Breaking Sports

Saturday, April 09, 2005

nhl- These Could be the Changes

from the mercurynews(reg, req.) via the philadelpiainquirer, The NHL has gained a reputation in recent times as a league that can't seem to make up its mind on its rules.
What constitutes obstruction in October isn't always obstruction come playoff time in April.
What was refreshing about last week's two-day meeting of league general managers on rules changes is that the league isn't going to make wholesale changes that would tamper with the sanctity of the game.
The nets aren't going to be enlarged. And believe us, if you could have seen how big the prototypes were, you would have been aghast. One net was 13 percent larger. Another was 17 percent bigger. A third was 21 percent larger.
"Marty Brodeur claims it would add three seconds for a goalie to cover post to post," quipped Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations, referring to the goalie for the New Jersey Devils. "We never got into discussing the nets. They were there to show our people (what they looked like). It's a route to go if we decide on being non-traditionalists."
The general managers finally seem to recognize that the game needs a healthy dose of scoring injected into it. And instead of doing something inept like enlarging the nets, they are doing something rational - reducing the size of the goalie equipment.
The article goes in-depth of the possible changes, well worth the read.

nhl- Some GMs not keen on Replacement Players

taken from Al Strachan article in the Toronto Sun.
  • When Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe was asked about the matter, he dodged it, saying with a smile, "I'm still trying to build a regular team."
  • Another GM, whose team finished in the bottom half of the league, laughed and said, "I was using replacement players last year."
  • Yet another GM just chuckled and said, "You're not going to get me to go there. You work that one out for yourself."
Many of the GMs were players themselves and even though they have made the switch to the management side, they have not forgotten the disdain that they would have had for replacement players.
To get an idea of their feelings, you merely have to ask one question: "If the league decides to use replacement players, would you let those guys wear your regular sweater, or would you bring in a different version?"
A number of GMs have been asked that question. Not one wanted to answer it. To them, the sweater and the team crest it bears is sacrosanct. They're fully aware that if they let replacement players wear that sweater, its stature is demeaned and when the regular players come back, they could never again wear it with the same degree of pride.

nhl- A Better Feeling Exists

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun, For the first time in years, there is a sense of optimism in the National Hockey League. Even long before the owners' lockout plunged the game into darkness, most observers were pessimistic, fully aware that the outlook was bleak.
But after two days of meetings here, the clouds seem to be starting to lift. The sun certainly is not shining yet, and there are no tangible developments that would indicate the lockout will end at any time soon.
But there is clearly a new spirit of co-operation and a sense that somehow, a deal will get done in time to start the 2005-06 season.
"I thought these meetings were fantastic," Ottawa Senators general manager John Muckler said, echoing a widely held sentiment. "As you listened to it from both sides, with people talking about various things, you did start to get the feeling, 'Oh my God, we're working together here.'
"It was good to have the players here and I think they enjoyed being here. The talks were productive."...continue on...

Friday, April 08, 2005

nhl- Let's Review

from tsn(will open WMP video), a review of the last two days including interview with Bill Daly. Also, Bob McKenzie gives his views on such topics as the playoffs, the draft and other topics related to the meeting.

nhl- Who Gets #1

from msnbc, After months of heated discussions with the players’ association, NHL general managers ended two days of meetings bickering among themselves.
The six-hour, closed-door session between the GMs on Friday dealt with how to handle a draft that follows a season that never was and who deserves a shot at Canadian phenom and expected top pick Sidney Crosby.
“The temperature got high very quickly,” New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury said, describing the brief but “heated debate” that he believes will be settled by commissioner Gary Bettman and the league’s board of governors.
One of the proposals under consideration involves having all 30 teams enter a lottery for the first pick, an idea none too popular among teams that finished the 2003-2004 season at the bottom of the standings.
“It certainly has the tendency to be a difficult issue,” NHL executive vice president Bill Daly said following the meeting at an airport hotel near Detroit.
Usually, the draft order is set based on the previous season’s standings, but that is not possible this year.
Washington won last year’s draft lottery, after finishing with the league’s second-worst record, and grabbed Russian sensation Alexander Ovechkin with the No. 1 pick. The Capitals would love the chance to go first again and add Crosby.
“Every GM in the league can make an argument for having the first pick,” Los Angeles Kings GM Dave Taylor said.

mlb- McGwire postpones Bay Area HOF Induction

Mark McGwire has requested that his induction into the Bay Area Sports HOF (BASHOF) be postponed. McGwire was scheduled to be inducted next week along with John McEnroe, Steve Young and Dick Bass. BASHOF President Ken Flower said, “He feels his presence at next week’s enshrinement banquet ... would be too much of a distraction to the induction. With regret, the BASHOF board of directors and I agreed to Mark’s request for postponement".

nhl- Next Week will tell the Story

I am a little late with this story, but after leaving the meeting, I stopped for a bite to eat and ran some errands. It is a good recap and basically next week is crunch time. I would not be surprised if both sides touch bases over this weekend too.

from sportsnet, After a six-hour meeting in Detroit, NHL officials and general managers left with an optimistic 'wait until next week' attitude.
Although no answers were forthcoming after the information session, an air of progress does exist.
"Next week will tell the story", is how one NHL executive described the current state of the lockout negotiations.
"Gary Bettman suggested the league could work with the concept that's out there now, but it all depends on what the numbers are," the source told Sportsnet.
"If we can agree on what the different plateaus are in what is an acceptable floor and what is the acceptable ceiling, then a deal could be done sooner than later", the source added.
While details of this "concept" remain vague, Sportsnet has learned the NHLPA version offered Monday in Toronto includes an element of both revenue sharing and a luxury tax system.
Union executive director, Bob Goodenow met with Bettman, informally, Thursday night for approximately three hours and the two sides are believed to be scheduling a more formal session for next week.

nhl- Final Report From NHL Meeting

The general consensus is a CBA deal will be in place by April 20th. The rules and changes are secondary right now, but the NHL has to have them in place no matter who is playing.
Neither side wants to go to court over this matter and knows it would only add to the disgrace that both sides have suffered.
I casually sat next to a team representative from Philadelphia, no idea who he was, and just struck up a conversation. He said the sides will meet next week and try to get a CBA deal done. This person is afraid of more damage being done and the NHL cannot afford to have any more negative press. Also, ESPN must know what is going on by the end of April and sponsors on both the national and team levels must have some sort of idea if the NHL will be using replacement or regular players. If replacment players are used, many of the sponsors on the team level will probably pull out of their sponsorship deals. This includes signage on the boards, in the arena, etc. Also includes radio and television.
The most encouraging aspect I got from being there is the willingness of both sides to continue talking and the lack of information being discussed about the CBA. Normally, both sides would float ideas to certain media people, but that has not happened, meaning both sides are respecting each other and not using the media to one-up each other.

nhl- Meeting Wrapping Up about 2pm

Talking with a few media people at the meeting, there is a sense the NHLPA realizes that they must get a CBA by the BOG meeting on April 20th. Both sides are planning on meeting next week to get down and dirty and try to hammer out a deal.
By the PA showing up at these meetings and the NHL actually listening to them, a bridge has been crossed and both sides are looking forward to next season.
The negotiations will be touch and go, both sides must give and take on issues and the last two days have been spent discussing the minor details of the CBA and have been agreed upon.
I am going to hang around until the end of the meeting to see if there is any official statement from either side.

nhl- Another Update from the NHL Meeting

I am surprised to see the NHL media here. Kevin Allen from USA Today and a metro Detroit resident, Mike Brophy from The Hockey News, a reporter from Team 590 Radio in Toronto is here(I believe it is Howard Berger) some beat writers from papers throughout North America are also here.
I am casual and acting like I know what I am doing. So far, haven't been questioned for any credentials or anything like that but am prepared for that in case it does come up. I came to the meeting with the mindset of Kramer when he went to work for a company even though no one knew who he was. I am just trying to fit in and so far all is well.
The overall talk today has been setting up a draft scenario. I am not sure how this will shake out. With the prospect of a new CBA making all teams equal, teams like Detroit, Colorado, Philly, Tampa, San Jose, Dallas, all want an equal shot at the #1 pick in the draft. Will they get there wish, I doubt it but it should be interesting to see what decisions are made.

nhl- Meeting Update

Blogging from the NHL Meeting ongoing at the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
It appears two different meetings or going on. The GMs are in one meeting discussing draft scenarios, with Bettman, Daly and Co, popping in and out.
Another meeting is being held with members of the NHLPA with Goodenow and Saskin in attendance, along with a few players. I also believe some owners may be involved, but I have yet to see any of them that I recognize.

nhl- Playoff Format Discussions

from slam via the torontosun, There is some thought among the GMs of revamping the NHL's playoff system. Currently the top eight in each conference make it, with the three division leaders, seeded 1 to 3.
Some clubs, particularly those on the post-season fringe the past few years, want to examine limiting guaranteed berths to the top six in each conference, while four wild-card spots would go to teams at large.
Another idea making the rounds in Detroit is to expand the playoff pool from 16 to 20, admitting the top 12, then letting the next eight play a best-of-three series within 48 hours of the completion of the regular season.
Some of the top clubs also want a format change, specifically with seeding the surviving eight teams in the first round. They want it based on points, a system that would have given the Maple Leafs home-ice advantage against the Flyers last year, based on their 103 points to Philly's 102. The Flyers, the Atlantic Division champions, had home ice.

nhl- Now is the Time to make Changes

from the torontostar(reg. req.), If the men who operate NHL teams on a daily basis can't summon the will to shoot for the moon now, it's virtually certain they never will.
Playing it safe just won't cut it, not with the U.S. television market having all but dried up and with the NHL's brand of low-scoring mud hockey having infected most other levels of the sport.
That's the really sad part. The junk the NHL sells has become what people expect. Many fans, sadly, don't even know the difference between good hockey and bad any more.
They just know what they get to see almost all of the time.
The time to move boldly and aggressively to enhance the game is now. But six hours of talking yesterday at the GMs meeting in Detroit provided nothing substantive on any game-related issue, possibly proving once and for all that when you put Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman in the same room your chances of solving anything are roughly equivalent to GTA gas prices dropping below 70 cents in the near future.

nhl- A Good Move

from the torontosun, The National Hockey League's general managers didn't propose a single rule change yesterday. But why would they? As a rule-making group, they are now out of business.
Instead, it was agreed that a new NHL body, a rules committee, will be formed within two or three weeks to relieve the GMs of the responsibility of making rules.
At least, it will relieve some GMs of that responsibility. The new committee will be composed of about a half-dozen GMs, plus a similar number of players. It will have a couple of referees and a similar number of coaches.
The committee, which is not unlike those which exist in the other major sports, should help the NHL achieve its stated aim of returning offence to the sport and making it more attractive to the fans.

blog- A Slight Delay

Last night my ISP, Comcast, decided to shut down for about four hours. I am just recovering from that problem and posting updates should begin shortly.
I am heading to the GM/CBA meeting in about 2 hours and will keep you posted on any new CBA information.

nhl- Goalie Equipment May be only Change

It appears the only change we will see is the equipment for goalies will be smaller.

DETROIT (CP) -- Hulking goaltenders covering the net with their bulky equipment may soon be a thing of the past.
NHL general managers, executives, players and officials were in widespread agreement Thursday that goaltender equipment will be smaller whenever the locked-out league resumes play.
"We talked at length about goaltender's equipment and there was a presentation of (smaller) equipment by CCM," said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. "Certainly the goaltenders are on board on reducing the size of their equipment.".
While no firm recommendations emerged from the more than six-hour meeting, league vice-president Colin Campbell said there were long discussions on goalie equipment and on reducing obstruction fouls.
The participants also wanted a "competition committee" made up of players and management to be set up to make recommendations on further rule changes.
"We made headway on goaltenders equipment," said Campbell. "We didn't expect anything hard and fast on rule changes."
"The goalie equipment is something that is very close," added Holland.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

nhl- Enough Rule Talk

Most of know enough about all of the proposed rule changes the NHL is considering.
I am "ruled out" and much more concerned about the CBA negotiations more than anything else at this point in time.
I have decided to head to the NHL Meeting location tomorrow to see if I can find out anything about the negotiations.
Hopefully I can speak to someone who can tell me something we haven't heard yet. I will be updating tomorrow through my trusted pocket pc and will keep everyone posted on any CBA news.

mlb- Tiger Fans

Magglio Ordonez not in the starting lineup today.

update 10:55am, Mags has a viral infection, will not play tomorrow and then should be day to day.

sports media- Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom, columnist for the Detroit Free Press, well known author and radio show host, has a little problem that is being looked at hard and heavy in the media. What Mitch did was basically write an article in advance and got burned by it when parts of the article did not happen as he stated in his article.

Today, Mitch gives you a little background at the issue at hand and an apology.

Here is the article in question.

Other journalists chime in.

nhl- More on Icing

via the Toronto Sun, If some of the new criteria being applied to icing gets a positive response by general managers at this weeks meetings in Detroit, the waving off of whistles when desperate teams dump the puck will become a welcome sight and the flow of play will be unabated.
"There will probably be a few ideas about no-touch icing -- with qualifications of judgement by a linesman," said NHL vice-president, hockey operations, Mike Murphy.
"Let's say if one forward out-races the defenceman on an attempted pass, or if a defenceman pinches in and lets the puck gets by him ... essentially, you'd like to reward teams for positive up-ice play and trying to create an attack."
There is also some thought by GMs of increasing power-play potential by calling icing on the short-handed teams that dump the puck. NHL penalty kill strategies have become very intricate in recent years and led to the decline in goals. There is already the feeling of some that penalized players do not suffer enough if an early power-play goal frees them from the box and they should be required to sit the whole two minutes, not returning until a stoppage of play, regardless of the man-advantage damage on the scoreboard.
That would serve the dual purpose of increasing offence and discouraging the obstruction that breeds so many minor penalties.

ncaah- Dasher Cam at Frozen Four

The NCAA men’s hockey Frozen Four begins today in Columbus, Ohio. The first semifinal features the Univ. of Denver and Colorado College at 2:00pm ET, with the Univ. of North Dakota and the Univ. of Minnesota facing off in the second semifinal at 7:00pm. Both games will be telecast by ESPN2. The final will take place Saturday at 7:00 and will air on ESPN. ESPN and ESPN2 during their coverage will unveil “DasherCam,” a robotic camera running the length of the ice above the protective glass attached to the dasher boards.

nhl- Most likely Changes

fro the globeandmail(reg. req.), It appears it's time for National Hockey League goaltenders to lose their bulk. General managers interviewed this week agreed that today's equipment is strong enough to be reduced in size and still protect the players.
The general managers are gathering in Detroit today for meetings. The governors have to approve changes suggested by the GMs, but, historically, the governors rubber-stamp recommendations.
Also, the diameter of goal posts will probably be reduced and their shape changed so that a puck hitting the inside of a post will bounce into the net. The net frames are unlikely to get any bigger.
And goaltenders will probably have to contend with shootouts to settle regular-season overtime games. There will be much discussion on what precedes the shootout. Some general managers want a gradual approach, going from the regular 4-on-4 overtime to 3-on-3 and then the shootout.

nhl- Ken Holland Interview

Holland was just on Detroit radio(later than scheduled) and said what he has heard from both sides about the CBA is good things. Discussions are going forward and as long as they continue to talk, that is a good sign.
Holland also talked about rule and equipment changes, the same stuff we have heard and read about, nothing new. He is going to recommend a no-icing rule while a team is on a penalty kill, if they do ice the puck, face off returns back to their zone.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

NHL & MLB Should Make Changes at the Top

from usatoday, The National Hockey League canceled an entire season, disgracing Canada's national pastime.
Major League Baseball is engulfed in a performance-enhancing controversy, shaming what once was, if not still is, the United States' national pastime.
Three boos for North America. (The NFL shouldn't get too comfortable. It has performance-enhancing substance issues and a labor agreement to deal with.)
Does hockey have any dignity?
Which home runs are legitimate, not aided by steroids or human-growth hormone?
There are problems for both sports, ones that will be better solved when leaders on both sides of the players and management are removed from their positions.
In the months leading up to last November's presidential election, bumper stickers that read "Regime change begins at home" were affixed to cars.
That premise should be applied to the NHL and MLB.
For the good of their sports, is it such a bad idea if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association executive director Bob Goodenow, and MLB commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Players Association executive director Don Fehr were no longer in charge?

nfl- Ron Mexico or Michael Vick

from thesmokinggun, Claiming that Michael Vick gave her herpes, a Georgia woman is suing the star NFL quarterback for negligence and battery.
Sonya Elliot, a 26-year-old health care worker, was infected with the sexually transmitted disease in April 2003 after an unprotected encounter with Vick at the athlete's Duluth, Georgia home. Elliott alleges that after testing positive for Herpes Simplex 2, she confronted the Atlanta Falcons star, 24, about her condition. "I've got something to tell you. I've got it," Vick admitted to her, according to Elliott's State Court complaint, which alleges that Vick then told her that "he had not known how to tell her about his condition, and that it was not something that he liked to talk about."
Elliott's complaint also contends that Vick "apologized profusely" for not telling her he was infected with the STD. Elliot's lawsuit alleges that Vick has used the name "Ron Mexico" and, in a related court filing, her lawyers are seeking Vick's admission that he used the "Mexico" alias--and perhaps other fake names--"for the purpose of herpes testing and/or treatment."

nhl- Goalies meeting with NHL Today

via TSN, TSN has learned a group of about 10 NHL goaltenders, along with representatives from the NHL Players' Association, is meeting with NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell and his staff in advance of Thursday's general managers' meeting at an airport hotel in Detroit.
The group of goaltenders, which includes Marty Brodeur, wanted to express some concerns and opinions about the prospect of slimming down goalies' equipment and also weigh in on the issue of bigger nets, which has been raised as a discussion point amongst the GMs. The league is also using the meeting to show the goalies what they have planned as far as reduced equipment sizes go and also have the larger net prototypes on hand for the goaltenders to see.
Sources say the NHLPA is being represented by executive director Bob Goodenow and counsel Ian Pulver, along with NHLPA president Trevor Linden. Detroit Red Wing forward Brendan Shanahan, who conducted his own how-to-improve-the-game summit earlier this season, is also reportedly in attendance today.
Brodeur, Linden and Shanahan are also expected to be part of the GMs' meeting on Thursday.

nhl- Detroit Area Hockey Fans

A heads up for tomorrow, Ken Holland is scheduled to be on WXYT radio sometime between 7am-8am.
I will update Breaking Sports with a recap of the conversation.

mlb- Detroit Tiger Fans

Just wanted to update you on the condition of Magglio Ordonez. He was pulled from the game due to dizziness. He is still not 100% and his start shows that, he is 0 for 2005 and is not comfortable at the plate.
I would not count on seeing him in the lineup tomorrow.

update 5:05pm, Trammell commented on Magglio, has had a couple of sick kids at home and could have caught something from them. Status for tomorrow will be a game time decision.
Also said Mags has been dragging for about two weeks before his stomach problems were diagnosed, so is still a bit rundown.

nhl- Chelios- "Nothing going to Happen"

Chris Chelios was just on WXYT radio in Detroit and said nothing will happen with the CBA until September. If the owners decide to go replacement player route, it will not work and then a CBA can be negotiated fairly.
Chelios also said it is good that a few players will be meeting with the GMs tomorrow to discuss rules, nets, etc. The talk behind the scene will be the CBA and maybe the GMs will be able to step in a give the meetings a kick start.

nhl- Don't be Fooled

from Al Strachan and the torontosun, So what really happens at these meetings? In a word, nothing.
Each time though, some form of erroneous report usually emerges that appears to be a glimmer of hope. In the latest instance, as reported on a local radio station, it was an assertion that the PA had agreed to a reduced roster.
This debacle is almost certainly going to be settled in the courts. The PA is not going to run up the white flag at this stage. Because the league treated their Dec. 9 offer with such disdain, the players are more galvanized than ever.
If there is to be any reversal of course that would keep the matter out of the courts, it will have to come from the owners. Perhaps that could happen. The owners always planned to cancel the full 2004-05 season. Only total capitulation could have altered that strategy.
But now, they have to decide upon their next step. With a workable offer on the table, do they want to risk the loss of their businesses for the sake of a principle?

nhl- Jacobs is Guardedly Optimistic

from the bostonglobe, The National Hockey League remains in its protracted hibernation, but in the view of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, there may be signs of a thaw in the league's negotiations with the Players Association.
According to Jacobs, who was part of the league negotiating team that met with the union Monday in Toronto, "A bit of reality may finally be entering the process -- I don't want to be too optimistic here, but I am guardedly optimistic."
Although he would not be specific, Jacobs said the players, following a caucus that lasted more than three hours, returned to the owners with a variety of informal proposals on a salary cap system. The various salary ranges suggested by the players, said Jacobs, were dollar amounts -- minimum and maximum -- based on the league's projected gross revenues.
If that sounds like linkage -- a concept tying salaries to revenues that thus far has been rejected by the Players Association -- it also sounded that way to Jacobs at first, too.
"I said to Gary, "Well, that's linkage,' " said Jacobs, relating the conversation he had with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "But the truth is it was not -- because in a true linkage system, the players' side would have to establish an escrow system, and that would mean giving money back if gross revenues dropped. They're not interested in that."
"My sense, overall, was that kind of system could work," said Jacobs. "The trick is getting that high figure in line, making it a much tighter spread between the minimum each team would pay, to the maximum each team would pay. We wanted that spread to be cut in half."
The sides have attempted to keep their meeting places confidential in recent weeks, but word around the league yesterday was that the next meeting will be in Detroit, where the NHL's general managers begin to meet tomorrow for a two-day session that will focus on: 1. Potential rules changes and 2. Business strategies, with or without a new CBA.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

nhl- Fischler Touches Many Bases

Stan Fischler of Foxsports goes through many topics in his column. A few include;
  • One of the best "make-hockey-better" ideas given to Gary Bettman belongs to Jimmy Devellano. The Red Wings' VP proposes an overtime with the current four-on-four. If there's still a tie after five minutes, Devellano suggests three-on-three for the next five.
    "It'll allow teams to put out their best players," says JD, "and provide many scoring chances."
  • One very likeable future Hall of Famer is telling pals that he's giving Bob Goodenow two months to make a deal. If no CBA is crafted by then, this well-known ace opines that the Dump Bob revolt will begin in earnest. This vet is determined to play one more NHL year — in 2005-06 and won't let the NHLPA boss ruin it for him.
Check out all the rest of them.

nhl- Ready to Talk

via Sportsnet, Both the NHL and the NHLPA remain tight-lipped over the details discussed during Monday's lengthy meeting in Toronto. However, as Sportsnet reported following the gathering, there's reason for optimism.
As one source close to the negotiation pointed out, for the first time in this process there was a good exchange of dialogue and neither side marched out of the meeting declaring, "No chance of a settlement."
The two sides have agreed to concentrate on what was described post-meeting as "the potential for a workable concept" by conducting internal discussions to further develop this mysterious new platform.
The NHLPA remains adamant a form of revenue sharing is a critical element.
The NHL brought in the heavy-weights, represented by commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss from the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold and New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello, as well as NHL executives Bill Daly, David Zimmerman, Colin Campbell and outside counsel Bob Batterman.
The NHLPA was represented by Bob Goodenow, Ted Saskin, John McCambridge, Ian Pulver, Mike Gartner, Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin, Vincent Damphousse, Bob Boughner, and Trent Klatt.
It's believed the presence of the players may have helped the process.
"The players asked a lot of questions and appear to be at a point where both sides are ready to negotiate," said an unnamed source. "Reality has set in. The players never expected Bettman would cancel the season. Well, he did, and now there is the realization that we need to make a deal."
The development of this new concept is expected to continue throughout the week with the league and union continuing to correspond. GM meetings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Detroit where Bob Goodenow and the NHLPA have an unnoficial plan to meet with Gary Bettman and Bill Daly. If there isn't a Motor City rendezvous, it's likely the negotiations will resume early next week.

nhl= Players invited by Gm's

I knew about Shanahan, but this has to be good news for all parties.

from TSN, When the NHL general managers get together on Thursday in Detroit to discuss how best to improve the way the game is played, they won't have to look far for player reaction.
That's because the NHL has invited a small group of high-profile players to attend Thursday's session.
The group includes netminder Martin Brodeur, defencemen Rob Blake and Scott Niedermayer as well as forwards Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Trevor Linden. Others may be added.
Shanahan, who conducted his own how-to-improve-the-game summit earlier this season, was asked by the league to put together the group of players to participate in Thursday's session, which is devoted entirely to ideas and concepts to make the game more entertaining and fan friendly.
On Friday, the GMs will meet on their own but only to discuss collective bargaining related issues. GMs have a myriad of questions and concerns about practical considerations on everything from the entry draft to free agents to minor league operations.

mlb- Detroit Tigers Ticket Sales up 20%

For the Tiger fans:

via Crain's Detroit Business, Terry Kosdrosky of Crain's reports the Tigers’ season-ticket sales “are 20% ahead of last year and all suites are locked up with long-term contracts.” Full-season equivalents are up to 10,800 this year from 8,989 last year and 7,400 in ’03. Comerica Park hosts this season’s MLB All-Star Game, and the only way to get a guaranteed ticket “is to buy a full-season package for a seat worth at least $13 on an individual game basis.” Fans could get an All-Star Game ticket last year “by buying a 21-game package on a $12 seat and renewing it this year.” Suites are sold via four- and seven-year contracts, “making a one-time event unlikely to spur sales.” A four-year contract costs around $500,000.

nfl- Panther Dr. Writing Tell All Steroid Book

from the charlotteobserver(reg. req.), The West Columbia, S.C., doctor at the center of a steroids investigation involving current and former Carolina Panthers is writing a book about the drugs and his involvement with professional football players, his agent says.
Jose Canseco's business agent says he's now Dr. James Shortt's literary agent and that they'll be in New York today meeting with book publishers.
"I'm taking the good doctor up there to sign a book deal," said Doug Ames, a Columbia-based agent who represents Canseco, the former Oakland A slugger and Major League Baseball MVP.
Shortt, an alternative medicine physician, is under investigation by state and federal authorities. A recent CBS news report said three Carolina Panthers players filled prescriptions from Shortt for banned steroids less than two weeks before the team played in the 2004 Super Bowl.
Ames said Shortt has decided to write a book telling the story of his life and career, including information that will jolt the NFL.
"It's going to blow a lot of people's minds," said Ames, who claimed to have spent six hours last week discussing the project with Shortt. "The NFL and their drug-testing policies, they think they are so good. ... It will be an eye-opener for the NFL.
"It will definitely be a shocking story on who has been using them and what doctors have been prescribing."
Ames said Shortt plans to name players who have been his patients.

mlb- More Steroid Suspensions Coming

Looks for more 10 day suspensions to come down soon for a few major league baseball players. Some of the cases are in the appeal process right now and will be made public if the process is denied.

mlb- Attendance Records

It appears MLB had a great start of the season. Check out these stats.
  • A’s-Orioles drew a Camden Yards-record crowd of 48,271
  • Royals-Tigers drew a Comerica Park-record crowd of 44,105
  • Mets-Reds drew a Great American Ball Park-record crowd of 42,794
  • Brewers-Pirates drew 38,016, the largest Opening Day crowd ever at PNC Park and the ninth-largest crowd in the ballpark’s five-year history
  • Cubs-D’Backs drew a crowd of 45,539 at Bank One Ballpark, but Cubs “die-hards were out in full force and full regalia,” comprising “nearly half” of the crowd

nhl- There is a Chance

Bob McKenezie of TSN expresses his views on yesterday's CBA Meeting.

Was there enough done at Monday's Collective Bargaining Agreement talks to suggest we will see a negotiated settlement before we see replacement players?
Yes, there is a chance. Certainly a better chance than there was 24-48 hours ago. We'll call this mildly encouraging.
I say mildly encouraging because it's way too early in the process to be jumping up and down and saying they are on their way to a negotiated settlement - that we've got great traction.
In reality, we have the beginning of the opportunity to have traction.
But that's still more than we've had in eight to ten months, so that's a positive sign.
I also like the fact that Monday's meeting featured a larger group than we've seen at the table before. It included Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins, who is considered by the players to be the hardest of the hard-line owners. If there was something at the meeting that he considered unpalatable, he could have just got up and left the table and created a storm that way, but he didn't.
So while we have to acknowledge the positives, I do so with mild optimism. It's too early to go beyond that.
There's no question, however, that both sides realize that the time for a negotiated settlement is now. If they don't get closer in the next week or two, then the owners will have to decide once and for all at their April 20th meeting if they are going to go the replacement player route, or the black hole route - which would be a repeat of this non-season.
The owners know that neither one of those options is something they want to do.
They will be looking for a negotiated settlement in the next week or two, as will the Players Association, but let's not get too excited just yet.

nhl- Progress Reported

from newsday, There seems to be a potential thaw in the icy NHL labor battle after the NHL and NHL Players' Association completed seven hours of negotiations yesterday in Toronto. No deal was reached, but there were indications of progress for perhaps the first time in the six-month lockout.
"Today could have been the first day of legitimate negotiations," a person involved in the discussions told Newsday last night.

nhl- Focus on Scoring

from the torontosun, In hockey, a goal is an important event. Even in the golden pre-Bettman era, that was the case. If the general managers allow Bettman to get away with his chances-not-goals solution, they will be shirking their responsibility.
t's a debate that, at the moment, is raging within the various levels of the NHL. Right at the top, commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear that his primary concern is to increase the number of scoring chances. If that happens, he has said, the fans will be entertained.
As he sees it, it is the structure of the game that provides the entertainment, and not necessarily the result.
But many GMs feel that the game needs more scoring. They suggest that Bettman's approach -- not surprisingly -- indicates a basketball mindset.
The reason that the chances-not-goals theory gets league support is that it is easier to implement than the real solution. For instance, is there a fan anywhere who does not think that goalie equipment is too large? Yet for more than a decade, the league has been unable to stop the promiscuous proliferation of padding.
It is so painfully obvious that you'd like to whack their foreheads against the screen and shout. "Look at that! There's no opening for the puck-carrier to shoot at!"

nhl- My Take

Most of the headlines about the NHL today read something like this: Players Reject Two More NHL Proposals.
But I have been told as reported last night, that some success did come out of the meeting yesterday. The two should sides will be meeting this week, possibly in Detroit to coincide with the GM meeting on Thursday and Friday.
New concepts and ideas were brought into play by the NHLPA and the NHL thought enough of them to continua to talk about those ideas.
The NHL is looking to have a gameplan in place for the 2005-06 season by the time the BOG meeting takes place on April 20th.
The next meeting between the two sides will be the most crucial meeting they have had to date. Are both sides willing to give and take to get a deal done, well, let's put it this way, they started the process yesterday and must do the same at the next meeting.
If not, both sides know the NHL will never be the same.

nhl- No Gains

via Larry Brooks and the nypost, While the NHL likes to assume the public pose that it can all but unilaterally dictate the terms under which its varsity athletes will play whenever they return, the league has acknowledged that the fate of unpaid 2004-05 contracts is a matter very much to be decided in the, uh, collective-bargaining process.
For even as the NHL and the NHLPA met for more than six hours to no conclusion yesterday in Toronto — each represented by larger groups that included owners and players, as well as the usual executive suspects and attorneys — the league's twin March 17 proposals include clauses specific to the cancelled season's contracts.
Section 11 of both the de-linked $37.5M team hard cap and 54-percent-of-the-gross proposals that were formally rejected by the union yesterday contain the following language: "Existing Contracts — 2004-05 season eliminated."
The NHLPA has never agreed to allow the league to simply erase its commitments by virtue of the lockout turned cancellation. Rather, action on those commitments will, as the NHL recognizes, be determined by the negotiations.
So, too, will the fate of 2003 Entry Draft picks who, under the expired CBA, would have either become unrestricted free agents or gone back into the draft pool if unsigned by June 2, even though NHL VP and counsel Bill Daly has stated the drafting teams will keep the players' rights if a new CBA is not reached by that date.
As reported by The Post yesterday, the PA did not make a counter-proposal in the session yesterday. Rather, the parties discussed issues and concepts. The union is known to be urging more meaningful revenue sharing than the NHL contemplates.
It is believed that the parties will reconvene in some form later this week in Detroit, when the GMs meet to discuss possible rules changes and replacement-player scenarios.
Meanwhile, the NHL filed an unfair-labor practice complaint against the PA with the NLRB yesterday over the union's previous verbal threat to decertify agents who represent replacement players that was communicated during an agents' meeting with the PA Board in November. It is not clear whether the NLRB has any jurisdiction regarding the certification process.

nhl- Trying to find common Ground

from the latimes(reg. req.), Shifting strategy to meet in small groups that discussed separate issues, representatives of the NHL and NHL Players' Assn. spent seven hours Monday trying to find areas of agreement they can stitch into a new collective bargaining agreement, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
The two sides gathered in Toronto and met briefly with larger group than had been at previous meetings before breaking into smaller groups to go over single issues such as entry-level contracts, revenue sharing and free agency, the source said.

Monday, April 04, 2005

nhl- Be Cautious

from foxsports, It's anyone's guess at this stage just what was talked about during Monday's meeting, although there are certain to be leaks to the media from both sides as the week, and hopefully talks, progress. We should get some idea on these new ideas in the coming days.
Indeed, the leaks have already begun, as Sportsnet.ca reported sources claiming talks were "productive", that "new elements and ideas" had been discussed, with one source cautiously suggesting a "potentially workable concept was out there".
Naturally it would be easy to ponder why these productive talks and new elements and ideas didn't surface weeks, if not months ago, but if these sources are accurate, it may be the first real positive step taken by both sides in some time.
Still, it would be wise to curtail one's optimism. We've been down this road several times throughout the lockout, most notably in January, where both sides would emerge from negotiations one day giving the impression talks might be progressing only to claim the next day that "philosophical differences" remained.

nhl- NHLPA Statement

TORONTO (April 4, 2005): At the conclusion of today's meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:

“We discussed some concepts aimed at addressing the challenges faced by all of us as a result of the NHL’s lockout and subsequent cancellation of the season. Although no meetings were scheduled today, I expect Bob and Gary will be speaking soon to set up future discussions. ”

nhl- NHL Press Release

NEW YORK (April 4, 2005) - Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association met today in Toronto to discuss matters pertaining to Collective Bargaining.
The League was represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman; NHL Board of Governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames; Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs; Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold and New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello, plus NHL executives Bill Daly, David Zimmerman, Colin Campbell and outside counsel Bob Batterman. The NHLPA was represented by Bob Goodenow, Ted Saskin, John McCambridge, Ian Pulver, Mike Gartner, Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin, Vincent Damphousse, Bob Boughner, and Trent Klatt.
Upon the conclusion of the meeting, the following statement was released by Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer:
"The Players' Association began today's meeting by rejecting the two proposals made by the NHL on March 17. Thereafter, we discussed the status of our current situation and, in general terms, possible concepts for moving the process forward. The meeting concluded with both sides agreeing to explore these concepts further internally, and to talk again later this week."

nhl- Will meet again this Week

from tsn, ''The Players' Association began today's meeting by rejecting the two proposals made by the NHL on March 17,'' NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement. ''Thereafter, we discussed the status of our current situation and, in general terms, possible concepts for moving the process forward. The meeting concluded with both sides agreeing to explore these concepts further internally, and to talk again later this week.''

nhl- Recap of Meeting

As I posted in the comment section of one of the recent threads about 1/2 hour ago, a lot of positives came out of this meeting. Don't be surpised to hear luxury tax being brought back into the negotiations.
Both sides are going to regroup and notify their sides of what went on today, and will meet again sometime this week.

nhl- Moving in the right Direction

sportsnet now has updated the first paragraph from their previous story.
The National Hockey League wrapped up its meeting with the Players' Association in Toronto Monday with reason for optimism. Sources tell Sportsnet that there is a potentially-workable concept out there, but there's still a long way to go before agreeing on a deal.
Although the union did not submit a counter-proposal, the two sides did discuss new concepts and ideas. While no new meetings are planned, the league and union are expected to set a date to meet again.

update 9:18pm, Sportsnet has again changed their story a bit. Now even more positive.
The National Hockey League wrapped up its meeting with the Players' Association in Toronto Monday with no counter-proposal from the union. However, there is reason to be optimistic.
Although the NHLPA did not submit any counter offers, the two sides did discuss new concepts and ideas. One source close to the negotiation told Sportsnet there is a potentially-workable concept out there, but cautions the process is a long way from being completed.
Another source describes Monday's lengthy gathering as "very productive" and adds a number of new elements and ideas surfaced in Toronto.

nhl- CBA Meeting Update

from sportsnet, The National Hockey League wrapped up its meeting with the Players' Association in Toronto Monday with no new date set for further discussions.
Although the union did not submit a counter-proposal, the two sides did discuss new concepts and ideas. While no new meetings are planned, the league and union are expected to set a date to meet again.

update 8:47pm, A little bit of information from the meeting. Both sides have left the meeting thinking there is some wiggle room to continue talking. Time is needed to go back to each of their sides, discuss what was brought up in today's meeting and figure out the next move. Some new ideas were brought up and may lead to further discussions.

nhl- Meeting Over

It is over but no update yet.

nhl- Meeting still in Session

Indications are the CBA meeting is still going on. Can this be a good sign or an end to negotiations?
As in the past, news will probably break in about two minutes after this post.

nhl- Time running out for NHLPA

from Stan Fischler and msgnetwork, The National Hockey League Players' Association has reached LAST CHANCE HOTEL.
But the question remains: do the players know it?
We'll find out late Monday afternoon if the answer is in the affirmative and a collective bargaining agreement can be hammered out.
Reports preceding today's meeting indicate that the union has nothing in the way of a deal-maker to present to the league.
If the NHLPA fails to deliver an attractive package at the meeting, it will be the union's final opportunity to make a reasonable deal before the league moves on to its next options, including the possibility of hiring replacement players.

nhl- No news on Meeting

Just to keep you posted, nothing new on the CBA meeting yet. Will let you know as soon as news breaks.

nhl- Bettman being Swayed

I happened to be a party today and Mike Ilitch was also in attendance. I was able to hear Mr. I express his views on the NHL situation and one thing that I felt was important to report was Bettman knows what some of the owners want and his views on the CBA negotiations are beginning to be swayed by owners like Ilitch.
Ilitch also stated that the Wings do not want to use replacement players and will express their thoughts at the BOG on April 20th.

update 6:25pm, As I mentioned in the comment section of this post, Ilitch said ticket prices for replacement player hockey would be $10 low end and $40 high end.
Now a little bit more on his conversation today. He says this week is crucial for a deal to be made. He is taking the high road and says not the time to put the blame on players or owners, just get a deal done. Says the the $10 million contract days are over, said he sees $5 million being the max of a yearly contract but again stressed this week is crucial to the players. If no deal by the time of the BOG, replacement hockey will be the way the NHL will go. He does not want that type of hockey, but if no agreement, he has no other choice.

nhl- Another charge being Filed

via sportsnet, The NHL did not sit idle Monday morning waiting to meet with the Players Association in Toronto.
Sources tell Sportsnet, NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly spent the morning preparing the league's second formal charge with the National Labour Relations Board.
The source says "it will get filed today."
The NHL believes the union is threatening to decertify agents who choose to represent replacement or "cross-over" players in the event the league implements that much speculated plan.
Meanwhile, a great deal of speculation hovers over the day's meeting between the NHL and the NHLPA.
Sources within the union have made it known a counter proposal should not be expected. However, executives on the NHL side are hearing rumblings of a players' presentation armed with a stiffer luxury tax system.
Several owners are believed to be taking part, while sources say five of the PA's players executive will be on hand.

nhl- No Proposal

from Larry Brooks and the nypost, While speculation abounds that the NHLPA will respond to the league's March 17 hard-cap proposals with a formal counter of its own when the parties meet today in Toronto, sources have told The Post that the union has no intention of doing so.
Moreover, NHL VP Bill Daly was told as much by PA senior director Ted Saskin when the two seconds met in New York last Thursday and Friday to complete a review and accounting of their joint-venture 2004 World Cup, The Post has learned.
In addition, the union earlier in the week had conducted a conference call that included the 30 team player reps during which Bob Goodenow and the executive committee explained they'd be raising systemic issues such as arbitration, free agency, revenue-sharing, and perhaps the introduction of the franchise-player concept, for fresh, creative discussion without a committing to operating within an overall cap structure.
The league has two alternate offers on the table; one that is based on a de-linked hard cap of $37.5M per team, a second based on a 54-percent-of-the-gross formula. The league not only has promised to withdraw its de-linked offer if not accepted in principle by this coming Thursday, it also is threatening to decrease the percentage of revenue allotted to the players as the lockout continues.
According to the proposal, obtained by The Post, the league currently projects ["what may be an aggressive assumption..."] hockey-related revenues of $1.8B for an on-time 2005-06, down from $2.1B in 2003-04.

Busy Day Today

Today is a holiday in Detroit. I will be attending Opening Day of the baseball season starting out at Hockeytown Cafe at about 7am, then on to a party at the Opera House about 10am. Next stop is a private party at the Fox Theater followed by the ballgame.
I will be updating Breaking Sports throughout the day using a pocket pc and a laptop once at the game. The posts may be a little shorter than usual but links will be provided if needed.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

nhl- Wholesale Rule Changes

from Russ Conway via The Eagle Tribune, The National Hockey League's 30 team general managers are scheduled to meet Thursday in Detroit to discuss an array of subjects about the sport.
At least a think tank is better than the smoldering smell of "no progress" that continues to emerge from the smokestack that both the league and players union send out from their nonproductive bargaining sessions.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players Association boss Bob Goodenow are set to meet again tomorrow, a meeting that would have been more appropriate had it been held on Friday, April 1.
Every calendar date that has passed since last Labor Day has been April Fools Day as far as pro hockey is concerned.
During a time when club owners in the "No Hockey League" continue to make believe that people will buy into a product of "replacement" players, should they take the padlocks off their doors for a 2005-06 season minus a contract with the union, at least the managers can talk about dusting the cobwebs off their Zambonis.
Yet before going to the on-ice product, why not start the rebuilding plan at the top? Do two things that no stick-and-ball major league sport has done: Come up with a real "commissioner" of hockey and then, for a change, reduce ticket prices.
The position of "commissioner" in all of major league sports is a misnomer.
In reality, the title should be known as the "owners' commissioner," because that's what it is....well worth reading the rest of the article...

mlb- Alex Sanchez Suspended-Steroids

from AP, Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended 10 days for violating Major League Baseball's new drug policy, the first player publicly identified under baseball's tougher rules.
Major League Baseball announced the suspension Sunday. It begins on Monday.
Sanchez said he was surprised by the suspension, adding that he uses milkshakes and multivitamins to build his energy -- and blaming the positive test on something he bought over the counter.
"I'm going to fight it, because I've never taken steroids or anything like that," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he was drug tested while he was with the Tigers.
It has been an emotional month for Sanchez. The center fielder was reunited with his mother for the first time in 11 years in mid-March. Five days later, he was released by the Tigers.
Sanchez had frustrated Detroit with his sloppy play in the field in the past, and did again during spring training.

nhl- Big Week Ahead

from the CP via TSN, A big week lies ahead for the NHL as labour talks resume Monday in Toronto and the league's 30 general managers meet in Detroit on Thursday and Friday to discuss rule changes.
First up, another sitdown between the league and the NHL Players' Association with the union possibly coming armed with a counter-offer, although that very subject has been kept under wraps like a state secret.
Sources do indicate, however, that a larger group than usual will gather Monday, with the addition of some owners and players as well as New Jersey Devils GM and CEO Lou Lamoriello.
The two sides haven't met since March 17 in New York, when the NHLPA was presented two proposals by the NHL, the first a team-by-team $37.5-million US salary cap deal that did not have a fixed link between player costs and league revenues - "linkage."
The second offer was based on linkage, with player costs to take up no more than 54 per cent of league revenues.
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.
The NHL gave the union an April 8 deadline - this Friday - to negotiate on the "de-linked'' proposal, or else it will be pulled off the table and only the second proposal will remain.
So the union, which held a conference call with players last week, has had a major decision to make. Do the players cut their losses now and put a cap offer on the table, let's say around $45 million, and call it a day? Or do they gamble that the NHL's next option, replacement players, will blow up in its face next fall and hand the leverage back to the union.
The decision should be clear on Monday.
continue reading the artilce....

nhl- Rumored Proposal

Some media people believe a proposal will be made tomorrrow by the PA. Bob McKenzie of TSN believes there will be discussion tomorrow and no proposal.
Take this with a grain of salt an wait about 24 hours or so, we will find out soon enough.
from the bostonglobe, According to one source familiar with what the union cobbled together in Pebble Beach, the key components might include, for the first time, a provision for a so-called franchise player.
Now, as for what is rumored to be proposed by the PA side:

* Salary cap of $42 million (includes $39.8 million in salary and $2.2 million in benefits).
* Salary floor of $34 million.
* Franchise player, with neither salary nor benefits to be included in $42 million cap figure, but club to pay 50 percent tax.
* Unrestricted free agency lowered to age 27 from 31.
* Entry-level salaries to be capped at $1.2 million (including performance bonuses) per season.
* Qualifying offers for restricted free agents lowered to 75 percent (from current position of 110 or 100 percent, based on player's existing salary).
* Five-year limit on all individual contracts (currently no term restrictions).
* Team revenue sharing, of varying percentages, during regular season and playoffs.

nhl- Crosby Scenarios

from Larry Brooks and the nypost, Let's understand. Unless the NHL conducts an unweighted, 30-team, everyone-in-it-to-win-it sweep stakes, whatever lottery formula it devises for the eventual Entry Draft of the Class of '05 will all but predetermine the destination — and destiny — of Sidney Crosby, who, at 17, is only the most valuable commodity in hockey.
Granting the Class of '05 free agency within a restrictive entry-level cap is undoubtedly the league's best option. One can easily imagine the mountain of publicity generated by a potential Crosby Tour Across North America; a visit to Montreal one day, to Toronto the next, to New York the day after that, to Detroit the day after that, to Tampa, then Atlanta, then Dallas, then Los Angeles. Visits that one and all would attract hordes of reporters and television cameras.
What would the league be afraid of, that Crosby wouldn't choose to assign himself to a small-market outpost such as Columbus, Pittsburgh or Edmonton for the first 12 years of his career? Heavens. Wasn't shutting down for a full season, isn't insisting on a restrictive hard cap, aren't these drastic enough measures to satisfy the apparently insatiable appetite of the small markets and their league enablers?
Somehow, it appears as if adopting a lottery weighted by aggregate records over the last four seasons is gaining favor among league personnel. Well, of course. Why not? Why wouldn't these myopic, small-minded people want to embrace a system that would award Columbus the most desirable spot in the lottery? Why wouldn't the league want to adopt a lottery that would give Columbus first shot, Atlanta second shot, Florida third shot and Pittsburgh fourth shot at this charismatic would-be healer?
Of course. By all means. Devise a system that would all but eliminate the opportunity to place Crosby in a high-profile market. But what else has anyone come to expect from this lowest common denominator of a league, of its Board, of its owners' commissioner?

nhl- Peca expects some players to Cross

via Toronto Sun, Michael Peca would not be surprised if a handful of NHLers opt to become replacement players next season. Just don't expect to see any superstars leading the way.
"When you have 700-plus guys, there is bound to be some crossing," Peca said after last night's outdoor charity game at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.
"But I think it will be the guys who are in the financial position where they need to (play). "It won't be a reflection on the union, the resolve among us is as strong as ever."
The NHL is considering using replacement players next season should a new collective bargaining agreement not be in place.
"If they begin with replacements, I don't think there will be any part of a season with us," Peca said. "I can't see the league starting with replacement players then offering to open the door to us."
Peca also dismissed the notion of larger nets. "I don't think it will happen, I just think it's dialogue."