever played a real game of hockey, a real game of anything ? Has he ever broken a sweat on a feild, court or rink ? My guess is no. He is well into the third period of a game where there will be no winners. everyone loses, especially the fans.
Everyone is agreement that the owners are at fault for the state we are in, even the owners themselves. the players have given, and given throughout this whole fiasco. Were salaries escalating out of control ? Yes, the players agree. In came the 24% rollback. That made it clear that the players were willing to actually sit down and negotiate, something the NHL has been reluctant to do even today. Instead, Gary and the league want the public to think that the players are greedy and killing the game and the small markets.
Let's go back two proposals ago. The leagues offer of a 42.5m team ceiling, that included a 50% tax beginning at 36m, is what was offered and posted all over there web-sites. What was not released to the public is this, the cap would also include :
- All annual individual signing bonuses contained in contracts
- All personal achievement bonus payouts
- All contract buyouts
- All annual signing bonuses for players in the entry level system
- All players on injured reserve
- All players in the minors earning more than 75,000
This is certainly the definition of selective disclosure. with all the add-ons that Gary did not think you the fans were privy to, the actual NHL-roster cap number was about 39m.

hockey- Gretzky says no to Hockey Canada

from tsn, Citing concerns for his mother's health, Wayne Gretzky will not be bringing his golden touch to Canada's entry at the upcoming World Hockey Championship.
Vancouver Canucks assistant GM Steve Tambellini will serve as Canada's general manager with Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland as his assistant.
Gretzky, who led Canada's gold medal winning teams at both the 2002 Olympic Games and the 2004 World Cup, informed Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson of his decision on Monday.
"In the end I was really torn between wanting to do it and concern for my mom," Gretzky told TSN Monday. Gretzky's mother Phyllis was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February, and has begun chemotherapy treatment.
"I love the game so much, and I have so much respect for Bob (Nicholson), but in the end, it kept coming back to my mom," Gretzky said.

nba- Paul Silas Fired

from espn, Paul Silas was fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday with his team fighting for a playoff spot after being in first place earlier in the year.
Silas told The Associated Press he was called in Monday morning for a brief meeting with general manager Jim Paxson and new owner Dan Gilbert.
"They released me," Silas said. "They didn't think the team was performing as well as it should be and they wanted to make a change."
Despite having league superstar LeBron James, the Cavaliers have struggled since the All-Star break, losing seven of 10 and nine straight road games, including Sunday's 105-98 loss to Toronto when James scored a franchise-record 56.
The team also fired Silas' son, assistant coach Stephen Silas. Assistant coach Brendan Malone will be the interim head coach.

nhl- Bettman wants to Crush Goodenow

This article is from RDS and is translated from French into English. The author of the article believes Goodenow will discuss calling in mediation on behalf of the PA.

Thursday, the police chief of the national League made the proof that it has only one goal. That to crush the Association of the players and especially his leader, Goodenow. He seeks confrontation constantly and it enjoys to cause its rival by depositing offers based on projections and not on reality.
That the incomes of the national League are on the point of taking a serious retreat, it is extremely possible. One does not close a company during one year, as Bettman made, without undergoing the consequences of them. But how can one evaluate these losses without point of reference? How can one say as that that the incomes of the league will be reduced of $800 million because of the lockout? On what does base itself one? It is supposed that the steps will be with half occupied as a Caroline, in Washington, in Florida, in Atlanta, perhaps even in Boston, gold, Si I remember well, because that done one maudit end of time that hockey of the LNH was not seen, it did not have there many seats occupied in these amphitheatres before the lockout.

mlb- Trouble Ahead for Bonds

from the nydailynews, A woman claiming to be Barry Bonds' longtime girlfriend has been pulled into the BALCO investigation, another sign that the Giants star is under investigation for possible perjury or financial wrongdoing, as the Daily News first reported two weeks ago.
Her testimony is believed to be be part of a case the federal government is pursuing against Bonds for perjury.
"Things look very bad for him right now," a senior Major League Baseball official said yesterday.
Bell's attorney also raised the possibility yesterday that Bonds could be investigated for either money laundering or tax evasion. "It's clear from the subpoena that they are looking at Barry Bonds and the possibility he may have given untruthful testimony to the grand jury," attorney Hugh Levine told the Chronicle. "And the case is being investigated by an IRS agent, and that speaks for itself."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

mlb- Baseball Drops Fine Issue for Steroid Use

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball players and owners agreed Sunday to drop the possibility of fines for steroid use, leaving suspensions as the only discipline.
Congressmen repeatedly criticized baseball for the fine possibility during Thursday's hearing before the House Government Reform Committee. Management officials told the committee they were willing to eliminate the fine provision, held over from baseball's first drug-testing agreement in 2002, but union head Donald Fehr had said he would have to consult with players.
"We do have an agreement with Don that the language after the disjunctive in the various disciplinary levels is going to be eliminated," Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said Sunday. "It will be just the straight suspension, which everybody knew was going to happen anyway. To the degree there was any doubt, I think this change should put to rest any concerns in that regard."
Players and owners announced the agreement Jan. 13 but it has not been finalized.
"The agreement still has to be ratified, but the negotiators have agreed to modify that language," said Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel.
Commissioner Bud Selig repeatedly said during the hearing that his intent was to suspend players for all positive tests.
"We're glad the policy is now closer to what it was purported to be," David Marin, spokesman for committee chairman Tom Davis, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

nhl- Financial Meltdown

from usatoday, In 1999, Ted Leonsis, an America Online officer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, knowingly made the stupidest investment of his life.
He put his money into the National Hockey League, buying the Washington Capitals for $85 million — "cash, because it was unfinance-able," Leonsis says. The league's business model was already so broken that Leonsis planned to lose $15 million a year for the next five years. "And we've lost more, so we're ahead of plan," he says with gallows humor.
In the postmortems to the NHL's canceled season, the story of how the NHL has come unraveled as a business has gone largely untold. Understanding that history — and avoiding the same errors — could be crucial if the NHL hopes to re-emerge as a healthy sports league.
The NHL under Commissioner Gary Bettman — in office since 1993 — provides a lesson for any business about the pitfalls of growing too fast and getting painted into a strategic corner. In short, the NHL is an 88-year-old league that wound up like a dot-com disaster.
Bettman ultimately lost the entire 2004-05 season — the equivalent of, say, United Airlines shutting down for a year to try to get its costs in line. The NHL canceled its season in February, after talks with the players' union broke down. Bettman and the owners felt it was the only way to fix the league's financial system. It's the only time in history that a major sports league has shut down a whole season.

nhl- Replace Bettman & Goodenow

Anoter must read from Russ Conway of the eagletribune, Anyone who sticks around long enough knows the score when it comes to the key intangible ingredient of any great team in pro sports: Chemistry.
A locker-room full of superstars, full of themselves, can fizzle out faster than a glass of Alka-Seltzer (see N.Y. Rangers, N.Y. Yankees). And so can conference rooms full of professional lawyers and executives.
Which brings us to the ongoing contract mess between negotiating teams representing National Hockey League club owners and the players union.
It doesn't take rocket science to see that these two groups, led by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on one side and Players Association boss Bob Goodenow on the other, have turned into nothing but a mix of water and gasoline.
Backfiring combustion, a bunch of hot air, and no traction, that's all that the two blabbering factions have produced in three-dozen meetings spanning better than two years of so-called negotiations.
How do you meet 36 times for hours, days and nights on end, over a two-year period and still hold up the "No Progress" sign as if you were some limo chauffeur waiting at the airport terminal, looking for a lost customer?

mlb- Test While Weighing In

from Mitch Albom of the detroitfreepress, If beakers were scales, we wouldn't have a steroid problem.
Baseball players get weighed all the time. So do football players and basketball players. If they are overweight, they can be fined. If they stay overweight, they may be cut.
No athlete has ever complained about being weighed, as far as I know. No athlete has ever hired a lawyer to keep his weight a secret, or taken the Fifth Amendment to hide his weigh-in results.
If drug testing were viewed with the same laissez-faire as weighing-in, we would have no congressional hearings, no legal tap dancing, no Barry Bonds or Jose Canseco frenzies. So why isn't it? For the life of me I can't understand, if you are truly interested in fair competition and protecting your personnel, why stepping on a scale is any different than urinating into a beaker. Sports are physical. That's why players are weighed, tested, stopwatched and examined, head to toe, before every season, by a physician. Bodies are the investment. You wouldn't run a factory but refuse to check the equipment.

nhl- Sharing not Included

from Larry Brooks and the nypost, The hard-cap offer to the union was re duced, and so, as a matter of course, the NHL's projected revenue-share pool shrank.
Understand this in its entirety: The league has no intention of spreading the accumulated wealth of its healthiest franchises to those most acutely in need of economic transfusions. The league has no plan to adopt even a pale facsimile of the collective bargaining agreements that have enriched small-market clubs in football, basketball and baseball.
Slap Shots has learned that the NHL on Thursday refused to include details of its amended revenue sharing plan in the regressive proposals that arrived DOA on the PA's doorstep, instead providing only vague references to past offers and philosophies.
With the de-linked proposal reduced by 11.76 percent from $42.5M to $37.5M per club, it's logical to expect the revenue share pool to diminish at that rate. According to the league's Feb. 9 revenue-share model, the pool would thus be reduced from $88.9M to $78.45M — with the regular-season portion sliced to a Year One total of $37.86M that would diminish and eventually disappear over the course of an agreement.
In a league in which individual club incomes range between Toronto's high of $117.3M and Nashville's low of $40.6M as reported by the NHL to the PA, and in a league in which revenue disparity of the top five teams against the bottom five teams equals 230 percent (as opposed to 150 percent in football, 180 percent in basketball and 190 percent in baseball), this is no way to ensure economic viability of all its clubs.
This lockout is not about spreading the wealth. Indeed, according to the NHL's Feb. 9 model, the league's projected six most profitable franchises — Toronto, Detroit, Dallas, Colorado, Philadelphia and Montreal — would account for 88 percent of the league's regular-season operating profit. That's one-fifth of league accounting for nearly nine-tenths of the profit.
And for this, the league canceled a season? And for this, the league is willing to forever tarnish its brand name by playing next year with lower-tier replacements?
Shame on the Red Wings and on the Maple Leafs, and shame on the Flyers and on the Avalanche and on the Stars for allowing this to proceed with their stamp of approval.

nhl- Up Close & Personal

from the philadelphiainquirer, Anyone even remotely familiar with Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock can sense that he prefers to micromanage. And that he relishes being on top of everything going on around his team.
Hitchcock believes if ESPN or national networks were permitted to come into the dressing rooms between periods of games, it would add a new dimension to telecasts and perhaps lure the casual fan into becoming a permanent hockey fan. He also advocates doing the same behind the bench during games.
These are radical ideas, but perhaps not as radical as eliminating the red line, which will be seriously discussed by the general managers next month in Detroit.
"After watching other leagues play, minor pro leagues and the NFL, I think when hockey comes back, we need better access," Hitchcock said. "I think the fans want more access to players through knowledge of what goes on in the locker room and on the bench. For us, to get people to have a better understanding of what goes on in hockey, we need better access."
"I know this will make NHL people uncomfortable," Hitchcock said. "But in my discussions with people in the NFL, they told me it was uncomfortable for about seven games. And now, they don't know the cameras are there. They operate like it's not there. I really feel that access to players and coaches is everything for the fans. Allowing people to have access to what we do and say at times behind closed doors is necessary for our game.
"If we are trying to sell and market this game, access is a big key. In the NFL, some of those presentations on NFL Films, you are hanging in the huddle or sitting on the bench. You are literally part of the game in the NFL. That is pretty important stuff as a fan."
Hitchcock believes that can work in the NHL because, he says, "Hockey players are the most approachable athletes in the world.
"They are confident and well-spoken and exposed to media from age 15 and up," he said. "And they have strong family roots. They know their values. They're good people. We ought to let the public see that through better access... . This is the more emotional of all the sports and the public doesn't see much of it behind closed doors. Maybe start NHL Films. It's a great way to sell our game."