Breaking Sports

Saturday, May 14, 2005

iihf- Canada beats Russia



nhl- A Player responds to your Questions

Today's questions come from Hbk27, he had plenty of them and by answering these they may cover questions by others from Breaking Sports.
First let me say the cancellation of the PA meeting is the right move. There is nothing to discuss right now, we get all the information we want at the PA website and both Bob and Ted are very accessible by phone at any time.

Q1- I'd like to thank the ananymous player for taking some time out to answer some questions. It seem like the NHL has done a much better PR job throughout this mess, so I'm interested to hear what a player has to say. I have a lot of questions, and appreciate any answers:
Why didn't the NHLPA agree to meet to discuss the CBA prior to December of last year? It seems like the NHL wanted to hold meetings prior to the expiration of the past CBA, but the NHLPA wouldn't meet since the NHL was insistent on a cap (which the NHLPA declared it would never accept...until a few months later).
BSP- Hey Hbk27, no problem answering some of the questions submitted here. I can tell most people who have questioned me are true hockey fans and want the game back on the ice. As PK mentioned earlier, I am a web freak and doing this is actually kind of fun and at the same time I am getting out my views of the CBA. I have read some of the responses to my previous Q & A sessions, and just wanted to say I am not taking the company line, my views are being expressed here and I believe the views of the vast majority of the NHLPA are the same.
In regards to your December question, there were informal talks going on but we knew exactly what the NHL wanted and there was no way we were interested in the hardline tactics.

Q2-In hindsight, seeing how these past few months have gone with very little progress, what do you wish the NHLPA would have done differently?
BSP- This is just my opinion, but I thought making an offer to discuss a salary cap was not the thing to do. But many players thought by offering a cap, it would save the season, but the NHL remained dead set against our cap figures. We still would be in the same position today if no cap was offered by us.

Q3- Do you ever see the NHL and NHLPA forming somewhat of a partnership during your career? Do you think it's best for both sides that Goodenow and Bettman be asked to step aside in the near future (regardless of whether a deal is reached or not)?
BSP- I not only hope for a partnership, but expect a true partnership with the next CBA. Without it, the players are just puppets controlled by the NHL. With a partnership, both sides will be working for the same goals; improving the game, attracting and retaining new fans and making the game more exciting.

Q4- What happened back in February, during the meeting following the cancellation of the season (when Gretzy and Lemieux attended and it was being reported that an agreement had been reached)? There were rumors going around that this was a set-up by the NHLPA...that members leaked false information of an agreement to either pressure the NHL into accepting a $45M cap or even to embarrass Gretzky and Lemeuix for their pro-ownership stances.
BSP- It is my understanding the figures that the NHLPA thought were agreed upon, suddenly changed. Gary Bettman had an early breakfast meeting that day with a few of the owners, go ahead and google that day, find out who he had breakfast with and you may put an end to this mystery.

To read the previous session with BSP, go here.

nhl- Baby steps & an Out

bia the Ottawa Sun and Bruce Garrioch, Sources say the two sides made "baby steps" in the CBA talks this week in New York, but they remain 2-3 weeks away from tackling the bigger issue of a salary cap.
There is a belief once the two sides get down to trying to agree on a cap number that negotiations will blow up, which means commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Bob Goodenow will walk away from the table.
Still, sources say many of the NHL's owners and players are anxious to get a deal done because they want to know the summer can be spent getting ready for next season.
While negotiations to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association will continue on Tuesday, many union members are getting calls to go overseas in August.
Though European clubs had initially insisted players sign contracts without an escape clause, many have dropped those demands because they're willing to take the risk the lockout will stretch into September.
"What I've found is that the amount of activity in Europe has really increased in the last two or three weeks," Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey said yesterday. "I would think you're going to see guys signing there.
"(European) teams were originally trying to make these players lucrative offers to stay for the whole year by trying to get them to sign deals without escape clauses. That stipulation has been dropped and a lot of teams are offering the out-clauses now, if there's a new CBA in place."
Although playing in Europe wasn't a positive experience for everybody, some teams have never had better attendance and they want to cash in on having NHL players.
"Obviously, a lot of the European clubs want the European players to come back and play in their home towns if the lockout continues. That only makes sense, but that's not the only interest we're getting for players," said Walsh. "I would think in the next few weeks you'll see players signing over there for next year. They want to protect themselves in case this lockout extends into next season."

Friday, May 13, 2005

nhl- Players are the Game

from Foxsports, The suggestion has been raised during the NHL lockout that the league's product is not the game but the players themselves.
Naturally this suggestion raises the ire of hockey fans, and even a few pundits, who find such a statement preposterous. They instead believe it is the game and the teams — not the players — that form the product and thus deserve the first loyalty of those who support the National Hockey League.
There is no question that a hockey fan's first loyalty is almost always to his team. Be they followers of an Original Six franchise like the Montreal Canadiens, a post-1967 expansion club like the Philadelphia Flyers, a former WHA franchise like the Edmonton Oilers or a more recent expansion club like the Tampa Bay Lightning, their devotion to these clubs is passionate.
The game itself is an obvious selling point. When it is well played at the highest level, the NHL game is the fastest team sport in the world, living up to its moniker, "The Coolest Game on Ice".
But what is it that makes the game so enticing? What is it that draws fans out to support their favorite teams?
The players...more...

nhl- LA Kings season ticket holders not Happy

from the Los Angeles Business Journal, When the National Hockey League season got canceled, the owners of luxury suites at Fleet Center in Boston got a refund for part of the $200,000 they spent to see Bruins and Celtics games.
A generous accommodation was made to Arrowhead Pond suite holders, who got a refund or a credit – with 5 percent interest – on money they paid to see Mighty Ducks games.
Not at Staples Center.
Bills sent out for the 2005-2006 season, which also includes Lakers, Clippers and other games and events, made no mention of any credit or refund for the 41 L.A. Kings home games lost.
In fact, prices went up by between 3 percent and 7 percent, to as high as $360,000 for one of the 160 suites. And there’s no guarantee there will be an NHL season this year either.
That’s ticked off some suite holders who believe they are being treated unfairly. All Kings season-ticket holders received their money back or credits for the next billing cycle, while corporate sponsors that committed to additional ad space at Kings games were not billed for the hockey season.
“They should have come forward with some form of compensations for the missed Kings games,” said Norris Bishton, president and chief executive of the Noarus Auto Group, which owns five area dealerships. “I am surprised and disappointed. There has been no communication – nothing.”
continued...

nhl- PA Cancels Meeting

via Sportsnet, With not enough progress made in recent meetings between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association, the union has cancelled its players-only session scheduled for May 24. No new date has been set for any future meetings.
"The NHLPA's negotiating committee decided to cancel our upcoming player meeting and this decision was confirmed Friday evening following a conference call with our team player reps," NHLPA President Trevor Linden said.
"In early April, when we set the May 24-26 meeting dates we thought these dates would work well to allow both North American and European-based players to get together. Since our late-February meeting with 156 players in Toronto, we decided there is not sufficient new information to justify another meeting at this time."

pga- Woods misses Cut

Tiger Woods finally has a weekend off, missing the cut Friday at the Byron Nelson Championship to end his record of 142 consecutive cuts made over the last seven years on the PGA Tour.
Needing a par on the 18th hole at Cottonwood Valley, Woods hit a 7-iron left into the bunker and could get no closer than 15 feet. The putt hung on the right lip and stayed there, as his shoulders slumped ever so slightly. He turned his putter perpendicular to tap in for a 2-over 72, leaving him at 1 over par for the tournament.
The cut was even par.
"I just didn't quite have it," Woods said.
The streak dated to the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Woods withdrew instead of returning nearly seven months later to complete the third round in the rain-delayed tournament. The cut was made after 54 holes at Pebble because it was played on three courses.
The only other time he missed a cut was the 1997 Canadian Open, where he also bogeyed the last hole.
The streak ended in a fitting place. The cut streak long had been associated with Byron Nelson, who made 113 consecutive cuts in the 1940s, a record many thought would never be topped.
Woods broke that record in the 2003 Tour Championship, although that was among 31 tournaments during the streak that did not have a cut. Eliminate those, and his streak was 111 tournaments.

blog- Comments Unavailable

Blogger will be doing some back-end work at 5pm EDT. today. Therefore, comments will be disabled for about 1 hour.

nhl- The Levitt Report

Before Breaking Sports was created, I recalled reading an article about "The Levitt Report". I finally located it and it is from our good friend Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune.
I have a feeling we may be reading more about TLR in the upcoming days so this may be a good read to get you re-acquainted with it.

Last February, the NHL released what it called an independent report on its finances prepared by Arthur Levitt, the longest-serving chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a former American Stock Exchange chairman.
Levitt was paid $250,000 by the league, plus expenses. Overall, the report cost $1 million.
"The Levitt Report" confirmed the NHL's claim of a league-wide operating loss of $273 million for 2002-2003. The NHL, which claims it lost another $223 million last season, hired a public relations firm to trumpet the bad news.
Bettman has repeatedly referred to the report as "a superaudit," implying its findings can be taken to the bank.
In fact, it is not an audit.
Levitt himself calls the report an "independent review."
Richard Delgaudio, a professor of accounting and auditing at Merrimack College in North Andover who is a certified public accountant and nationally known lecturer on accounting, explained the difference between an audit and a review.
"An audit implies that you look at documentation and source documentation," he said. "A review is when you just kind of look things over to see if it seems right."
Delgaudio is one of several experts who examined the Levitt report for The Eagle-Tribune. They did not question the work that went into the findings, but said the report was clearly not an audit, let alone a superaudit.
"If anybody calls this a superaudit, you give them my number," said Nelson Blinn, a 36-year certified public accountant from Haverhill and member of the Banknorth auditing committee. "This is absolutely, unconditionally not an audit. To pass it off as one is nonsense."
read on...

The Ultimate Roadtrip

from Newsday, Peter Farrell and Andrew Kulyk first outlined their vision of the great North American roadtrip in a setting where wacky ideas are usually hatched: In a bar over beer.
"What if," they said, "we could visit all 30 NHL arenas?"
With each round of drinks, the two friends from Buffalo expanded the plan: They would attend a home game of every NHL, NFL, NBA and major league baseball team.
When they walk into RFK Stadium Friday night to see the Washington Nationals, Farrell and Kulyk will have done them all.
From Arrowhead Pond (Stop 25) to Arrowhead Stadium (Stop 51); from Petco to Arco to Invesco; Joe Louis, Raymond James and Ralph Wilson; from Yankee and Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger. They've been to Fields and a Fieldhouse, Domes, Yards and Gardens, Centers and Centres, Parks, a Place and a Palace.
That's 122 franchises, 107 venues, 49 cities and counting. They finished their original plan in December 2002 with a stop at Detroit's Ford Field, but the journey continues to include teams that have relocated _ like the Nationals _ or moved into new facilities...read on...

Pete and Andrew's website.

nhl- Yzerman- Season will start on Time

Yzerman was on local Detroit radio this morning and said he feels the season will start on time. CBA is slowly progressing and feels since the NHLPA proposed a salary cap in in February, their is no reason not to get the numbers right for both sides.

nhl- Dealing with Concrete Issues

via the NY Post, They tackled a major root of distrust and skepticism yesterday, and still the NHL and its Players Association are willing to talk to each other.
Dealing with concrete issues rather than nebulous concepts, the sides locked horns on the infamous league-commissioned Levitt Report, the financial study that became the NHL's justification for its lockout.
The union has consistently attacked the Levitt Report, which claimed massive financial losses and warned of fiscal devastation to come.
During yesterday's five-hour session, the sides also spent significant time and energy discussing what constitutes team revenues, a basic issue that remains a significant dispute, one which must be resolved for most larger questions to be addressed.
The financial and economic issues will be reviewed within smaller-group talks planned for next Tuesday and Wednesday, probably in Toronto, with a full-scale bargaining session scheduled Thursday.
"We . . . had a thorough discussion of NHL team financial reporting practices," NHL VP Bill Daly said. "In addition, we provided a detailed overview of the Levitt Report and the work that was performed underlying that report."
The sides extended Tuesday's session, at league request, to Wednesday and yesterday. The league is pressing to reach a collective bargaining agreement in short order to promote season ticket sales, settle television and advertising deals, hold a draft and avoid massive July free agency chaos.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

nhl- Just Do It

from John Davidson and MSG Network, I sure do think both the NHL and NHLPA both have heightened senses of urgency with this latest round of meetings. But what is the deadline here? Is it another year? Is it September or July 1st?
To me, maybe of all of those deadlines, the completion of this negotiating process by July 1st is the most important of all. If nothing's accomplished by then, things just won't matter much for awhile. They're going to lose sponsorships, not to mention the draft where you have a celebrated player in Sidney Crosby. And there's issues with free agency that need to be cleared up.
It's getting to the point where there are less and less people caring every day. The sooner they get this fiasco rectified, the sooner you hit the ground running and try to get business going again. There will be a lot of business to work on, and it generates excitement. People will want to know what their favorite teams are going to look like and who they're going to have.
I've said this many times in the last few months, NOW is the time to just DO IT. Get it going. This whole thing is just goofy. Where it's gotten is beyond comprehension. The damage that's been done is -- you hope -- repairable. This has been life-altering for a lot of people. And if this lockout keeps going, I don't know where hockey's going to go...more...

nhl- Next Week is Crucial

It appears that both the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to a little bit of give and take. The CBA meetings scheduled for next week are to establish the high and low ends of the salary cap.
The next question is, how far is each side willing to give in to end this lockout. Next week is crucial. Expect a news lockdown for the next week. If there is a leak in information, it will be a sign that one side is not buying into the proposal that is being worked on.

nhl- NHLPA Statement on CBA Meetings

NEW YORK (May 12, 2005): At the conclusion of today's meeting in New York, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
"We completed three days of meetings on competition and economic issues with the league. An additional three days of CBA discussions have been scheduled next week, with the first two days dedicated to reviewing economic and financial reporting issues."

nhl- Release from the NHL on CBA Meetings

Three days of talks conclude in New York; sides to meet again next week.

NEW YORK (May 12, 2005) - Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today resumed their discussions regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. After the meeting, the following statement was released by Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer:
"We met today for the better part of five hours and had a thorough discussion of NHL team financial reporting practices. In addition, we provided a detailed overview of the Levitt Report and the work that was performed underlying that Report. The parties have agreed to continue the process with smaller group meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a full group bargaining session on Thursday."

nhl- CBA Update

via TSN, The NHL and the Players' Association concluded their three-day meetings in New York after a bargaining session that lasted just under five hours on Thursday.
After not being involved in yesterday's talks, NHL chairman Harley Hotchkiss was back in the negotiating session while Nashville owner Craig Leipold, who had been there yesterday, was not. The NHL also brought along an assortment of accounting-related people, some from the league head office and some from the accounting firm that prepared the Levitt report.
On the NHLPA side, outside legal counsel John McCambridge was back at the table after not being there yesterday while executive committee member Vincent Damphousse was not there. The NHLPA also had some economic consultants attend today's session.
Most of the time was spent going over the league's Unified Report of Operations (UROs), the Levitt Report and team-by-team financial analysis.
By all accounts, it's a laborious process and it's too difficult to tell whether any progress was made.
The good news, though, is that none of the negotiating principals are going to Austria for the world championship and the two sides will get together again on Tuesday.

nhl- CBA Meeting Over

No information yet, will keep you posted.

Commissioners to testify next Week

The commissioners of Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer will testify next week at two days of congressional hearings about legislation calling for standard steroid testing across U.S. sports.
In a witness list released Thursday, the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee said it will hear from baseball's Bud Selig, the NBA's David Stern, the NHL's Gary Bettman, and Don Garber of MLS on May 18, with the NFL's Paul Tagliabue appearing the next day.
Baseball players' union head Donald Fehr, NBA players' union chief Billy Hunter and former U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chairman Frank Shorter will also testify.
The subcommittee's chairman, Florida Republican Cliff Stearns, proposed the Drug Free Sports Act on April 26.
His panel's inquiry is separate from that being done by the Government Reform Committee, which heard from baseball players and officials on March 17, the NFL on April 27, and is scheduled to hear from Stern on May 19.
The leaders of that committee have said they are writing legislation of their own.
Stearns' bill would have the Commerce Secretary oversee drug-testing rules and calls for a two-year suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second. Leagues that don't comply would be fined at least $5 million.
Any such bill is expected to face an uphill fight in Washington.
"It is clear that legislation is needed to establish uniform standards and heavier penalties for steroid use," Stearns said. "Professional sports expect world-class performances from their players, and these athletes should be subject to world-class testing standards."

iihf- Czech's edge USA in Shootout

Just like last year's quarter-final, it came down to a one-on-one confrontation between Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun and USA defenseman Andy Roach. This time, however, Vokoun won the battle, and his Czech team grabbed a 3-2 shootout victory that puts them into the semi-finals.
It was sweet revenge indeed for the Czechs after being ousted on home ice last year by the Americans.
In the early going, the Czechs often dominated play but never seemed to hit their full stride. It was almost as if they thought they were still in an earlier round of the tournament, as they played too much perimeter hockey. The Americans, meanwhile, played smart, defensive, opportunistic hockey and forced the Czechs to rev it up in the final 20 minutes to come back from a 2-0 deficit.
It turned into an intense, emotional contest, with the Czechs outshooting the USA 53-27. Rick DiPietro got the start in goal, despite Ty Conklin's big wins in last year's Final Round run to the bronze, but the New York Islanders youngster performed heroically to keep his team in the game.
Martin Rucinsky was the sole player to score during the final shootout, overtime having settled nothing.
Mike Modano and Mark Parrish opened up the lead for the USA in the first and second period respectively before Marek Zidlicky and Jaroslav Spacek replied for the Czechs in the third.

iihf- Final- Canada 5, Slovakia 4



nhl- More questions answered by BSP

Q1-How can any "union" member expect the ordinary fan, who's annual household income is far less than that of a SINGLE paycheque of the average NHL expect to recevie any kind of symapthy? Futhermore, how about the THOUSANDS of people who's everyday income has been seriously impacted, all while the "union" is looking for a "fair deal"?
Get real, wake up and come back to reality.
By BringBackHockey
BSP- First of all, we are not looking for any sympathy nor do we expect the fans to jump on our bandwagon for this cause. What we want is a fair deal and one that establishes guidelines that will give us the ability to increase our annual wages if the NHL prospers. As a player, I consider myself to be in the entertainment business to an extent. The decision is always yours to support the players or teams and if you feel we are not worth the money you pay to watch us, then you do not watch. It is a simple as that. These words are not meant to be harsh but if I don't like a certain actor or actress, I don't pay the money to watch the movie. The same is true in the business of sports and I feel that will continue.
The businesses that are suffering from this lockout is very sad and unfortunate. It was not our decision to be locked out, but at the same time, these people are suffering because of the lack of a CBA. What can I say, I do visit these establishments on a very frequent basis, hoping I can at least help them out a bit. I would suggest every one who reads this do the same.

Q2-Hi player,
I just want to say that I support the NHLPA 100%. I agree that the players deserve a fair deal. Don't give in to the owners.
By Anonymous
BSP- It is not a matter of giving in and it will never be. At this point in time, it is all about getting a fair deal. Many of the owners would have signed off on a CBA months ago, but there is a key group of owners who want that "cost certainty".

Q3- Did you expect this lockout to last this long?
By Anonymous
BSP- We have been prepared for this lockout to last anywhere from 12-24 months. Did I expect it, yes but I really hoped we would be playing by now.

Read the previous Q & A here.

nhl- Good Dialogue

from the NYPost (reg. req.), Sick as they are of each other, the NHL and the Players Association didn't call off today's third straight day of negotiations.
The sides spent yesterday here working on smaller but vital issues that are the necessary foundations to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement and end the NHL's lockout, which is headed toward a second season.
They haven't been able to agree on what constitutes team and league revenues, or player compensation. Those are among the first issues that need resolution to ensure another February fiasco doesn't occur, when the sides discovered they were still talking apples and oranges instead of reaching an 11th-hour deal.
"Good discussion," NHL VP Bill Daly said. "It would be hard to characterize it as "progress" on payroll calculation issues, as there are still differences of opinion/philosophy. But it was a good dialog."
The sides also discussed formation of a competition committee with joint player/club representation to examine rules, equipment, playing issues and security.

nhl- Fischler Writes...

from Stan Fischler and FoxSports,
  • In the Disappointment Department, what happened to AHL-leading Jason Spezza? He and his top-scoring Senators choked right out of the playoffs. Since it was Spezza, should we be surprised? Don't think so.
  • Is Scotty Bowman being ignored by the NHL's make-hockey-better board? Some Bowmanites in Buffalo are getting that impression. One of Bowman's more radical ideas is four-on-four for the final five minutes of regulation; then three-on-three in overtime.
  • Despite the ugly labor mess, NHL marketers are looking ahead. A binder is making the rounds of ownership. It's title: "A Whole New Game: NHL Business Operations and Marketing Plan".
Much more...

Happy 80th Yogi

Yogi Berra was born 80 years ago today in St. Louis, Mo. What better way to celebrate than with a few Yogi-isms.
  • "He must have made that before he died." -- Referring to a Steve McQueen movie.
  • "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early."
  • "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."
  • "Do you mean now?" -- When asked for the time.
  • "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."
  • "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours."



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

nhl- More info on CBA Meeting Today

via the AP, "Among the topics covered this morning were various accounting issues relating to the calculation of club payroll in the context of a new economic system," Bill Daly said.
So far, no headway has been made on the central issue - the team-by-team salary cap - and the time finally came to talk about other issues that will impact the game once a deal is reached and the NHL is back on the ice.
The NHL made a new offer to the players last Thursday in Toronto, but no progress was reported by either side after talks ended Friday.
That proposal was spawned by a union offer April 4 that contained a hybrid concept, addressing the relationship between player salaries and league revenues. It contained an upper cap of $50 million and a floor of $30 million.
As before, the sides have not come close to an agreement on the values of the caps or how wide a range there should be between the minimums and maximums.
Daly said Wednesday's salary cap discussion centered on lower and upper limits.
The sides will reconvene Thursday morning to talk about annual financial statements from each club and how teams divulge their finances, Daly said.

blog- Way off Topic- Google Adsense

I have received 30 or so emails in the past few from people asking me how do I like using Google Adsense and how much money do I make from the ads.
Even though Google Terms of Service allows us to disclose (a policy change in the last few months) our income from the ads, I prefer not to but do comment I would not be using Adsense if I was not satisfied with the income. I use Adsense on all three of my blogs and am quite happy with the results.
A great Adsense Demo(it asks for your url, if you do not have one, just enter any url) is now available and is well thought out and very informative. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I can also recommend you for Google Adsense since you do have to be approved into the program.



nhl- It is about Time

from Russ Conway and the Eagle Tribune, There was a full room when negotiating teams for both the National Hockey League and its players union — 10 players on each side — resumed talks yesterday in New York over their bitter contract dispute.
And for the first time in God knows when, the two sides actually emerged from this conclave without mention of their "no progress" theme that has constantly haunted negotiations since the NHL's lockout began last Sept. 15.
In fact, in a sudden reversal of form, they actually announced that they have decided to meet again today, and believe it or not, again tomorrow.
It's about time.
read on...

nhl- Recap of Meeting Today

from CP, The NHL and Players' Association continued their labour talks Wednesday, discussing ''various accounting issues'' among other topics, according to the league.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again Thursday.
''Among the topics covered this morning were various accounting issues relating to the calculation of club payroll in the context of a new economic system,'' Bill Daly, NHL executive vice-president and chief legal officer, said in a statement. ''We also discussed the potential formation and role of a competition committee with joint player/club representation and participation.''
Daly, commissioner Gary Bettman and outside counsel Bob Batterman were at Wednesday's meeting as well as New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold, NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, NHL general counsel David Zimmerman and lawyer Shep Goldfein.
Representing the union were NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver, director of business relations Mike Gartner and players Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin, Bob Boughner, Vincent Damphousse, Trent Klatt and Brendan Shanahan.

nhl- Bob & Gary Show will Continue

from ESPN, Forget the Donald Trump fantasy.
You know, the one where The Donald, sitting in his boardroom, looks disapprovingly and annoyedly at Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman and says, "You couldn't negotiate a one-way street with a map. You're both fired."
Then he turns to Carolyn and George and shrugs his shoulders. "I had no choice. They've already frittered away one season and look like they're headed for number two. Now where's my brush?"
Sorry, puck fans, it's not going to happen.
In spite of suggestions from almost every vantage point, including some players, that the National Hockey League's commissioner and the executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association should step back to ensure there will be a 2005-06 season, this is and will continue to be the Bob and Gary Show...more...

nhl- good News from Yesterday

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, OK, so Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow didn’t sculpt a new Collective Bargaining Agreement after nearly four hours of meeting in New York Tuesday.
But we didn’t expect one anyway, did we?
Of course not.
What I anticipated was that the meeting would explode with such rancor the conference would be over within an hour and both NHL and NHLPA negotiators would immediately jet to Europe for the World Championships, as planned.
“The best news,” participant Lou Lamoriello tells me, “is that everyone is staying over on Wednesday and Thursday for more meetings.”
Like others on the league negotiating committee, the Devils CEO-general manager entered the Tuesday conference concerned about its outcome.
“It’s certainly not negative that they’ll continue talking,” Lamoriello adds. “I always consider that a good thing.”...continued...

nhl- How much Longer

We are all aware the casual NHL fan has moved on long ago and could care less about the NHL. Most of the people who visit Breaking Sports are true NHL fans, you can tell by their comments they express when posting a comment here or on other NHL forums and blogs.
When do we just fold up the tent and pack it all in. Personally, I will continue to blog about the NHL but lately even the mainstream media has put the NHL on the backburner.
I am very interested to read your comments why you still follow the CBA talks and more importantly, how will you react to the NHL once it starts up again.
Today Breaking Sports has received numerous hits from people who may be very interested to read what you have to say. This may a great opportunity to make your voice be heard.

nhl- A Player answers your Questions

Q1- The thing I want to know is...
Whats wrong with linkage? (my guess is they don't trust owners)
Does he really think the game can survive with a cap thats more than half the NFL?
Those are my questions... Thanks
KMC in Ottawa
BSP- IMO there is nothing wrong with linkage as long as all sources of revenue are used and one big thing, allowing the PA a voice in all decisions involving the game. The NHL has yet to establish a partnership with us, they want linkage but they want to control all aspects of it.
Using the NFL as an example just will not work. Comparing us to any sport is not fair due to the revenue generated by TV contracts. Why do people use the NFL as a comparison board is beyond me. We want a partnership yet the NHL only wants us to share in the loses, not in any of the possible gains.

Q2- Being a Flyer fan, what do you think some of the big time owners being silenced by Bettman in this whole mess? Wouldn't you want people like Snider, Ilitch and owners such as this involved in the negotiations? By FlyerFanatic
BSP- I am sure some of the owners you refer to are being heard even though they are not part of the negotiating team. Can they make a difference in these negotiations, sure they can but Gary has promised a lot of the owners who bought into the league in the last 15 years cost certainty and is under pressure from those owners to deliver what he said to them.

Q3- Why don't you guys just sign the CBA and get it over with. The NHL is a joke and I am embarrased to say I am still a fan.
BSP- Believe me, I am embarrassed and too. We all want to play hockey, but until a fair CBA is proposed, nothing will be accomplished. The NHL has made the same proposal with different bells and whistles on it. If they really want to establish a partnership like they have been saying, the offer they keep on using has to change.
Again, we understand changes need to be made and we have offered numerous options, the NHL has offered none.

Part one of this Q & A can be found here.

nhl- Pinching Dollars

from the Buffalo News, "Never going to make that money back," said Boulton, the Buffalo Sabres' fourth-line winger who was supposed to make $600,000 this season. "A lot of money gone out the window. Hopefully it'll be worth it in the long run for the future of the game."
Players certainly aren't alone in feeling a pinch. The entire Sabres coaching staff had their paychecks cut in half. Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn and General Manager Darcy Regier took voluntary 25 percent salary reductions.
Everyone affiliated with the NHL - agents, arena ushers, hot dog vendors, local tavern owners and restaurateurs - was affected by the lockout, but some more so than others.
Those who made anywhere near the league average salary for a few seasons should have been prepared for the predictably lengthy lockout. Others had difficulties.
"Everyone thinks we're all millionaires, but I'm far from a millionaire," Boulton said. "I've played four years in the league, and I've saved enough to start a future after hockey. But I'm not swimming in it. Two years before I was playing in the NHL I was making $14,000 in the East Coast Hockey League."
read the full article...

mlb- World Baseball Classic

MLB and the MBLPA will announce either today or tomorrow that a 16-team tournament, “tentatively called the ‘World Baseball Classic,’” will be held over three weeks during spring training in ’06. This would be the first event “involving major league players representing their home countries.” A union official said that MLB and the MLBPA will run the tournament via “an MLB subsidiary called World Baseball Classic Inc.,” which will include MLB, union and IBAF officials.

nhl- Stuck in Neutral

from the NY Post (reg, req. as of may 3rd), Working the boards, digging in the corners, battling inch-by-inch, they're still getting nowhere. While hockey unrealistically waits for an elegant game-breaking finesse play to end the NHL lockout, the process of negotiation has become one of grinding it out, or grinding the other side down.
The NHL and its Players Association will square off here again today, and tomorrow, barring flared tempers, with no significant progress said to have occurred in 31/2 hours of talks yesterday. Although both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Bob Goodenow postponed their trips to the World Championships in Austria to remain in the meetings, those itinerary changes don't appear momentous.
"No new positions, proposals or adjustments," NHL VP Bill Daly said of yesterday's meeting.
The league has been pressing the PA to hurry up and surrender to allow it to make arrangements to open next season on time in October. Matters such as a draft, season-ticket sales, advertising deals and television contracts and slots are issues the league says are time-sensitive.
The Players Association has done much of the giving in these negotiations. It first offered an across-the-board 24 percent salary giveback, then in a futile last-ditch effort to save last season, proposed a floating salary cap after more than a decade of refusing to consider a cap.
The sides remain far apart on the payroll range under a cap plan, the union proposing a $30 million base and $50 million top, with exceptions and luxury taxes. The league has moved around from $32 million to $42 million, and threatened to scale back, for an upper limit, with base payrolls topping at $25 million. But even the makeup of such cap plans are widely diverse, to the point that they shouldn't both be called by the same "cap" term.
They also disagree strongly on the issue of linking revenue to payroll, although the union has indicated willingness to adjust its plan once the game is back in business and the damage can be verified. The most basic issue of what constitutes revenue is yet another battleground that remains unresolved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

blog- System Maintenance

Sorry for the problem tonight if you tried to access Breaking Sports between 7pm-9pm EDT. Blogger was running a maintenance program that took a little to long.

nhl- Statement from the NHL

Sides meet on Monday(NHL typo), more talks scheduled

NEW YORK (May 10, 2005) -- Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association met in New York today for further talks pertaining to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The League was represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman; Bill Daly, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer; Colin Campbell, Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations; David Zimmerman, Senior Vice President, General Counsel; Board of Governors Chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames; Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs; Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold; New Jersey Devils President, CEO and General Manager Lou Lamoriello, and attorneys Bob Batterman and Shep Goldfein.
The Players' Association was represented by Bob Goodenow, Ted Saskin, Mike Gartner and Ian Pulver, players Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin, Bob Boughner, Vincent Damphousse and Trent Klatt, and attorney John McCambridge.
Upon the conclusion of the meeting, Bill Daly released the following statement:
"The Union has agreed, at our request, to remain in New York to continue meeting in smaller groups over the next several days on a variety of sub-issues that need to be addressed in connection with a new CBA."

nhl- a Player Responds

To make this easier for everyone, our Breaking Sports Player(BSP for short and no pun intended) will answer a few questions(submitted in this post) tonight and continue to do so on a daily basis until they are completed or the CBA is signed, ha!
A little background on BSP- An American born player and has spent at least 7 years in the NHL. An internet junkie, spends a lot of time on the web and has responded many times in this blog and a few others. Never has posted as an Anonymous person.
I have never met this player but after talking on the phone, we have found out we have a few mutual friends.
I hope you continue to show the courtesy most of you have shown when responding in the comments to "hot topics". Remember, we are all fans and even though our opinions may not be the same, we all want the game back as much as the next person.

BSP- Let me first say I hope to cover all of the questions submitted by the readers here. I have visited this site on a daily basis and have found it to be a great source for all of the stories about the CBA and the NHL, even though some of those stories have been way off base. Also, thanks to PK for "forcing" me to do this and making it very easy to respond to these questions. He has formatted everything for me and is also using a spellchecker, lol.

Q1- With the NHL's current lack of a decent tv deal, can you honestly expect a salary cap at 50 million? Does that honestly seem realistic? To me it sure doesn't. Also, in terms of revenue sharing...the NFL mostly just share the tv contract (which is huge)...but my understanding is that the NHLPA wants a lot more than that shared by the NHL?
BSP- Salary cap at $50 million is news to me. There may have been talk of that in February, but not anymore. The TV contract issue is not the doing of the NHLPA, it is all the NHL and we as players would and have requested so, to be more involved with marketing the game. I for one think our stars should be the focus of the NHL marketing, players like JI are not even known in the US. Even in Original 6 cities, people have no idea who Dany Heatley is, let alone that he is a hockey player. That is just wrong and needs to be fixed.
We do not expect anything close to the dollars the NFL brings in from their TV contract. But on the other hand, we want an input on the direction of marketing, sort of a partnership which lately has been an evil word.

Q2- Which NHL city has the best strip joints?
But seriously, can the players afford not to play again next year? Does the chance the owners get what they want increase the longer this drags on?
The owners are in the wrong on this IMO, it's not up to the players to control the owners' spending habits. But it doesn't seem like Goodenow is bargaining in the PA's best interests.
BSP- A non-NHL city has the best strip joint, or so I have been told.
With the current situation of the CBA, we cannot afford to agree to the terms the NHL has put forward. We are asking to share with them the income that we think the NHL can generate in the upcoming years. Our views and that of the NHL differ right now on what that income should be, but we feel strongly that our way would work if given the chance.

The BSP will be forwarding more answers to me on a daily basis and some days even more than once a day.
Thanks BSP and we want our game back. comments are welcome and if more questions arise, BSP will attempt to answer them.

nhl- More on the CBA meeting Today

via the AP, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Bob Goodenow will hold labor negotiations Wednesday and Thursday instead of going to Austria for the world hockey championships.
The change in plans occurred Tuesday after a 3 1/2-hour bargaining session in New York, the eighth official meeting between the sides since Bettman cancelled the entire hockey season on Feb. 16 because of the lockout.
After eight hours of meetings last week, and contentious comments made by both sides through the media about the other, the negotiating atmosphere seemed to be poor. But the principle negotiators decided to delay their European trips and remain in New York for further discussions.

nhl- Something is Up

I have heard the NHL and the NHLPA may finally be negotiating. Details are hard to come by right now but as soon as I hear something, it will be posted.

nhl- NHLPA Statemnt

NEW YORK (May 10, 2005): At the conclusion of today's approximately 3 -1/2 hour meeting in New York, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) released the following statement:
“The parties met today in New York City and at the conclusion of the meeting they agreed to set aside time for additional meetings tomorrow and Thursday.
The NHLPA will not comment on the status of the negotiations until after this series of meetings concludes later this week.” - Jonathan Weatherdon, NHLPA spokesperson

nhl- CBA Meeting Over

via TSN, The NHL and the Players Association's latest meeting has wrapped up in New York. The two sides met again in hopes of jump-starting negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement following a two-day session last week in Toronto.
The next scheduled dates for the two sides to meet again are set for May 18 and 19, but it's not out of the question they'll meet before then. It was not confirmed but some small group sessions could take place in the next couple of days with possibly more meetings planned for next week.

nba- A Suite without a View

Five new luxury suites at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the home to the NBA's Detroit Pistons and WNBA's Detroit Shock, are set to open this fall.
They've already been leased for $450,000 a year despite lacking at least one thing the fan in the nosebleed seat gets: a view of the court.
The underground suites offer exclusive access to the Courtside Club, a leather and wood-finished bar and restaurant where suite-holders and guests can mingle. For those not content to watch the action on a plasma television, the package includes tickets to the front-row VIP section.
Another eight underground suites leasing for $350,000 a year are to open in the spring of 2006. As part of a $23 million Palace expansion and renovation, the project also will add an 800- to 900-person dining area and an expanded food court and retail space on the ground level.

nhl- Anyone Disagree

Telling it like it is (will open QT video).

nhl- Does Goodenow want a Deal

from TSN and Bob McKenzie, In the latest round of sniping between the NHL and NHLPA, a question was raised: Does NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow really want to get a deal done?
Now, far be it for us to get caught in the crossfire or rhetoric between the warring factions, but it's an interesting question, especially for those of us who have known Goodenow for as long as we've known him.
Obviously, Goodenow and Gary Bettman want to get a deal done. But now that it looks as though any deal will include a salary cap and more than likely linkage too, it is fair to ask if Goodenow is prepared to do this type of deal.
Because for as long as I've known Goodenow, I can't imagine he would willingly put his name on something like that. A salary cap? Linkage? Bob Goodenow? Superman was more likely to wear Kryptonite underwear.
Related Info
* NHL Insider
In any case, the bigger issue is where is this whole CBA mess headed and what is Goodenow's strategy?...read on...

nhl- Will they come Back

I messed up yesterday and thought the article I posted was part 2 of from Russ Conway.
Actually, this is part 2.
From Russ Conway and the Eagle Tribune, "What do they think? They're going to get away with this?" said Farina, a 37-year-old chief warrant officer stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., after a year in Iraq.
"They've insulted every NHL fan that ever was. I take it personal," he said. "They think the NHL's going to survive because the fans will just show up. I've got my doubts."
And if a fan like Farina has his doubts, hockey is in big trouble.
Die-hards like Farina are angry, but at least they care. Legions of fans tuned out when the lockout began, and hockey will have to regain their attention before it can hope to win back their loyalty.
Even the Boston Bruins, one of the NHL's original six teams, is in a precarious position...read on...

This and That

  • The company that provides security at Yankee Stadium settled a lawsuit yesterday filed by two fans who claimed they were illegally thrown out of the stadium after one took a picture of Yankees C Jorge Posada’s wife. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed; the fans were said to be demanding $6M.
  • MLB will release “Oh Say Can You Sing” today, an album featuring “a collection of originals and covers” by MLB players, including: Indians 1B Ben Broussard, Reds 1B Sean Casey, Marlins RF Jeff Conine, Indians CF Coco Crisp, Tigers P Matt Ginter, D’Rays RF Aubrey Huff, Padres P Scott Linebrink, Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins, HOF SS Ozzie Smith, Giants SS Omar Vizquel and Dodgers P Kelly Wunch.
  • The NHL and NHLPA today are expected to resume CBA negotiations in N.Y.

nhl- Laraque loses It

from the Edmonton Sun, Edmonton Oilers tough guy George Laraque lost a few fans after he hurled an obscenity at a woman during a weekend hockey game.
The woman was watching the charity game Sunday between her brother's team, the Fatheads, and Laraque's team, when the rugged winger yelled an obscenity at her at Parkland Arena.
Laraque later apologized, said Charlotte Barton.
"He said 'sometimes when I play in a game I get way too into it and words come out of my mouth that I don't realize I'm saying and regret them later,' "said Barton, 24.
Laraque, who wouldn't say what he said, insisted the woman was hurling obscenities his way first.
"And then I just responded to them," he said.
"They were sitting behind their team and then they switched sides and were sitting behind me and they started swearing at me and I just responded.
"If somebody swears at me, I'm going to swear back. I would never do or say anything stupid. I'm the type of guy who stands up for myself, I'm a tough guy.
"If someone swears at me, I'm going to say something back. It's not like there were kids there.
"I apologized because of what happened."

As a side note, whenever I hear of a cussing episode, I always go back to the famous Tommy Lasorda tirade (will open realmedia audio & sfw).

Monday, May 09, 2005

nhl- An important Meeting

from Stan Fischler and Foxsports, The umpteenth "Let's Do A CBA" meeting between Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow on Tuesday in New York is being billed as THE big one by two NHL team presidents.
"Tuesday will tell," one of the negotiators plainly states. "It's a big day."
"It could go either way," another veteran executive tells me. "We could be on track for a deal or the whole thing could blow up and we'll be back to Square One."
My sources tell me to expect the latter.
They insist that neither the commissioner nor the Players' Association boss are anywhere near a deal.
The key is that Bettman is sticking to his vow that the longer it takes the NHLPA to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement, the worse the league's proposal will get.
"There won't be a deal," a club executive insists to me.
His assertion is valuable because not once since the lockout's start last September has this official been wrong in his CBA analysis.
"The union's mistake was not taking Gary's offer of a $42 million cap in February," the high-ranking club executive explains. "The commissioner promised that it would go down and it has."
According to one reliable source the last offer was for a $32 million cap with a floor of $22 million. The luxury tax would start at $28 million.
How Goodenow expects to sell his strategy to the all-membership players' meeting, May 24-26 in Toronto, remains a moot point.
His policies have resulted in the following difficulties:...read on...

nhl- Are they getting Closer

from Foxsports, For those hockey fans who still care, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association completed two rounds of talks last week with what appeared at first glance to be a sign of genuine concession from the league.
According to a report on Sportsnet.ca, the NHL last Thursday tabled a new proposal to the PA, which included "a stiff luxury tax system, with a tax structure adjustable to accommodate the rate and threshold on how the proposed CBA would be working."
The NHLPA has been seeking a luxury tax and increased revenue sharing since its first proposal to the league nearly two years ago. Sportsnet suggested the league's offer would be "a dollar-for-dollar tax with revenue sharing among the NHL generated from this system."
This would certainly be an improvement over the league's internal proposal last December (subsequently leaked to the media) of creating a revenue sharing pool by taxing all playoff clubs and then distributing that pool among struggling small-market non-playoff teams.
Indeed, it's a considerable step up from subsequent league offers of implementing a luxury tax, not as a revenue sharing scheme but to placate the PA.
But before you all get excited over this supposed concession by the league, let's look at the fine print.
Reports suggested the league is still seeking a salary cap system worth with a "floor" of $25 million and a "ceiling" of $35 million.
That's still too low for the PA's liking, which is believed seeking a cap ceiling somewhere between $42 million and $50 million...more...

nhl- Hold them Accountable

Part 2 of the problems facing the NHL. From Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune. Part 1 can be found here.
I am giving you the best paragraph from the article...It's time for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, players association executive director Bob Goodenow, club owners and players to be held accountable by elected leaders in the United States and Canada for their own betrayal of the public trust.
Read the rest here.

mlb- Percival Out

The Detroit Tigers are getting hit hard with the inury bug. Troy Percival, the closer for the Tigers, is now out 4-6 weeks with a forearm injury. Injured it while warming it up in the bullpen on Saturday night.

nba- Talking Pistons - Pacers

The Detroit Free Press reports that in preparation for tonight’s Pacers-Pistons Game One at The Palace Of Auburn Hills, which comes almost six months after the November 19 brawl, surveillance cameras “will monitor the area around the [Pacers] dressing room nonstop” and security guards will be stationed “outside the room the entire day.”
N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said of the series, “This is (NBA Commissioner David) Stern’s worst nightmare. … What he’s tried to do for the whole season is put distance between November 19th and the trophy in those dopey commercials they run” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN,).
The Detroit Free Press' Drew Sharp notes that this “might not be [Stern’s] worst nightmare, but he couldn’t have anticipated this scenario” when he handed down punishments to Pacers F Ron Artest and the other brawl participants .
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand writes that the NBA playoffs “could use a bit more buzz right now, especially after the two Game 7’s Saturday night were blowouts.”
Pistons C Antonio McDyess: “All eyes will be on this series because of what happened.”
An Indianpolis Star editorial states, “The fervent hope is that it will be a memorable basketball series, that The Brawl will be little more than a juicy little subtext to this series. Can we ignore it? Absolutely not. Can we put it into some kind of perspective? Absolutely.”
The Detroit News’ Rob Parker writes, “The Pacers have an image problem. Thanks to those players who took part in the now-infamous brawl in November, some fans outside Indiana look at them as thugs.”
USA Today’s Jon Saraceno writes, “I’m not too worried about either of these teams losing their professionalism again. … I’m more concerned about the minority of wing-nuts who call themselves Pistons fans.”

nhl- Question a Player

Today, a current NHL player left a comment in this post. The comment is as follows:

First of all, let me tell you that I am a player in the NHL. That being said, this article just shows you what we as players have to go through. Bob has never gone to the press with any spins yet it continues almost on a weekly basis from the NHL side. Why do they continue to do so, because they are trying to splinter us as a group yet little do they know it is actually bringing us closer together as a group. In the CBA negotiations last week, our legal team did catch a major blunder on the part of the NHL and as Ted mentioned yesterday, the NHL should release the proposal that they made to the media. You and I know that they will never do this, because if they decide to correct the mistake that they made, Bob would be all over it and prove to the media that the original proposal was changed. We as players are just asking for a fair deal, we understand that contracts that we once had will never be seen again. Is that too much to ask?

I responded to that comment saying I could not verify the comment came from a player. He later emailed me, I have spoken to him and he has agreed to answer some of the questions you may have.
Please leave the question in the comment section of this post only or send me an email with a question for him( all questions must be in by noon EDT tomorrow). He will post a follow up thread tomorrow evening answering all of your questions. Please make sure your comments are civilized and pertinent to the CBA only.

nhl- Gretzky to coach Yotes

from the EastValleyTribune, You can ice all those Great-One-to-New-York rumors. Wellplaced NHL sources report that the Coyotes and Wayne Gretzky have all but agreed in principle to a new, three-year contract extension — one that positions him to step out of the owner’s suite and behind the coaching bench — with a formal announcement expected this week.
Next up, you can expect an extension for Rick Bowness — who will resume his former role as assistant. The second assistant spot, still expected to be former Coyote Rick Tocchet, likely won’t be filled until the new collective bargaining agreement arrives from Mount Olympus.
But, if the NHL winds up with replacement players on the ice next January, a replacement Gretzky will also have to be found.

nhl- Trying to save the NHL

Manchester, NH- The Eastern League Champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have invited Executive Director of the National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA) Bob Goodenow, National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman, and NHLPA President Trevor Linden to Fisher Cats Ballpark to attend a Fisher Cats game and meet to resolve the current NHL labor dispute.
Letters were sent out to the three executives on April 27 inviting them to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement during a Fisher Cats game in a luxury suite at Fisher Cats Ballpark. The Fisher Cats are willing to cater the bargaining session and provide hotel accommodations and travel between the airport, hotel and ballpark.
“We at the Fisher Cats are obviously baseball fans, but we are also hockey fans, and more importantly, sports fans. Sports play an important role in the lives of all North Americans, young and old. Hockey training camps begin soon and we’d love to do anything we can to make sure the NHL is up and running in 2005,” said Fisher Cats Assistant General Manager Jeff Tagliaferro.
Fisher Cats President/General Manager Shawn Smith said, “As an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian team left in Major League Baseball, we feel an obligation to do what we can to help our parent club’s home city and country. Hockey is to Canada as baseball is to the United States. We are all anticipating the end of this lockout.”
The NHL lost the entire 2004-05 season and the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to the labor dispute. NHL training camps usually begin in September, leaving less than 4 months for the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement and begin preparing for the 2005-06 season.

nhl- Nothing has Changed

Nick Kyprios on Mojo Radio today and said this about the CBA. No closer than day one. Philosophy may be the same but when it comes to crunching the numbers, they are not even close to being on the same page. Nothing is going on right now. Owners waiting for players to cave and players hoping pressure will mount for owners.
Players have felt all along there has never been any revenue sharing talk. If the owners put true revenue sharing on the table, the players would start thinking on the same page. Until that point, the position of the PA will not change.

nhl- Come out Swinging

from the NY Times, In an unusually pointed exchange, even by the standards of their bitter lockout, the National Hockey League and its players union traded harsh words last night over a dispute that has scuttled one season and threatens another.
In the first salvo, Bill Daly, the league executive vice president, told Rogers Sportsnet, the Web site of a Canadian news media company, that the leadership of the N.H.L. Players' Association misled the players over the weekend when it reported to them the possible effect of last week's league proposal.
According to a story posted by Rogers Sportsnet last night, Daly, the second in command to Commissioner Gary Bettman, called the union's analysis "grossly slanted" and "sheer fiction."
Daly accused the union executive director, Bob Goodenow, of not wanting a settlement.
When asked for further comment last night, Daly, in a brief e-mail message, referred to the union's portrayal of the league's proposal as "total garbage."
"It appears more and more as if Bob is simply intent on continuing the fight, and trying as hard as he can to do whatever it takes to avoid making a deal," Daly told Rogers Sportsnet.
Ted Saskin, the senior director of the union, said in a statement from his home in Toronto last night: "I am not surprised that Bill would be embarrassed by what Gary and the league proposed to us on Thursday. I am surprised that Bill would be upset at us having informed the players."
Saskin said Bettman withdrew part of the N.H.L. proposal "after it became clear how ill-conceived it was."
The league and the union have been discussing concepts that include a salary cap, a payroll tax, a salary minimum, linkage between revenue and wages, revenue sharing among teams, and many other items of a new six-year agreement to end the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The two sides met last week on Thursday and Friday in Toronto, their first negotiations since April 19. Although they originally planned to meet in New York today and tomorrow, the first session was canceled. The session tomorrow is still scheduled.
Goodenow did not respond to telephone calls or e-mail messages, but his top aide, Saskin, spoke for the union.
"I challenge Bill to release their proposal to the public if they believe it is not being fairly analyzed," Saskin said. "We are totally confident that anyone who reviews the league's May 5 floating payroll tax proposal would be equally puzzled by its intentions and would also see just how unworkable it was."
In comments to Rogers Sportsnet, Daly said the league was at a critical period to plan for next season.
Although training camps do not usually open until mid-September and regular-season games do not begin until October, teams generally sell sponsorships and season tickets in the spring and early summer.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bringing in the Big Guns

via Sportsnet, Sportsnet has learned that IMG, which represents more than 75 NHL players and highly-touted prospect Sidney Crosby, has hired noted antitrust lawyer Jim Quinn.
Quinn specializes in high-stakes commercial disputes and has unmatched experience in sports and entertainment litigation. He is regarded as the most successful and influential litigator of sports antitrust cases in the past quarter century. He counseled and represented the players' associations in MLB, NFL, NHL and the NBA.
Quinn is best known for being the lead counsel for the NFL players in their historical dispute concerning the players' challenge to the antitrust player restrictions in the NFL.
Six of IMG's clients, including Crosby, are slated to be among the top 15 picks in the NHL draft.
It's thought that Quinn is the best person to understand all of Crosby's options in the event that there is no draft this year.

nhl- Who is Lying

from Sportsnet, Following two days of meetings in Toronto, the NHLPA issued a report to its membership, a communication which the NHL also got its hands on, sparking a sharp retort from the NHL's Bill Daly.
"If what has been forwarded to me is accurate, its very disappointing, to say the least," Daly said in a communication to Sportsnet. "Bob and I must have attended different meetings, since virtually none of the PA's version of events actually transpired."
"It's just another example of what we have faced since the start of this negotiation, a lot of misinformation from the Union to the players, and a constant manipulation of the process. It appears more and more as if Bob is simply intent on continuing the fight, and trying as hard as he can to do whatever it takes to avoid making a deal," said a clearly frustrated Daly.
Daly contends that the Union's spin on this week's negotiations was inaccurate, and its "analysis" and communication of the NHL's new proposal to the players "grossly slanted."
"Its clear that the Union spent Thursday night inventing an "analysis" that was not intended to meaningfully assess the impact of our proposal, but rather to create a worst case impact scenario that could never happen in the real world. Their so-called "analysis" was sheer fiction, and internally inconsistent in its assumptions and conclusions. It was absolute garbage. Its sole purpose to mislead the players couldn't have been more evident," Daly concluded...read on...

nhl- Both sidesTrapping

A MUST READ

from Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune, Imagine a hockey game in which both sides stubbornly stay behind their own blue lines and refuse to come out to meet their opponents except to trade insults.
It's the way the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association played the game as they sought to work out a new contract with the clock winding down on the 2004-2005 hockey season.
It was the first hockey game that both sides lost. With the season canceled, players and team owners threw away $2 billion in revenues and lost the hearts of fans.
In the end, the league and the players forget how to play hockey, a game that at its best combines contact with speed and finesse. The two sides in this match were out of touch, slow and clumsy.
They refused to come to grips on real issues until it was too late, let months pass without talking and missed opportunities to settle their differences and salvage the season...continue...

mlb- League Probing Bonds

from the New York Daily News, While Barry Bonds continues to rehabilitate his troublesome left knee, Major League Baseball is conducting its own investigation into the troubled slugger, major league sources told the Daily News.
MLB security officials are convinced that Bonds may be at risk of imprisonment over allegations of tax fraud, and are conducting their own probe into Bonds' relationships and activities. One official from another club said the San Francisco Giants' front office "is starting to freak out" over Bonds' mounting problems.
"I think they realize they've let the situation get away from them," the source said.
read on...

nhl- Another Deadline

from the Toronto Globe and Mail(reg. req.), The psychology of the collective bargaining process is perhaps the most interesting part of the debate now, as the National Hockey League lockout entered its 233rd day Friday, making it the longest work disruption in the history of professional sports.
Here it is, May already, and poll after poll provides more proof that the majority of hockey fans, both casual and serious, stopped caring about the sport a long time ago - and the longer the dispute drags on, the more difficult it will be to win them back.
That is a problem both sides share equally, since it becoming increasingly clear that whatever new CBA emerges, it will be tied to overall league revenues - which, at this stage of the game, are shrinking fast.
Instead of being bogged down in the minutiae, owners and players should work harder at plugging the numbers into the framework proposed by the NHLPA a month ago and get a tentative deal done in the next two weeks, or before the players gather, en masse, in Toronto for their most comprehensive meeting of the season...more...

nhl- A Hopeful Sign

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, The back-and-forth tennis match between the National Hockey League and its Players’ Association continues on Tuesday in New York and, for the first time, there appears to be a “love” game involved.
Although neither Commissioner Gary Bettman nor his union counterpart Bob Goodenow crafted a new Collective Bargaining Agreement during meetings in Toronto on Thursday and Friday, there was one hopeful sign.
Mind you, it’s a tiny one but nevertheless there appears to be a slight departure from the previously hostile mood of previous conferences.
One of the league’s chief negotiators – who has been consistently pessimistic in the past – tells me that he views a somewhat different aura in the negotiations.
“The tone was better on Thursday and Friday,” he tells me.
Now that doesn’t mean a deal will be formulated before June but it is a trifle hopeful.
Lou Lamoriello and our own Stan Fischler
“The fact that players were there helped,” my confidante adds.
In addition to Goodenow and his legal aides, players Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin and Bob Boughner participated in the talks.
Some analysts believe that they are being pressured by the 700-plus membership to get a deal done and that they will be more dovish than the more militant Goodenow in terms of working with the league.
But let’s not get carried away with false hope. Here’s why:
On Thursday, Bettman presented a new offer based on one that the union delivered to the league last month.
Previously, the union had suggested a payroll range and luxury tax system.
Essentially it offered a $20 million gap between the floor and ceiling while the league wanted a $10 million gap.
The new league proposal – based on word out of the meetings – is that it is more than the original $10 million hiatus but not near the $20 million, nor $15 million.
When I asked the league negotiator whether anything good came of Bettman’s offer, he responded negatively, saying that “nothing of substance” came from the union side when the new league plan was put on the table.
“The union dumped on it,” he asserts. “But they’ll be considering matters on Monday and we’ll see what happens on Tuesday."...continued...

nhl- Owners are Singing

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post, After spending more than a year insisting that the NHL would never ever agree to a compensation system based primarily on payroll taxes, Gary Bettman proposed just that in meetings with the PA in Toronto on Thursday and Friday.
Now that the league has abandoned its ideology, now the stalemate is merely about numbers (merely) and no longer about philosophy, it should only be a matter of time before a CBA is reached that will allow the season to begin on time.
The 2009-10 season, that is.
For according to individuals with knowledge of the complex proposal that featured floating thresholds based on overall payroll levels and tax rates designed to escalate dramatically for clubs repeatedly in the top third-to-half of the league spenders, teams with annual payrolls in the $33-35M range would have faced $200M in payroll taxes over the six-year term of the CBA — and forfeiture of three first-round draft picks, as well.
Indeed, as those who spent all of Thursday night analyzing the out-of-left field proposal — that also featured a hard cap upper and lower per-team number based on revenue — figured it, either two-thirds of the league would have been catapulted into the highest tax bracket by the middle of the CBA, or no team would have dared to spend more than $28-30M on payroll.
To say the least, the PA was baffled by the approach, which seemed to represent a wild league mood-swing from its previously stated positions and its public commitment to bargain off the high/low structure presented by the union early last month.
Indeed, we're told that Friday morning's session between the parties became "heated," when the union presented its analysis of how the proposal would actually work, with Bettman first expressing shock at the PA's projections (sure) before suggesting that the tax levels might be readjusted as not to act so onerously (sure).
Of course, it was just an accident that the proposal was designed to maintain payrolls at a level that would, in the end, represent an expenditure of approximately 54 percent of projected league revenue. Of course it was. And what else is new?
From their first proposal on Oct. 1, 2003 — the one-pager mandating an average payroll of $31M per team — through their proposal last December, through their "compromise trigger" proposal of early February, through any and all presented since they canceled 2004-05, that's been constant in every league offer.
They can dress it up any way they want, camouflage it as carefully as possible, but in the end, as Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs would say, it's about the bogus concept of 54 percent of the gross; bogus because without massive revenue sharing, there is no league gross to apportion to clubs.
In the meantime, now nearly three months following cancellation and just four months away from what would be the regularly scheduled opening of training camp, there has not been a single discussion of systemic issues such as arbitration and qualifiers, nor has there been a single discussion about 2004-05 contract issues and team/player rights.
As well, there's been absolutely no understanding reached regarding either the definition of league revenues or the manner in which they would be calculated. We're told that the league on Apr. 19 simply cited its previously commissioned Levitt Report when the matter was raised by the PA.
Is this anyone's definition of progress?
It's anybody's guess, then, why the league has its teams — Ottawa was the latest — expressing so much optimism that a deal will be struck within the next month. Actually, it isn't a guess, at all.
The league needs to present a unified front of optimism in order to have its best chance to sell sponsorships for next year and to get commitments from season-ticket holders. That's why the owners are singing, "Happy Days Are Here Again," even as they whistle in the dark.
But then, now that this is merely about numbers and no longer about philosophy — now that the league has embraced the notion of a tax-based system after saying they would never ever agree to such a structure — it's only a matter of time.
Isn't it?

nhl- Let's do It

from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, But is it really too late to bring the NHL playoffs to life at this point? Hardly.
Negotiators met this week in Toronto, just as they've met five times since the season was officially canceled Feb. 16. At that point, the league was still proceeding as if a season and a full complement of playoffs were possible, even though more than four months of the regular season already had been argued away.
As I have it figured, the NHL could restart as late as May 24 and still play an abbreviated regular season and four rounds of playoffs by June 19; all it takes is a little imagination.
The abbreviated regular season would begin May 24 and end about three hours later. There would be 15 games that night, with the 15 winners advancing to the first round of playoffs, along with one of the losing teams as determined by the standard ping-pong ball lottery. Imagine the TV ratings in Canada for that stunt.
The 16 playoff teams would be seeded via random draw, (16 vs. 1, etc.) with the best-of-one opening series slated May 27. The best-of-one quarterfinals would ensue May 30, with the best-of-one semifinals slated for June 1. Talk about pressure. Starting on the 27th, everyone's a three-game winning streak from the Stanley Cup final and everyone's one mistake from going home, where they've been for a year. You think you've seen desperate throw-your-body-on-the-ice-to-block-that-slap-shot hockey. You ain't seen nuthin'.
The final would be the standard best-of-seven, because you don't want to be carving people's names onto the Stanley Cup just because they had one good night, even though far worse things have been done to it on one good night. It could all be wrapped up, very traditionally, well before the Fourth of July.