Breaking Sports

Saturday, May 07, 2005

nhl- Anyone out There

I don't know about you, but my interest in the World Championships has been way down. We should be talking 2nd round of the playoffs instead of wondering why a US network did not pick up the broadcast rights to the games in Austria.
The last two CBA meetings have actually taken a turn for the worse. Nothing is happening on either side except for the spinning of their proposals to try and fool each other.
It is getting to the point where the courts may be the deciding factor of this lockout. Should be an "exciting" summer.
Some of the things being said in these meetings are actually uniting the NHLPA. Bettman has been more defiant than ever and some of his action and words have even surprised some of the PA members who have been in the meeting.

iihf- US networks turn down free broadcast Rights

from the philadelphiainquirer(sunday edition) via the mercurynews(reg. req.), Hockey fans in the United States will remember 2004-05 not only because of the NHL lockout but because they were given the shaft twice.
Once was by the NHL owners who approved the lockout. The other was by network television.
Judging from e-mails, many American fans assumed these World Championships were going to be televised - in whole or part - on ESPN or some other American network.
But ESPN told the New York Post it had other programming lined up and couldn't spare the air time. Fox claimed it had been offered the rights and found them too expensive.
Now, here's the bombshell: Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, admitted in his annual address here that he so desperately wanted this event on American television that his marketing people contacted several networks and offered them the rights for free.
Zero dollars.
And he still got turned down. If you're a hockey fan, an NHL season-ticket holder perhaps, you should be outraged.
"I know our marketing department contacted them about TV rights and marketing rights," Fasel said. "We tried to go through different people. We even offered it for free - no cost. And we could not book it. It was a very strong, different market on U.S. television. But we tried."
The IIHF contracts out the TV rights to a group called In Front, which then negotiates worldwide television rights.
TSN in Canada signed a deal to televise the World Championships as part of its overall hockey package that also includes the women's World Championships, and the junior under-18 and under-20 championships, among other events.
Of course, if you're TSN, you're unhappy that the IIHF was willing to give American TV the rights for nothing, but that's another story.
A spokesperson for In Front had no comment about how much TSN paid and had no knowledge of American networks being offered the rights for free.
"There are so many things in the United States with the TV programming," Fasel said. "Even the NHL is struggling to get on the TV there. So the international games would struggle, also."
According to a source at TSN who asked not to be identified, the big cost of televising the tournament wasn't in the rights fees but in the ancillary fees associated with each broadcast. For instance, the production costs can run up to $20,000 a day.
Each network is required to pay for its "box" or location at the games, and that costs $100,000. The satellite feed is $12,000 an hour. Including pregame activity, TSN allows for a four-hour production, which means it is paying $48,000 per game. All of this quickly adds up over the two-week period into millions of dollars.
"But if any of the American networks had asked TSN if they could share the feed (of the games), I'm sure we would have accommodated them," the TSN source said. Regardless, the American hockey fan once again has been shut out. And that's a pity because the Latvian fans have put on a show, and Thursday's Canada-U.S. game, won by the Canadians, 3-1, was very entertaining.
This would have been great exposure for USA Hockey back home. Peter Laviolette's younger new American club is on the rise and will only get better in the near future. You just had to be here in person to see it.

Bring Back Hockey

from canoe, The National Hockey League and its fans have hopped on a rubbery wrist-bandwagon sweeping social and fashion circles worldwide.
Colourful silicone bracelets, similar to the hugely popular Lance Armstrong "LiveStrong" bands, are now available online in two separate campaigns to benefit NHL charities.
The campaigns are drastically different in size: one is run, in part, by the NHL and its Players' Association and the other is a product of a 10-year-old boy in Florida.
But both tap into a growing trend in which wristbands are being worn in multiple numbers and colours as a form of personal expression and support for a cause or charity.
Grade 5 student Jake Owens, "a hardcore hockey fan" in West Palm Beach, Fla., spearheaded the smaller campaign initially as a way to protest the NHL lockout.
"I decided to do this because I think everyone was so mad about hockey being on strike, so I thought I'd be part of the solution, not the problem," he said in a recent phone interview.
The former Toronto resident, who cites the Maple Leafs and Tie Domi as his favourites in the NHL, says he wrote letters to some general managers to express his disappointment with the cancelled season.
But when he didn't get much of a reaction, he decided to launch a wristband campaign because "wristbands were what all the kids cared about at the time."
"And I thought, 'Why not express my sadness with something that everybody cares about?"'
The "sophisticated kid," as his father calls him, describes awareness wristbands as an "extremely" popular trend in his school. Some kids will wear up to 10 different bendable bracelets at a time, he says.
Owens decided to make his band black, "because black is the colour of mourning and black is the colour of a hockey puck."
His father found a manufacturer to make the bands and inscribe them with the slogan Bring Back Hockey, and a family friend helped build the website to sell them for $1 each.
"This is really kind of a garage thing that we're doing," Jake's father Joe Owens, co-owner of a sports and entertainment marketing company, said from his office.

nhl- Blues owner may Sell

from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, I keep hearing rumors about the Blues and Bill Laurie, and they won't go away. The buzz: Laurie is looking to dump the Blues because he's disillusioned with the NHL's state of affairs and is fed up with losing money.
Laurie couldn't be reached to comment, and the Blues say Laurie isn't making himself available for interviews. When reached Friday, Blues president Mark Sauer politely declined to discuss Laurie's state of mind, saying that it isn't his place to speak for the owner of the Blues.
Sauer said Laurie, like all NHL owners, is just patiently waiting out the current labor impasse.

nhl- Hybrid Discussion

The TSN Insiders discuss(will open WMP video) the hybrid contract both sides are working on.

Friday, May 06, 2005

nhl- NHLPA makes two Statements


TORONTO (May 6, 2005): At the conclusion of today's 4-1/2 hour meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“We met with league representatives the past two days and continued discussions to develop a new conceptual framework for an agreement. No progress was made. It is our intention to meet again next Tuesday in New York for further discussions.”


TORONTO (May 6, 2005): The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) confirmed today that the British Columbia Labour Relations Board denied the NHL’s request to adjourn further proceedings on the application for certification by the British Columbia Chapter of the NHLPA.
Following the decision, Matt Cooke of the Vancouver Canucks made the following statement:
“We are pleased with the Board’s ruling to allow the B.C. Chapter to pursue its application for certification in the province.”

nhl- Union can proceed for certification in B.C.

via CP, The B.C. Labour Relations Board has ruled the National Hockey League Players' Association can proceed with its application to have the union certified in the province. In a decision handed down Friday, the board rejected arguments by a lawyer representing the National Hockey League that allowing the hearing to proceed would signal a disregard for U.S. labour law. Najeeb Hassan, the board's vice-chairman, also dismissed the idea that allowing the application hearing would hinder the ability of the NHLPA and the NHL to reach an agreement that would end the current hockey labour dispute. No date has been set for the certification hearing. The NHLPA has applied for union certification in Quebec and British Columbia, a move intended to block the potential use of replacement players in those provinces. During a hearing Tuesday in Vancouver, Peter Gall, the lawyer representing the NHL and the owners of the Vancouver Canucks, argued the NHLPA's application for union certification should be adjourned until an unfair labour practice complaint is heard by the National Labour Relations Board in the United States. Nassan dismissed that argument. ''I do not agree that proceeding with the certification application would signal a disregard for U.S. law or demonstrate a lack of concern about the ramifications of the application in B.C. for American labour law,'' he wrote in his seven-page ruling. He also questioned how certifying the union could impact on the ability of the two sides to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. ''I see no basis upon which to conclude that merely hearing the BC-NHLPA's application would affect the ability of the parties to that dispute to reach a collective agreement,'' he said. Nassan said allowing the hearing to proceed shouldn't ''be taken as prejudging'' how the labour board will rule on the NHLPA's application for certification. Neither Quebec nor B.C. allow the use of replacement workers during strikes or lockouts, but that's only when the workers being replaced belong to certified unions. If the NHLPA is certified as a union in B.C., the Vancouver Canucks would not be allowed to hire replacements.

nfl- Will the Cleveland Browns recoup their $6 mil

from, If injuries from his motorcycle accident cause Kellen Winslow Jr. to miss the 2005 season, the Browns could recoup close to $6 million in salary and bonuses owed to the tight end, according to terms of his contract.
But should they?
The Plain Dealer surveyed several high-level team executives about the Browns' options. They spoke on the condition of anonymity. Also, one high-profile agent contributed a different point of view.
The consensus was that the Browns' decision should be based on Winslow's health and his ability to contribute to the team in the future.
The growing concern inside the organization is that Winslow may have suffered multiple injuries to his right knee and leg. There is new speculation that Winslow injured his kneecap in addition to ligament damage, and possibly has a hairline fracture of the right femur.

nhl- McKenzie on the last two Days

from TSN, It's difficult to tell whether two days of relatively brief meetings have the NHL and NHL Players' Association any closer to a new collective bargaining agreement, but the two sides will get together on Tuesday in New York City for another negotiating session.
What happened during the three-hour meeting Thursday and the four-and-a-half-hour session Friday in Toronto can basically be boiled down as follows:
On Thursday, the NHL gave the NHLPA a revamped proposal working off the framework the NHLPA presented to the league last month, this time with a new set of numbers defining a payroll range and luxury tax system. On Friday, the two sides met to discuss these numbers.
There doesn't appear to be any reason for excess optimism, but neither does there appear to be any concrete evidence for pessimism either.
As for the specifics of the NHL's proposal, it would be foolhardy to try to come up with exact numbers because all the numbers being talked about hinge on what the revenue levels would be. You could quote any numbers but unless you're also quoting the revenue figure, they would be meaningless. It is, after all, a linked deal that has payroll ranges (floors and ceilings) that slide according to revenue levels.
What we knew from previous meetings is that the NHLPA was proposing a $20 million gap between the floor and ceiling and the NHL was responding with a desired $10 million gap.
What we now know from the last two days of meetings is that the NHL has proposed a payroll range wider than $10 million, but not close to $20 million and perhaps not even splitting the difference at a figure of $15 million. In addition to increasing the range, the NHL also proposed a new luxury tax system.
Again, it would be ludicrous to project the precise threshold at which point the tax would kick in and equally as foolish to project the rate, because both those numbers would move up or down as they are contingent on how many teams spend how much money on payroll.
In other words, the more teams that would spend at the upper end of the payroll the ranger, the higher the tax rate would be and the lower the threshold would be where the tax takes effect. Conversely, if more teams chose to spend at the lower end of the payroll range, the tax rates would be lower and the threshold at which they kick in would be higher.

nhl- NHL Press Release

Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today concluded a two-day session of collective bargaining meetings.
The League was represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman; Board of Governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames; Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly; Executive Vice President & Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell; Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs; Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold; New Jersey Devils President, CEO and General Manager Lou Lamoriello; NHL Vice President, General Counsel David Zimmerman and attorneys Bob Batterman and Shep Goldfein.
The NHLPA representatives were Bob Goodenow, Ted Saskin, Ian Pulver, John McCambridge and Mike Gartner, and players Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin and Bob Boughner.
Following Friday's session, Mr. Daly released this statement:
"We met for approximately 3-1/2 hours yesterday and for approximately 4-1/2 today and further discussed the conceptual framework first raised at our April 4 meeting. Both sides intend to spend the next several days continuing to work internally, and at this point, we are hoping to meet again in New York on Tuesday, May 10."

nhl- Talks over, No Progess

from the CP, The NHL and NHL Players' Association have wrapped up their CBA talks this week, with their next meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Sources indicate the NHL made a proposal to the union Thursday, one once again involving a team-by-team salary cap with an upper limit and a lower limit, but this time also including a payroll tax in the middle - something that would further discourage teams from spending.
An NHLPA source said while concepts were discussed, no progress was made.
The NHLPA's April 4 offer set the upper limit at $50 million US per team and the lower limit around $30 million. The league wants a lower upper limit.

media- NBA Ratings

The combined NBA playoff cable Nielsen ratings on TNT and ESPN through last Sunday was a 1.8, identical to through the same point last year, but ABC through three playoff games has posted a 2.7 Nielsen rating, compared to a 4.0 through two games last year.
In Canada, an average of 86,000 viewers watched the first week of NBA postseason broadcasts in Canada, up 63% from 53,000 in ’04. Games on Rogers Sportsnet were up 78% over the same period last year, while TSN’s viewership increased 73% and The Score was up 23%.

nhl- What the NHL proposed Yesterday

via Sportsnet, The National Hockey League tabled a proposal in Thursday's latest round of lockout negotiations with the Players' Associaton, sources told Rogers Sportsnet.
The proposal is believed to include a stiff luxury tax system, with a tax structure adjustable to accommodate the rate and threshold on how the proposed CBA would be working.
There is speculation among hockey circles of a dollar-for-dollar tax with revenue sharing among the NHL generated from this system.
The luxury tax would trigger a hard cap agreement that is expected to come in with a floor of $25-million and a ceiling below $35-million.
In a New York Times report, a source close to the union negotiations spoke on a condition of anonymity how the union would accept a payroll range of $30-million to $50-million per team in a package that would include a luxury tax for high-spending teams and significant revenue-sharing to help low-income franchises.

hockey- Canada preparing for the Olympics

via Sportsnet, If there is no collective bargaining agreement to end the NHL lockout by the end of the world championship, Hockey Canada will hold a training camp in June for non-NHLers in preparation for the Winter Games.
That's the word according to Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson, who Friday outlined plans for preparing for the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in February.
Nicholson said Hockey Canada has three plans in preparing for the Winter Games. One includes top NHL players. The second is a Team Canada minus NHL stars. The third is a hybrid of NHLers without contracts along with Canadians in Europe.

Just Stand Still

Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the National Cheerleaders Association, might have put modern cheerleading on the map. But the state's House of Representatives, concerned that high school cheerleading is becoming too raunchy, voted 85-55 Wednesday to approve a bill that would forbid sexy cheers and give the Texas Education Agency authority to punish schools that allow "overtly sexually suggestive" routines at football games and other events.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Al Edwards, a Houston Democrat and ordained minister, now goes to the Senate, where it lacks a sponsor.
"People are calling and telling me how disgusting it is to see sexually suggestive routines on the part of marching units or cheerleaders," Edwards said.
Others are withholding their hurrahs. Eric Howze, owner and director of the Southwest Cheer Academy, which conducts private cheerleading classes near Houston, said the measure was "completely ridiculous."
"What's defined as lewd by one person is skill, talent and hard work to another," Howze said.

nhl- No Hockey

from the Detroit Free Press and Mitch Albom, I went down to Joe Louis Arena earlier this week. The halls were dark, the tunnels empty. I was about to leave when I heard the sound of conversation.
"And that makes one year," a voice whispered.
"One stinkin' year," said another.
"Happy anniversary."
"Yeah. Happy stinkin' anniversary."
I crouched low. Through the dim light I saw a stick and a puck. The stick had hundreds of notches on its shaft. It had just cut a new one. I'm not sure how, since a stick has no arms. Then again, sticks aren't supposed to talk, either.
"Three hundred sixty-five notches," it said. "Three hundred sixty-five days. One full year. No Red Wings."
"One full year," the puck said, glumly.
Both items seemed pretty depressed; at least I think they were depressed. It's hard to tell with sporting goods. I slid closer. I saw a pile of things on the floor in front of them, a calendar, a Red Wings schedule, a faded picture of Steve Yzerman.
"Can it really be a year since that last loss to Calgary?" the stick said.
"Hard to believe," said the puck.
"When that dang Martin Gelinas scored in overtime?"
"Hard to believe," the puck said.
"And the Wings had been shut out -- twice in two games! -- by a No. 6 seed, and they were done for the season and --"
"OK!" the puck said. "Stop!"
The stick stopped. It sighed. At least I think it sighed. It's hard to tell with sporting goods.
"One full year," it said.
"Hard to believe," added the puck.

nhl- Record Setting Day

The NHL lockout today reaches 233 days, breaking the record set by MLB during its ’94-95 strike for the longest work stoppage in the history of North American professional sports.

nhl- Sens Owner confident a Deal will be Done

via the Ottawa Sun, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Sun yesterday that he's confident the NHL and NHLPA will have a collective bargaining agreement in place for the 2005-06 season to start on time in October. In fact, Melnyk said Senators president Roy Mlakar has informed employees they will be back to five-day work weeks at full salary starting May 30, while many who have been laid off could be back by mid-July. "We're going to get back to business as usual," said Melnyk. "I'm the eternal optimist. I'm hopeful that we're going to have a deal in place and I'm excited because I believe hockey is going to be back in the fall. "We've had the employees on four-day work weeks and we've basically been going with a skeleton staff. We're assuming we're going to have a season next October and we've got to have everybody in place to be ready for it." Melnyk said he couldn't comment on the use of replacement players, but he's confident NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Bob Goodenow will find common ground. "I just hope for everybody's sake that hockey is back in the fall," said Melnyk. "I really miss it. Events like the Kentucky Derby are great, but to me there's nothing like a Saturday night watching hockey."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

nhl- TSN Insiders discuss CBA Meeting

McKenzie, Burke and Healy talk (will open WMP video) about today's meeting.

blog- Update

Google Adsense is implementing some changes to their adsense program and some of the ads appearing on certain areas of Breaking Sports are in a "test" mode.
Things should settle down in the next day or two and the ads that will appear will be a combination of text and image ads.
Also, after great deliberation, I have decided to stick with Blogger as my blogging source. The deciding factor was I would lose my top ranking on many of the search engines and would basically be starting "fresh" if I would have made a move to another service.
The stability issues that I have experienced in the past seems to have been taken care so here I stay.

nhl- Recap of CBA Meeting

via the Toronto Globe and Mail (reg. req.), Once again, the focus of the negotiations was on trying to make the numbers work within a proposal the NHLPA brought to the table more than a month ago.
Under that framework, there would be floating team-by-team payrolls, with a defined upper and lower limits, linked to league-wide revenues.
The first NHLPA proposal, which was based on last year's total revenues of $2.1-billion, established the salary ceiling at $50-million and the salary floor at $30-million.
Sources familiar with the talks suggest that the two primary stumbling blocks from the NHL's perspective remain the same - the league wants a smaller gap between the payroll ceiling and floor, to enhance competitive balance; and it also wants the upper spending limit to come in at considerably less than the $50 million proposed by the players during the last meaningful negotiating session, which took place back on Apr. 4.
On the plus side, the two sides are now discussing a framework that may be acceptable to both, or as commissioner Gary Bettman likes to say, they are talking the same language.
On the down side, there is little to suggest that the two sides can agree anytime soon on what numbers to plug into the aforementioned framework. Bettman has said that the dispute is now down to dollars and cents, but that may be something of an oversimplification. Even if they can get closer on the numbers, there are also systemic issues that need to be addressed, relating to salary arbitration, qualifying offers, the rookie salary cap, the entry draft and revenue sharing, any of which could undermine the talks in a heartbeat.
Representing the NHL was the usual cast of characters: Bettman, chief legal counsel Bill Daly, outside counsel Bob Batterman, Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss, Bruins' owner Jeremy Jacobs, Predators owner Craig Leopold and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell.
The NHLPA was represented by executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver, outside counsel John McCambridge, director of business relations Mike Gartner as well as three members of the executive committee, Trevor Linden, the NHLPA president, plus Bill Guerin and Bob Boughner.

nhl- CBA Meeting

Today's meeting was centered on trying to get both sides on the same page of the high and low end of the salary cap. It appears that no movement from either side today but they are meeting again tomorrow.

iihf- Trash talking Euro

via Sportsnet, And the winner of the trash talking award goes to ... Finland's Jarkko Ruutu.
Ruutu didn't mince his words when took a verbal swipe at Sweden's Johnathan Hedstrom after the Swedes thumped their Scandinavian rivals 5-1 at the world hockey championship.
"If I ever play him again, I guarantee you I will beat his ass," said Ruutu. "He is a f---ing pussy. I challenged him a couple of times when he was on the bench. I invited him to fight me but he is a f---ing chichen. He s--- his pants in fear. I could see that."
Ruutu paused for a second before he launched into tirade No. 2.
"Write this. Anytime, anywhere. This is a challenge. If he wants, we are in the same hotel. I'm in D208. Tell him to knock first. I will be there. But knock first."
Hedstrom didn't take the bait.
"He is a clown," said the Swede.

mlb- Bary Bonds' Doctor

from USAToday, The doctor who performed knee surgery on San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has been reprimanded twice by the Medical Board of California and is currently on five years' probation for unprofessional conduct, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Dr. Arthur J. Ting of Fremont, Calif., successfully completed two years' probation in 1998 for violating business and professional codes. Then on April 5, 2004, he was put on five more years of probation after admitting to a second incident of unprofessional conduct, a board spokeswoman said.
The Arizona Republic obtained 30 pages of legal documents from the Medical Board of California that detailed a litany of allegations against Ting, dating to 1993 when he was accused of being "grossly negligent and/or incompetent in his treatment of a patient."
In May 2003, another complaint filed with the medical board accused Ting of hiring an unlicensed technician who saw some of Ting's patients, diagnosed their injuries and wrote prescriptions. In several cases, patients told the board they believed the man was a doctor.
The complaint also accused Ting of several other violations, including prescribing "dangerous drugs and controlled substances to friends and acquaintances, particularly athletes, for whom he kept no medical records or for whom the medical records were fictitious, inadequate or inaccurate."

wha- An open letter to the Fans

To all of our terrific, loyal friends in the hockey community: we have not forgotten you. First of all, we at the WHA would like to thank you all for your extraordinary patience and support. The thousands of emails and calls we have received with best wishes are what drive us on a day-to-day basis to make this dream of all of ours a reality. We miss hockey at the highest professional level as you do and are doing everything we can to try to correct this. We would also like to apologize for the fact that we have been remiss in providing any recent news or updates, and we will do the best we can to change that.
We have had a few setbacks along the way. We lost a major financial partner for the Bobby Hull Invitational at the last minute due to their concern over low turnout at some of the other exhibition events, as well as perceived fan frustration toward the NHL and its players. While we tried to show them that turnout in other leagues (AHL, OHL, etc) was at an all time high, and that the fan interest in the WHA and this tournament is very strong, we were unable to retain them as a funding source. We are however currently very close to replacing them with another source of capital and hope to be able to announce this within a week. We will at this time announce the new dates for the tournament. We would expect a start date in the first week of June. On the positive side today we secured a TV deal that will allow many more people to enjoy the tournament if they cannot come in person...more...

nhl- Clearly Workable

from the Palm Beach Post, The NHL and its players association return to the bargaining table today and Friday in Toronto, hopeful of recapturing the momentum for a deal that was generated by the union's latest offer more than a month ago.
"Their offer was clearly workable from our perspective," Bill Daly, the NHL vice president and chief legal counsel, said of the NHLPA's April 4 proposal. "It's something we felt we could have negotiated over, and remain willing to. But at this point, with a month having transpired, I'm not sure where it stands."
The impasse, which not only canceled the 2004-05 season but threatens the 2005-06 campaign as well, mainly concerns how much of the league's revenue should go to the players.
Daly said NHL owners found aspects of the players' last proposal "attractive," particularly its call for a negotiated payroll range with minimums and maximums for each team, to be adjusted each year based on revenue from the previous season. The offer was praised by observers for incorporating elements of both sides' negotiating platforms.
The parties have met once since then, on April 19, but the proposal was not discussed.
The two sides have scheduled two negotiating sessions per week for this week and the two following weeks in an effort to move more quickly toward a settlement.
"We're trying to create some sense of momentum, a sense of moving forward," Daly said. "The players' association is in agreement that we want to pursue a more aggressive schedule."
After the NHL Board of Governors met April 20, Commissioner Gary Bettman warned the players that further delays in an agreement will reduce the amount of money on the table.
"It all relates to our ability to sell for next season," Daly said. "Most of that selling takes place in the spring, and while we certainly continue to intend to conclude an agreement ... in time to start the 2005-06 season, without that certainty, our season-ticket holders, sponsors and advertisers are more likely to move their dollars elsewhere."

iihf- USA vs. Canada

For those of us who cannot see the game today, you can listen to it via Team 590 Radio in Toronto. Game time is 2pm EDT.

nhl- Dom says get a deal or Else...

from the NY Times (reg. req.), Tie Domi of the Toronto Maple Leafs said he would like to be a fly on the wall today when the National Hockey League and the Players' Association resume collective bargaining in Toronto to end the lockout that canceled the 2004-5 season.
"If these guys don't get a deal done, there's going to have to be new faces in there," Domi said, referring to Commissioner Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow, the executive director of the union. "There's a lot of ego, and they don't want to put their pride aside. The fight is over. These two guys have got to get a deal done. They'd better, or they won't be around too long."
The two sides last met on April 19, and they are scheduled to negotiate again in Toronto tomorrow and in New York on Monday and Tuesday. The union has capitulated to management's demands for a salary cap and a limited linkage between payroll and revenue, although the thresholds are not as strict as Bettman wants.
However, an optimistic Bettman said recently that the sides were talking about similar ideas and that the main hurdle was to negotiate financial figures. Several team executives have said they wanted to settle soon so that season tickets and sponsorship deals could be sold in advance of the season, which usually begins in October.
According to a union negotiator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of bargaining, the union would accept a payroll range of $30 million to $50 million per team in a package that would include a luxury tax for high-spending teams and significant revenue-sharing to help low-income franchises...more...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

nhl- Player Movement Talk

from foxsports, Despite the ongoing NHL labor dispute, there are — incredibly — still some rumors of potential player movement floating around. Here's the latest:
read on...

nba- Marketing the NBA Finals

ABC will dub the four games needed to win the NBA Finals “The Fantastic Four,” as “part of a joint NBA and 20th Century Fox promotion behind” the feature film of the same name slated for release July 4th.
ABC will air commercials that mix highlights from playoff series with scenes from the film. Activation begins this week with a series of “I Love This Game” ads produced by NBAE, in which the four Marvel Comic superheroes depicted in the film play basketball against Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson. ESPN/ABC Sports President of Customer Marketing & Sales Ed Erhardt described the deal as involving “co-promotional spots.”

iihf- Draper & Matlby can now Grind

via the Toronto Globe & Mail (reg. req.), The Grind Line finally has something to do Thursday when two-time defending champion Canada takes on the rival United States at the IIHF world hockey championship ( 2 p.m. EDT).
Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby make their living with the Detroit Red Wings shutting down the opposition's top line. They weren't really needed in wins over Latvia and Slovenia, but all that changes with Mike Modano and Doug Weight centring the top two lines for the U.S.
"I take a lot of pride in these kind of situations and these kinds of matchups," said Draper, who turns 34 later this month. "I've played a lot of hockey against both (Weight and Modano). They're different players but they're both world-class.
"That will probably be up to Habby (head coach Marc Habscheid) as to who he wants Malts and I against, but we know why we're here. This is our job."
"As a hockey player you thrive on it, you want to be put in these situations," Maltby, 32, said Wednesday after practice. "Hopefully we can have a little bit of the success we had two years ago against Forsberg."
That success in 2003 elevated Draper to a new level, eventually landing him the Selke award as top defensive NHL forward in 2004, an honour long deserved.
"It was a huge thrill," Draper said. "I think my role has expanded over the last two or three years in Detroit. And I was given a very large role here at the 2003 championship, it did a lot for me confidence-wise. Going out and playing against Forsberg every time he's on the ice, or playing against (Mats) Sundin or Pavel Datsyuk, it just gave us a lot of confidence and just carried over to the NHL.
"The most important thing is winning Stanley Cups or world championships, but to be recognized individually was pretty neat."

nhl- Fischler Speaks

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, Yes, NHL-NHLPA on-and-off meetings will continue until the “union” meetings, May 24-26. But, no - sorry - progress of any significance is as likely as Winnipeg rejoining the NHL. Bob Goodenow’s strategy is summed up in one word: STALL! He thinks his “union” is better off waiting until September before getting serious. Memo To Bob: It’s over, but you don’t know it!
The threat by Sidney Crosby’s reps to negotiate a European deal for 2005-2006 should not be taken too seriously by NHL leaders. One league observer tells us, “That’s just politicking on his agent’s part.”
As for The Kid’s drawing potential, he might sell out rinks the first time around. But if the 17-year-old turns out to be a latter-day Al Daigle or Greg Joly, his drawing power will be from Dudsville. Our advice to Crosby: Hey, Sid, you want to go to Europe. Good-bye. Please. GO!
more and more...

iihf- Experience the Atmosphere

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, This is not a place to get a good night's sleep. And for that matter, an afternoon nap is pretty much out of the question as well.
This is a place that is playing host to hockey's world championship, and even though interest in North America is sometimes muted, it's a major event in this part of the world. Nationalistic fervour still runs high in an increasingly unified Europe, and for most hockey fans in this part of the world, this is the major event of the year.
It is a time to paint your face with the colours of your country. It is a time to make sure you are never seen in public unless you are wearing a sweater proclaiming your allegiance. It is a time to shout national chants, to sing national songs and to engage in quaint national customs -- like getting so drunk that you can't stand up.
The Latvians and the Finns are particularly adept at that last one, but they're not alone. The bars, restaurants and gasthauses take a cavalier approach to the licensing hours, which in some cases involve a 5 a.m. closing time, and as a result, there is no such thing as a quiet evening.
You can go back to your hotel if you want, but likely as not, a group of well lubricated fans will wake you when they come staggering home. And they don't all arrive at once. It's remarkable that even though they can hardly walk, they can time their arrivals with such military precision that they are meticulously sequential. Every half hour with astonishing regularity, another group gets in.
Naturally enough, fans from each nation tend to stick together, so some hotels have lots of fans in residence, whereas others don't have any. Those hotels tend to be the ones across from the churches...more...

nhl- Goodenow vs. Bettman

Things being said about Bob and Gary.

pssst- Wanna buy a Yankee Cap

A Yankee cap caper had cops scratching their heads last night.
A truck loaded with 47,000 Bomber hats headed to Yankee Stadium was hijacked yesterday, a team spokesman said.
The missing truck was due to deliver the caps in time to be given out to fans at this weekend's series against the Oakland A's.
More details about the robbery were not immediately available, said team spokesman Rick Cerrone.
The truck was still unaccounted for last night, and Yankee officials had to quickly put their thinking caps on to come up with an emergency giveaway plan.
Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for Yankees boss George Streinbrenner, said the hijacked truck had about half the caps the team planned to hand out atthe games on Friday and Saturday.
The original plan was to give caps to the first 18,000 fans 21 years old and older to show up at the Friday game and to all fans at the Saturday game.
Rubenstein said the plan now is to give everyone either a cap or a voucher for one and hope the truck shows up with the runaway caps

mlb- Bonds- More Surgery

from the San Franciso Chronicle, Barry Bonds' comeback bid took a further turn for the worse Monday when he underwent yet another arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, this time to clean out an infection, The Chronicle has learned.
The surgery, performed in Southern California, was the third on Bonds' right knee since Jan. 31, when he underwent an initial procedure to remove damaged cartilage. On March 17, Bonds had a similar operation to remove torn cartilage.
His attempts to rehabilitate the knee and return to the field have been stalled by swelling that has not allowed him to perform required exercises.
On Sunday, Bonds posted a journal entry on his Web site saying he flew to Southern California to be examined by Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum and had the knee drained of fluid to ensure "there isn't any infection and that I'm healing properly." It was the second time he had the knee drained in eight days, and the third time since the March 17 operation.
The Chronicle has learned the knee indeed was infected, and an operation was performed Monday to flush out the infection using fluids and antibiotics. Bonds is expected to take antibiotics for at least the next two weeks, and he would not restart rehabilitation work until he is assured the infection is gone....continued...

nhl- ESPN & the NHL

from the Toronto Globe & Mail (reg. req.), The slow progress of National Hockey League labour talks could jeopardize the one U.S. television deal that produces a rights fee for the league.
In fact, a late agreement between the players and owners -- one that wouldn't be reached until August -- could kill any hope of ESPN2 carrying games in 2005-06.
"If it's a last-minute deal, I don't think ESPN will be interested," a television source said. "I wouldn't be shocked if, say, in August, ESPN said to the league, 'Look, you haven't got a deal. We'll talk to you in 12 months. We're not going to be held hostage with our schedule for a year.' It's a killer for a network when it has only 30 days to go out and sell the advertising."
That's why it's critical for the NHL to reach a deal with the players by early June, and then quickly come to an agreement with ESPN. (The league has a revenue-sharing agreement in place with NBC, but rights fees aren't involved.)...more...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

media- Selling the Super Bowl

ABC is pitching advertisers on Super Bowl XL-themed packages “that would begin as early as the first game of the season and incorporate many ABC and ESPN properties, culminating with an ad on Super Bowl Sunday,” according to SportsBusiness Journal’s (paid sub.) Andy Bernstein. Bernstein obtained a copy of an ABC marketing presentation that has the letters “XL” in the middle of the page, with “Super Bowl” and the ABC logo across them in a much smaller size. Various advertising outlets surround the logo, including “SportsCenter,” ESPN Radio, ESPN Classic, ESPN The Magazine and ABC “will try to broker deals with the NFL” for non-sponsors, allowing for “one-time, limited use of the Super Bowl mark.” Those advertisers “would have to pay a marketing fee directly to the NFL.” A network source said that the fee “could range from six figures to well north of $1[M].” ESPN/ABC Sports President of Customer Marketing & Sales Ed Erhardt said that he hopes “to have as many as five or six major brands involved in the Super Bowl ‘in a multimedia way’” .

nhl- Bettman deferred House Committee Invite

from the LA Times (reg. req.), NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman deferred an invitation to appear Thursday in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in order to resume labor talks with the players' association, Bill Daly, theleague's chief legal officer, said Monday.
"Unfortunately, because of the pre-existing conflict we had with having committed to meeting on Thursday and Friday with the union, we will be unable to be in Washington on Thursday," Daly said. "We do, however, look forward to participating in this important initiative and hope that an alternative date can be scheduled in the near future."
Although progress appeared to have been made last month, when discussions centered on a salary cap that would vary by team and rise or fall with NHL revenue, negotiators couldn't agree on the cap range or on issues such as arbitration and free agency. Sources said the union proposed 27 as the age for free agency, four years sooner than under the last CBA, but the NHL hasn't agreed.

Former Michigan AD Canham in Critcal Condition

Former University of Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham is in critical condition after crashing his car this morning near his home in Ann Arbor. The accident was caused by a "medical condition" Canham suffered before the crash.

update 5:38pm, Mr.Canham passed away earlier this afternoon.

nhl- Drug testing for the NHL

from the Toronto Sun, When the NHL comes back, it will return with drug testing.
NHL president Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Bob Goodenow were scheduled to appear before Congress on Thursday to bring U.S. politicos up to speed on the drug question in hockey. The testimony was scuttled because of scheduling issues, but when and if Bettman and Goodenow speak, they will endorse the idea of a drug-testing policy.
"In future discussions with the league, we don't believe that there will be a difficulty in reaching a consensus on the issue of testing NHLPA members," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin reaffirmed via e-mail.
"It will be bargained," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said. "It's on the to-do list."
Currently the NHL does not test players for drugs. The league has been exceptionally lucky.
Unlike baseball, the game hasn't been devalued by players such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, who the public assumes used steroids to obliterate long-held records. There have been no incidents such as the 2003 death by heatstroke of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, attributed to the use of the stimulant ephedra.
But there have been rumblings on the matter...more...

Monday, May 02, 2005

nhl- ESPN holds the Cards

from the NY Times, The National Hockey League, still without a labor agreement for the 2005-6 season, is also without a commitment by ESPN to carry its games.
Not that the league has much influence on ESPN's decision on whether to pick up an option to pay $60 million by June 1 for the rights to carry games next season. What little leverage the N.H.L. had evaporated when it canceled the 2004-5 season.
Commissioner Gary Bettman's league needs ESPN more than ESPN needs it. The N.H.L. needs the national platform that ESPN offers to maintain a presence as a major sports league and to satisfy its sponsors.
Bill Daly, the league's executive vice president, said: "We had a session with ESPN last week, and the homework is in their court. They're looking at other possibilities, but they have an option at $60 million with a certain package, and we'll see what they say."
Daly disputed the view that the league lacks any leverage against ESPN.
"Both parties understood a year ago that losing the entire season was a distinct possibility and the agreement called for certain things in the event that happened," he said. "We're abiding by that agreement." on...

nhl- Not as close to a Resolution as NHL says

from newsday, At a time when the quest for the Stanley Cup usually begins to get serious, the NHL and NHL Players Association will look to get serious at the negotiating table.
Starting Thursday in Toronto, the sides will begin a six-meeting schedule over the next three weeks, looking once again to find an end to the seven-month lockout.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that with the union now negotiating a salary-cap system, the talks are now down to "dollars and cents."
The NHLPA warns that the situation isn't as close to a resolution as it's being presented by the league, which needs something to convince ESPN, other corporate sponsors and season-ticket holders that there will be an NHL season this fall.
"They want everybody to think it will be business as usual," said a person with knowledge of the situation.
There were reports that the talks might have to be held up this week so the league and union could have their turn to appear before the Congressional Reform Committee to discuss their steroid policy. But with the league shut down, the politicians decided to allow the labor talks to continue. The NHL and NHLPA do agree on one thing: A drug-testing policy will be included in the next collective-bargaining agreement.

mlb- Players reject Selig Request

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the Major League Baseball players' union Monday rejected Commissioner Bud Selig's proposal to significantly increase penalties for steroid use, saying the current policy was working out fine.
In an open letter to union chief Donald Fehr, Selig proposed a 50-game suspension for players testing positive for steroids for the first time, a 100-game suspension for second-time offenders and a lifetime ban for any player caught a third time.
Selig also called for more random testing and a ban on amphetamines.
Under the current policy, agreed by the owners and players and which went into effect on March 10, players are suspended for 10 days after the first positive test, 30 days following a second offence and 60 days for a third.
In a letter to Selig dated May 1, Fehr said: "The players support the current program and are confident that it will deter the unlawful use of steroids and are understandably reluctant to renegotiate the existing agreements."

nhl- League files another charge against NHLPA

via TSN, The National Hockey League has filed an unfair labour practice charge with the U.S. Labor Relations Board over the NHLPA's attempts to be ''certified'' as a union in British Columbia and Quebec, TSN has learned.
Sources said the NHL made the filing today, charging that the NHLPA's efforts to apply for certified union status in those provinces on behalf of the players on two teams - the Vancouver Canucks and the Montreal Canadiens - is an unlawful attempt to withdraw from the ''multi-employer bargaining process.''
It is the third time the NHL has filed an ''unfair labor practice'' charge against the NHLPA with the NLRB.
There is a provincial labour hearing tomorrow in B.C. on the NHLPA application, which is part of the process to become certified.

nhl- Nobody Cares

Last week I mentioned this and finally someone else realizes the NHL is losing some top notch people.

from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, After typing another one of my rants against the National Hockey League, I got into a heated debate with a long-time professional hockey executive.
The topic turned to the collateral damage from the industry shutdown -– all the men and women from league and team front offices that were leaving the business voluntarily or otherwise.
“Nobody cares about those people,” the executive barked.
To a large degree the executive was correct. The passing of these good men and women hardly created a stir among fans.
Sometimes there was a note in the newspaper or a mention on radio or TV . . . but most times not.
These are the people who always pay the price when billionaire owners mismanage their business and give millionaire players too much. These are the people who usually suffer the most when there is a shutdown. They are the true martyrs in this senseless labor war.

mlb- Juan Rincon, Busted

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Juan Rincon was suspended for 10 days Monday, making him the fifth player disciplined under Major League Baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Rincon's agent, Ed Setlik, said a grievance was planned. But unlike other penalties, suspensions under this policy take effect immediately and are not delayed pending a hearing.
"Suffice it to say, he was devastated and stunned by the result," Setlik said after speaking with Rincon.
The 26-year-old Rincon was a key contributor to the Twins' AL Central-winning team last season. He went 11-6 with two saves and a 2.63 ERA in 77 games. This year, he was 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 appearances.
Rincon has a $440,000 salary this year. The suspension will cost him $24,044.
The penalty also will hurt Rincon's chances to earn bonuses of $10,000 for appearing in 68 games, $20,000 for 73 games and $30,000 for 78 games.

nfl- Kellen Winslow Jr.Hurt in accident

Just in...
Winslow was injured in a motorcycle accident today. News reports say he was tossed over the handlebars and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Sources saying injuries are not life threatening.

nhl- Betrayal Continues

I slacked off a bit yesterday so here is Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune from Sunday, Well, here we are, May 1, and still nothing in the form of an agreement between representatives of National Hockey League club owners and the players union in their bitter contract dispute. It's been a week since Bobby Orr had the guts to stand up and say what was on his mind in The Eagle-Tribune about the disastrous effect so-called leaders of the game were having on the sport. Like so many others who care about what has happened, what the effects are in this ridiculous tug-of-war, and what the result will be, the damage already done had festered to the point where someone of Orr's stature needed to come out and say it. For a couple of days it was a hot subject in Canada. Newspapers, national TV networks and radio stations -- particularly the call-in talk programs -- reflected on Orr's guest column comments. "He was right on target. He cares about this game and the people who have been hurt by this craziness. There's no faith in either side. They're killing the game," said Roy MacGregor, the highly talented veteran columnist of The Toronto Globe and Mail. Yet leaders of both the NHL and the union went on with their sham...more...

nhl- Talking again Thursday

via TSN, The NHL and NHL Players' Association will resume collective bargaining negotiations on Thursday and Friday in Toronto.
Sources told TSN it doesn't look as though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be called to the U.S. Congressional hearings on the use of steroids in sports on Thursday, so the league can proceed with its originally scheduled negotiating session with the NHLPA.
Sources say two more bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (May 9 and 10) of next week in New York City before representatives from both sides go to Austria for the World Championship. No meetings are currently scheduled to take place in Austria, but the two sides are slated to get back together again May 18 and 19 in Toronto.
The NHLPA has scheduled a membership meeting, where hundreds of players are expected to attend, for May 24 in Toronto.

nhl- When it comes Back

from The Dartmouth, Day 229 of the NHL lockout. The season was officially cancelled 75 days ago. Wait, you stopped counting already? Isn't it a little too early to give up?
It's safe to assume that there aren't too many people left counting the days of the NHL lockout. It was once a topic worthy of debate, though now too much time has passed for most to care. As Bobby Orr recently lamented, is hockey actually in danger of becoming irrelevant?
Let's put this current lockout in context. As it turns out, most professional sports have a fairly extensive history of labor-related work stoppages, in the form of both strikes and lockouts. In the four "major" sports -- baseball, basketball, football and hockey -- every league has experienced some form of labor dispute that has resulted in missed games.

nhl- 38 Years Ago

Not much NHL talk today, but 38 years ago tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens to win their last Stanley Cup. I am sure Leaf fans will appreciate that bit of history.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Bettman answers a few questions.

Q: This is usually a showcase time of year for the NHL. Playoff games would be sold out and you would be on TV pretty much every night. How much does it hurt not to be playing right now?
GB: "It is incredibly painful and incredibly disappointing for us here at the league office, for people at the teams and most importantly for the fans. We wish this was something we didn't have to go through, but unfortunately the economics of our game require that drastic measures be taken."
Q: Is using replacement players definitely out?
GB: "All we have said is that we will not open next season on time unless we have a new collective bargaining agreement in place with our players. We have not made any decisions beyond that."

nhl- NHL before Congress

from the NY Post & Larry Brooks,
  • Originally scheduled to begin a two-day round of collective bar gaining meetings on Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA may have to defer to a higher authority, and, no, we're not talking about Bobby Orr.
    Slap Shots has learned that Congress' House Government Reform Committee has targeted Thursday to hear from the league and union regarding the NHL's steroid-testing policies, with Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow expected to be called to testify. The league last month complied with the committee's request for documents outlining its drug-testing policies.
    Though testing for stimulants, steroids or performance-enhancing drugs has not previously been part of the NHL-NHLPA drug-testing program, league players have been subject to Olympic testing beginning with the league's participation in the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
    There's no word, by the way, whether grandstanding — we mean, ranking — committee members Tom Davis and Henry Waxman will urge that the 2005-06 season begin on time for the sake of the children.
  • Did you see where league VP Bill Daly responded to the NHLPA's move to certify itself as a union in British Columbia and Quebec by saying: "As the NHL will never foist replacement players on the ticket-buying public, we are unconcerned with the PA's maneuver."
    Oh, our mistake, he didn't quite say that at all, did he?
    If all 2004-05 NHL player contracts are alleged to have essentially been stricken from the books, then why have teams been honoring certain provisions in those contracts, such as deferred payment and signing bonus payment obligations? The disposition of those contracts is not a clear-cut issue, not at all. And the league is very much aware of that.
    At the same time, certain provisions of the expired CBA remain in force, specifically the grievance procedures. Why just recently, a grievance regarding a plus-minus bonus payment was decided in favor of Pavel Brendl.
    No; honestly. Who could invent something like that?
    And yes, of course, 2004-05 contracts and all attendant issues will be part of the CBA negotiations. But if the league continues to stonewall into the summer at 54 precent, there is nothing stopping the PA from filing a grievance on behalf of all league players arguing for a full contract slide — citing the Alexei Yashin precedent — or encouraging individual players to file default notices for non-payment for the cancelled season.
  • MSG Network, we've learned, is investigating whether it can televise select games from the World Championships now that ESPN has once again given the cold shoulder to hockey that has left U.S. viewers in the dark.
    But it doesn't look good. We're told that Fox Sports looked into the matter but backed off after being told by the governing IIHF that it would only sell the complete tournament package to the network, and at a fee that was judged exorbitant.
    ESPN is claiming scheduling conflicts as an explanation for why it wussed out. Right. Games involving the U.S. and Canada are being played at 10:15 in the morning and 2:15 in the afternoon (EDT). Can't have a seventh showing of the previous night's Sports Center bumped for Martin Brodeur, can we?

nhl- Grandfather Contracts

from Newsday, The NHL thought it cleverly turned the players association's proposed 24 percent salary rollback against the union by offering a scaled rollback that would have a much lighter impact on lower-paid players. Instead of winning the favor of the players, it failed miserably, reeking of a union-busting move.
In the five months since, the league still has been able to cause enough of a rumble within the players' ranks to pull union head Bob Goodenow into a negotiation of a salary-cap system. But to finish the job, it has to make another attempt to appeal to the players.
Several players and others with knowledge of the union's thinking agree that one concession the league should consider is grandfathering current contracts.
The league's fight for cost certainty is not about what was spent in the past but what it can afford to spend in the future. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that several times throughout the course of this lockout, which, for those few masochistic souls keeping score, will on Friday become the longest shutdown in North American sports history when it passes the 1994 baseball strike at 233 days.
And as it has dragged on, what the players have feared most even after accepting a salary cap is the initial cause-and-effect a cap will have on team rosters. Imagine fire sales that would put Howard Milstein to shame...more...