Breaking Sports

Saturday, May 21, 2005

blog- Some Questions

Very slow night so a good time to answer some email questions. I do respond to all email but some of these questions and answers are more of the "general" type.

Q- Do you play hockey?
A- Used to but not anymore. My teen years were spent in Windsor (cheaper ice time) playing 4am pick up games.

Q- What type of work do you do?
A- I am in advertising for a living but seriously thinking about becoming a full time blogger. That decision will be made in the next month or so.

Q- How long have you been following hockey?
A- I can tell you I was at the old Olympia when Gordie Howe broke the Rocket's goal scoring record.

Q- How do you like using Firefox?
A- It is great,really got into it the last two months or so. Have found the greasemonkey extension to be very valuable.

Q- Do you have a life, you seem to be blogging day and night?
A- Yes, with the help of a pocket pc, I can blog from just about anywhere (I am doing it now) so basically I am able to blog every waking moment. The pocket pc allows me to surf the web, check my email, just about anything I can do from my desktop.

Q- Why do you think there has been such a lack of coverage of the CBA in the Detroit media?
A- Everyone is tired of this whole situation. But the most important factor is the almighty dollar. Talking about the CBA on Detroit Radio ( fyi, I live in metro-Detroit) just doesn't generate much interest these days, therefore stations are fearful listeners will turn the station and not come back. Ratings fall, thereby advertising dollars shrink. The same holds true for TV and newspaper coverage.

nhl- Happy Days Again?

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, Crank up the Zambonis.
Lay some ice.
Sharpen those blades.
Happy (NHL) Days MAY be here again.
That’s the word after four days of intensive meetings between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association which concluded late Friday afternoon at a secret Times Square location.
Bill Daly, the league’s chief counsel and lead negotiator, tells me that, “We are on our way home.”
Mind you, that does not mean the nine-month management labor war is over but an armistice certainly is in sight for the first time since the lockout began in September.
When I asked Daly for a realistic target date for completion of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he pointed out that there remain a number of obstacles still to surmount.
“We still have a ton of issues to do,” Daly asserted, “but, if we continue on the same level that we did on Friday, it can get done by early June.”...continued...

nhl- Bain still Trying

from Bloomberg, Bain Capital LLC, the buyout firm whose managing director owns a stake in basketball's Boston Celtics, increased its bid for the National Hockey League by at least $500 million to more than $4 billion, people familiar with the proposal said.
Bain and Game Plan LLC, a Boston-based firm that arranges the sale of professional sports teams, in March made a $3.5 billion offer for the league, which still hasn't resolved a labor dispute with players that forced it to cancel its season. The new offer, which topped $4 billion, was made yesterday, said the people, who asked not to be identified.
``We haven't given up, that's for sure,'' Bob Caporale, Game Plan's chairman, said in a telephone interview. He declined to confirm that a revised offer was submitted to the league.
League spokesman Frank Brown said, ``I will not confirm any aspect of what you're reporting.''
The firms have proposed operating the 30-team league with a single owner, which may help drive down player salaries and boost profitability. Major League Soccer was formed with a similar structure, in which each team makes its own personnel decisions within a budget set by the league.
All NHL owners would have to agree for the Bain offer to be accepted.
read on...

nhl- Getting Ready

This guy is so happy to hear progress has been made with the CBA, he decided to get the "goalie" sideburns treatment.

nhl- Pressure On

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, The NHL is putting heat on the NHL Players' Association to get a collective bargaining agreement in place by threatening to halt negotiations next month.
Two league sources told the Sun yesterday that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has warned union boss Bob Goodenow the league wants a new deal by mid-June or there "may be no point in having a season."
While the NHL hasn't threatened to cancel next season, Bettman has told the players the NHL will suffer severe damage in season tickets and sponsorship agreements if the two sides don't sign a deal soon.
Sources say it's possible the NHL could break off talks with the union, offer a $31-million US salary cap and refuse to negotiate any further until the NHLPA accepts it.
"The league just doesn't think there would be much sense in continuing to negotiate," said a well-placed NHL source.
There was also word major sponsors -- possibly Ford, Sony and Molson -- have told the NHL they may take their business elsewhere next season if there's no deal by June 15.
That may explain why the NHL and the union spent 22 hours in talks over the last two days in New York.
NHL vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement yesterday that the two sides ''made progress on some of the key issues pertaining to a new economic system. While we have not yet been able to reach agreement on those issues, we remain committed to continuing the process in earnest until a new (CBA) can be achieved."
The word is the players are getting antsy to reach a deal.
"There's a lot of pressure on both sides to make something happen here," said a league source. "Both sides want to get back to work because there really isn't much sense in having this lockout stretch into a second season."

nhl- Owners feeling Pressure

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post, NHL owners never gave a second thought to canceling the 2004-05 season, and thereby eliminating $1.2B in player contract commitments. Now, they face some urgency to reach a deal with the union in order to establish business as usual, or at least close to it, in order to start the 2005-06 season on time.
This not only explains why the league and the union conducted a fourth straight day of meetings in New York yesterday—and a second straight day of extended talks between the parties' complete negotiating teams—but why, The Post has learned, substantive negotiating is for the first time under way and yielding progress.
There appear to be many movable parts and trade-offs under discussion that could indeed potentially break down when the parties reconvene next week. But, say sources with knowledge of the talks, there does seem a sincere willingness on behalf of both the league and the union to move off previously well-established positions in order to reach an accord and end the lockout — specifically, and most notably, in matters involving revenue-sharing and a salary cap linked to a percentage of the gross.
Though sources were hopeful, they noted that fluidity and substantial swings had marked these last two days of meetings, and thus cautioned against reporting unbridled optimism. Sources familiar with union dynamics also dismissed out-of-hand reports circulated predominantly by league-friendly personnel that Bob Goodenow's authority had been usurped by either Mike Gartner or Trevor Linden, if not by both.
It is most assuredly true that the players do want a deal and do not want to miss even a portion of a second season. It is not true, however, that the rank-and-file are exerting pressure on Goodenow or the PA executive committee to make a bad deal at this juncture.
Indeed, with national and local sponsors, and television and radio rights-holders pressing the league to reach a timely accord with the players — timely generally defined as within the next month to six weeks — the union is finally in a position of leverage forecast over a year ago by Goodenow.
This does not mean that the league is caving, but financial realities — and the real prospect of an NBA lockout that would have severe impact on seven NHL owners with pro basketball franchises plus building owners in Boston and Chicago — have prompted Gary Bettman and the Board to positions of potential compromise on serious issues.
While revenue-sharing and cap issues have dominated the discussions, sensitive systemic matters such as qualifying offers and salary arbitration — not to mention final disposition of 2004-05 contracts — remain as possible roadblocks to an agreement.
Or, with evidence of a new spirit of cooperation, possibly not roadblocks, but merely speed bumps on the way to an on-time and regularly scheduled 2005-06.
We'll see.

nhl- Bill Clement Disgusted

from St. Louis Today, "It went from hope to frustration to exasperation to disgust," Bill Clement said of his emotions as the season slowly slipped away. "I think I'm speaking for a lot of people. We are walking around shaking our heads in disbelief. I grew up with a disdain for waste. .... My family was taught not to waste anything, and this is one of the greatest examples of waste of athletic capital and intellectual capital. Its unbelievable."
Clement, 54, played 11 seasons in the NHL and has been broadcasting hockey for two decades. And he says it's refreshing to be covering a league, the MISL, that is much more progressive in its approach than the NHL.
"We've been trying for 18 years on ESPN, but we still have NHL general managers and owners and players who say, 'Get that camera out of here,' and 'No, we won't do an interview,'" Clement said. "And they say, 'We can't have a camera between the benches.' They should tune in to the MISL."
Clement cited the fact that the MISL is permitting a reporter to cover the benches, letting ESPN2 place cameras just about anywhere it wants and allowing coaches to be interviewed during the games.
"Obviously they're trying to get a toe-hold and sell their sport," Clement said. "But the NHL has been so short-sighted for so many years, thinking people just would continue to come. Now the sport is in dire straits. If they don't perceive what is happening on the ice to be entertainment first and a pure sport called hockey second, they're going to atrophy until nothing's left.
"That's OK, I'm a soccer guy now," he added, chuckling.

Friday, May 20, 2005

nhl- Progress not Discussed

from ESPN, Only the National Hockey League and its players could meet for four straight days, 22 hours over the past two, claim success, and then have nothing to say about it.
Continuing a logic-defying path embarked upon long before the game became marginalized and its very existence imperiled, the league and its players did just that Friday evening.
After meeting for more than 14 hours Thursday, the longest session since the 2004-05 season was canceled, the sides met for almost eight hours Friday. The last two days' meetings included all of the major players on both sides of the bargaining fence, including commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow, who met early Friday morning and then reconvened a full session mid-morning Friday.
When the dust settled Friday evening, NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer Bill Daly announced breathlessly via statement that "we had two long days of meetings in which the parties discussed and made progress on some of the key issues pertaining to a new economic system."
Daly's counterpart, NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin, was even more electric in his statement.
"While we made progress in some areas, there remain many issues to be addressed."
Last week Goodenow and Bettman canceled a flight to the world championships in Austria. This week the sides met for four straight days, including one marathon session and one surprise session, and that's it? That's all they can come up with to share with the world?
Those waiting for news from the Vatican got more out of medieval smoke signals than hockey fans get from the two warring sides in this dispute. Not that the league and its players have been anything but archaic in their handling of this entire mess. There are two explanations for the dropping of the cone of silence over the proceedings...

nhl- NHLPA Statement


NEW YORK (May 20, 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 just completed four long days of meetings, two days in small groups and two days with our full negotiating committees. While we made progress in some areas, there remain many issues to be addressed. Since so many of the systemic and economic issues are inter-related, it is clear that much work remains to be done. Bob and Gary will be scheduling further meetings next week."

nhl- Bob McKenzie, A Good Sense

via TSN, Maybe it's the cockeyed optimism you get on the Friday of a long weekend, but for the first time since this labour brouhaha started last September, I get the sense that a deal is going to get done, and sooner rather than later.
Whether that makes it days or weeks away, who knows for sure? But for the first time, really, there seems to be a sense of inevitability about it.
That isn't to say there isn't the potential for problems. This whole process is like walking through a field of landmines and until an agreement is signed, sealed and delivered, nothing is for sure.
And that isn't to say there won't be some blow-ups along the way. That, too, is part of the process.
But four consecutive days of meetings, including two long sessions on Thursday and Friday, have generated a degree of momentum on which they can build.
But as encouraging as the frequency and length of meetings were, the real reason it looks as though we're finally on our way to getting this solved is simply that it's time.
There are going to be all sorts of mixed messages -- progress, no progress -- coming from the principals, but on this you can be certain: many players are telling nhlpa boss bob goodenow to get a deal done and get it done now so to as allow for a properly-launched resumption of play in the fall.
Now, Goodenow's nature is not to roll over and play dead, and he won't do that. He'll no doubt grind the NHL wherever and whenever he can, but it certainly doesn't appear he's in a position to pull the plug on negotiations or shut things down.
The desire to get this deal done, and done ASAP, seems to be at an all-time high. Both sides realize to not get it done within the next month would have a huge negative impact on everyone's bottom line for next season.
Logic, it would appear, has finally taken over. But on that, one supposes we'll have to wait to see it's not fool's gold and the cockeyed optimism of a Friday of the long weekend.

nhl- CBA Meeting Wrap

via CP, The NHL and NHL Players' Association met Friday in New York for eight hours of CBA talks, following a marathon 14-hour meeting on Thursday.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow met early Friday morning and decided to bring the two groups back to the table for yet another session.
''We had two long days of meetings in which the parties discussed and made progress on some of the key issues pertaining to a new economic system,'' said NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer Bill Daly. ''While we have not yet been able to reach agreement on those issues, we remain committed to continuing the process in earnest until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be achieved. The parties intend to stay in touch and we expect that new meetings will be scheduled for next week.''
After two days of small group meetings examining the financial practices of teams around the league, a larger group got together Thursday to examine the findings. The two sides hope to agree on what constitutes revenue in order to flesh out the union's April 4 offer. That system featured an upper and lower limit on team-by-team payrolls - a salary cap - which fluctuates year to year depending on revenues.

nhl- Friday CBA Meeting

We should get some information tonight regarding the meetings from yesterday and today. As far as I know, the meeting is still in session.

nhl- Good news, Bad news

from Foxsports, The good news is the NHL and NHLPA staged a lengthy 14-hour negotiation session on Thursday that ran well into the night.
The bad news is, as usual, there is little progress to report.
There was what the Canadian Press called "healthy discussion on a variety of subjects", but in the end the only thing both sides agreed upon was to meet every week from here on out until a new collective bargaining agreement is implemented.
That could probably be considered the usual "glimmer of hope" so many fans and pundits have been desperately seeking throughout this lockout whenever the latest round of talks have concluded. Considering the two sides have been meeting weekly now for almost a month, that's not really big news.
Canada's Sportsnet reported what might possibly be holding up progress is determining where to begin negotiations. The league apparently wants to start negotiating on the salary cap before moving on to other issues whilst the PA would prefer discussing other issues first before moving on to the cap.
It's a wonder both sides can even agree on the size of the negotiating table!
Some pundits are looking at Thursday's marathon discussions as perhaps a sign that both sides have finally begun to truly negotiate a new CBA.
Here's hoping they're right. As noted in earlier columns here, there are lots of issues to be worked out besides a salary cap or determination of revenues.
Salary arbitration, entry-level salaries and bonuses, the status of unsigned restricted free agents and unsigned prospects and the qualifying age for unrestricted free agents are just some of the other contentious issues that must be determined before a new deal is in of the article is about the NBA lockout talk, HHOF and the Stanley Cup getting passed around to the old timers.

Quote of the Day

Pretty soon the only sport left playing will be poker, and then they’ll unionize.”
— ABC’s Al Michaels, on the possibility of simultaneous lockouts for the NBA and NHL.

nba- Apparel Sales Hurting

The NBA indicated that retail sales of its licensed apparel “have taken a low double-digit drop” through all outlets in ’05, compared to a 30% sales jump during each of the past three years, according to Kang & Pereira of the Wall Street Journal. Florida-based SportScan Info “sees an even greater drop of about 33% in retail sales” from a year ago. Kang & Pereira write the drop reflects “a season that has been more air ball than slam dunk in many respects,” including the November 19 Pacers-Pistons brawl, the Lakers failing to make the playoffs and a rookie class without a clear standout.
SportScan Info Marketing Dir Neil Schwartz added, “Maybe the shine has worn off on [Cavaliers F LeBron James and Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony] a little bit.” NBA Senior VP/Global Merchandising Sal LaRocca said that team jerseys “have lost some of their fashion appeal.” LaRocca: “When we are a relevant component to what hip-hop musicians, movie stars, TV stars view as fashionable at the time, that triggers a marketplace reaction that really spikes our business forward.”

nhl- John Davidson Thoughts

JD was just on Mojo Radio in Vancouver. Lots of rumors, NHL sent out a memo to teams this morning saying things went well yesterday. Each teams financials were discussed yesterday in the meetings, very tedious work and trying to formulate a system to make this work. If a team tries to hide income, fine should be substantial and NHLPA is making sure this is in the CBA.
JD thinks the link number has to go as high as 57% for the players to accept. Number of owners and players want a deal. Players want to play and a lot of owners are beginning to feel the pinch too.
Huge amount of damage needs to be repaired, will take a huge effort on both parties to get hockey back in good graces. JD sees around two weeks of hard negotiations before any agreement will be reached.

nhl- Meeting this Morning

via TSN, The NHL and NHL Players' Association will meet this morning in New York to resume CBA talks, following a marathon 14-hour meeting on Thursday. A source close to the talks said little progress was made Thursday although a healthy discussion on a variety of subjects took place.

nhl- Cap agreed Upon

Talking with a few people in the last half hour, the word is the cap figure has been worked out but many other issues still remain.
We should have some answers by noon today. I have a VIP meeting in about 20 minutes but should be able to update around 10am.

nhl & nba- Double Lockout

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, When the Detroit Pistons shocked the basketball world by dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals last June, William Davidson became the first owner in major professional sports history to win two championships in different sports in the same year.
About a week before the Pistons' win, Davidson's Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, symbol of supremacy in the National Hockey League, beating the Calgary Flames in seven games.
Now, Davidson, along with a group of other nervous team owners, are facing the possibility of another sporting first -- having teams in two separate sports sidelined by labour disputes at the same time.
"It would be a perfect storm," was the way one sports executive termed it when asked to speculate what the business ramifications would be to an organization with teams in both the National Basketball Association and NHL having to endure a work stoppage at the same time...continued...

nhl- Little Progress

via the AP, The NHL and the players' association met for 14 hours Thursday in the longest bargaining session since the lockout began last September.
Little progress was made, but there was good dialogue on many topics throughout the long day, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
That followed two days of less formal discussions without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Bob Goodenow. The respective leaders were expected to talk Friday morning to plan the next meeting.
Getting together during the day remained a possibility.
"We're done for the night," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said. "We're going to talk tomorrow morning to discuss next steps."

nhl- Something Positive

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, Don't look now but something positive may -- just may -- be happening on the National Hockey League labor front.
That is, if you measure minutes and hours of discussion without an obvious explosion.
Negotiators for the NHL and its players' association met on Tuesday and Wednesday in smaller groups.
My sources all tell me that it was a positive exchange of arithmetic.
Even better was the fact that Gary Bettman and his adversary Bob Goodenow had an opportunity to chat privately in Washington DC on Wednesday between time-outs during the steroids hearings.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that in this setting some good talk took place.
When the pair returned to New York on Thursday for what has been billed as THE meeting, they participated in a marathon exchange which lasted -- after a dinner-break -- well into the night.
Nobody with whom I've talked expected a spanking new CBA to emerge on Friday, but the seeds may well have been planted Thursday night....more...

nhl- Any Closer?

via the LATimes, A 12-hour meeting Thursday in New York involving the NHL and the NHL Players' Assn. ended shortly before midnight Eastern time with neither side commenting on whether they made any progress toward ending the owners' lockout.
Asked if they're closer to an agreement, a league source said, "We'll know more [this] morning." A union source said Commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow would decide today when to meet again.
Thursday's session was devoted to discussing findings from previous small-group meetings that centered on clubs' revenue-reporting methods. Defining revenues would pave the way for an agreement that links salaries to revenues.
An air of urgency was added this week, when several sponsors and agencies that purchase TV time for advertisers said that unless they know by mid-June that there would be a 2005-06 season, they would spend their dollars on other sports. Executives of Ford, Sony and Molson told the Globe and Mail, a Canadian national newspaper, that they're making contingency plans to sponsor other programs if the season doesn't start in October. Also, ESPN has until June 1 to pick up a $60-million option to televise NHL games next season.

nhl- Not much Info

via CP, The NHL and NHL Players' Association held a marathon 14-hour meeting in New York on Thursday.
The two sides convened around 10 a.m. EDT and wrapped things up just before midnight EDT.
Neither side wanted to comment after the meeting.

nhl- Meeting Over

TSN reporting meeting is over, more to follow.

nhl- Still no word on end of Meeting

Well, they can now say they met on Thursday and Friday. I am still hanging in and will post as soon as an update is available.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

nhl- Meeting still Ongoing

Bob McKenzie on TSN said meeting is still in session.

nhl- Info Finally

via the CP, The NHL and the NHL Players' Association held a marathon meeting in New York on Thursday but it's still too early to get excited.
The two sides convened around 10 a.m. EDT and were still meeting as of 10:30 p.m. EDT, although there was a break for dinner.
After two days of small group meetings examining the financial practices of teams around the league, a larger group got together Thursday to examine the findings. The two sides hope to agree on what constitutes revenue in order to flesh out the union's April 4 offer. That system featured an upper and lower limit on team-by-team payrolls - a salary cap - which fluctuates year to year depending on revenues.
The two sides hope to meet every week from here on in until a deal is finally agreed upon. The lockout is more than eight months old and wiped out the entire NHL season.
Representing the league Thursday were commissioner Gary Bettman, chief legal officer and executive vice-president Bill Daly, director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, NHL general counsel David Zimmerman, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold, outside counsel Bob Batterman and lawyer Shep Goldfein.
The NHLPA roster included executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver, director of business relations Mike Gartner, outside counsel John McCambridge, Detroit Red Wings player Brendan Shanahan, and the players' executive committee: president Trevor Linden and vice-presidents Vincent Damphousse, Bill Guerin, Daniel Alfredsson, Arturs Irbe, Trent Klatt and Bob Boughner.
The presence of Shanahan and Campbell likely signified the need to talk about rule changes which will be made part of the CBA. The most contentious issue has been the reduction of goalie equipment, something the league needs the union to sign off on before going ahead with it.

nhl- Meeting Over

Wating for information...

update 10:10pm, The Score out of Canada reported meeting ended just after 10pm, now reporting meeting still going on.

nhl- Still Meeting as of 9pm

Maybe they are all stuck in an elevator. Who thought this meeting would be going on 12 hours?

nhl- All quiet on CBA Talks

Not a word about today's CBA Meeting. Is it a good sign that the meeting has gone thru dinner time on the East Coast?
Will update Breaking Sports as soon as word filters out.

Heads Up

  • CBS has extended announcer Jim Nantz’s contract with a new long-term deal. Nantz enters his 21st year with CBS Sports this fall.
  • HBO Sports reported 510,000 PPV buys for last Saturday’s Winky Wright-Felix Trinidad middleweight bout, generating $25.5M in revenue. The number of buys is the best for a PPV boxing event this year and included 280,000 from cable homes and 230,000 from satellite homes.
  • Vikings RB Onterrio Smith, who was caught April 21 at Minneapolis-St.Paul Int’l Airport with a device to beat drug tests, will “miss the rest of the team’s offseason program for undisclosed reasons.” Vikings coach Mike Tice: “It’s in the league’s hands. We’ll leave it at that.”

nba- Grant Hill wins "Lady Byng"

NEW YORK (AP) - Orlando Magic forward Grant Hill won the NBA's sportsmanship award Thursday, edging league MVP Steve Nash of Victoria.
Hill received 134 first-place votes and 2,778 points in voting by NBA players. Nash of Phoenix finished with 63 first-place votes and 2,370 points. For the second straight year, Memphis forward Shane Battier finished third.
The award honors the player who best exemplifies fair play and integrity on the court. Hill received the Joe Dumars Trophy, named for the former Detroit Pistons all-star guard who was the award's first recipient.
The NBA will donate $25,000 US on behalf of Hill to The Club, which provides quality and affordable recreation for the youth of Orange County in Florida.

nhl- HHOF awards Two

TORONTO (May 19, 2005) -- Bill Hay, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame, announced today that long time New York Rangers analyst SAL MESSINA will receive the 2005 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for his outstanding work as an NHL broadcaster and that Los Angeles Times columnist HELENE ELLIOTT will receive the 2005 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for distinguished hockey writing.
New York Rangers fans are well acquainted with the voice of Sal Messina. The native of Queen's, New York was a colourful analyst on Rangers broadcasts for both the Madison Square Gardens' Radio and Television networks for more than 30 years. Messina, a minor league goaltender for many years before making the jump to broadcasting in 1973, has also served as a practice goalie, official scorer, penalty timekeeper and goal judge for the Rangers.
"Sal's experience as a player in the old Eastern Hockey League made him an informed and personable colour analyst for many years," said Chuck Kaiton, president, National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association. "Rangers' fans were fortunate to be able to listen to a passionate and eloquent hockey observer who always held the game in the highest esteem."
Helene Elliott has covered virtually every Stanley Cup final since 1980. Currently the NHL and Olympic columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Elliott started her career with stints in Chicago and New York, heading the trailblazing first wave of female hockey journalists. Over the past three decades, Elliott has enlightened readers about pivotal moments in hockey history, including the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey "Miracle on Ice" and the 1988 arrival of Wayne Gretzky in L.A.
"Helene Elliott is a pioneer among female sports journalists," said Kevin Allen, president, Professional Hockey Writers' Association. "But she has truly been a role model for sportswriters of both genders. Her ethics are unquestionable. Her reporting is beyond reproach. Her prose is lively. Her professionalism is of the highest order. There is no one in this business any more respected than Helene."

nba- Ball in their Court

from the Boston Globe, The National Hockey League's mind-numbing reality has become the National Basketball Association's new nightmare.
It seems unfathomable in light of the NHL's near-suicidal labor impasse that another professional sports league would even contemplate wandering down that path, but here we are. Talks broke off between NBA owners and the Players' Association yesterday, and that means a lockout looms.
In fact, people I talked with yesterday are quite certain that on midnight, June 30, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires, owners will barricade their doors and instruct their players to enjoy their summer.
"I'd be stunned if anything different from that occurs," offered one general manager before it was announced that talks had broken down.
"We're already thinking up contingency plans for when they cancel the summer leagues," added another GM. "We've got to tell our players now how to prepare for summer before we're not allowed to talk to them anymore."...more...

Steroid Legislation Coming

from the AP via USAToday, Despite what he called an "abrupt about-face" by Major League Baseball, the head of a congressional panel opened a hearing on steroids in the NBA on Thursday by saying he'll propose a law next week to create a uniform testing standard for the four major U.S. professional sports leagues.
House Government Reform Committee chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., promised that the legislation he's drafting with ranking Democrat Henry Waxman of California and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., "will have more teeth than other bills introduced."
Davis didn't go into detail, but Waxman said their legislation would follow the Olympic model and would call for a two-year ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.
read on...

nfl- Winslow out for the Year

from the ESPN, Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the entire 2005 season, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Winslow underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic, and, according to the paper's source, showed "what everyone feared."
Winslow suffered the knee injury, as well as undisclosed internal injuries, on May 1 when he flipped over the handlebars of his motorcycle in a parking lot.
On average, it takes 10 to 12 months to rehabilitate from surgery on the ACL, the major ligament of four in the knee. Winslow is expected to get another medical opinion and, if the ACL tear is confirmed, could be scheduled within a month.
The Browns received the results on Wednesday but they can't release them to the public until Winslow or his family give them permission to disclose any of the injuries sustained in the crash, team spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz said.
The club had braced itself for bad news on the former Miami star, who played in only two games as a rookie last season before breaking his right leg while trying to recover an onside kick in Week 2.

nhl- Kasas City talking NHL

Anyone else think there are more deserving cities than K.C.? Winnipeg should be next in line for an NHL team.

from the Kansas City Star, Howard Baldwin, who founded the WHA’s New England Whalers and was part owner and operator of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, said in August that he is interested in forming an ownership group to put the National Hockey League in the Sprint Center after it opens.
As of this week, his tune hasn’t changed.
“With the right owner, the right building and the right timing, I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work,” Baldwin said.
Kansas City, though, never truly has gained solid footing in hockey. Eleven hockey teams in town — beginning with the Pla-Mors in 1927 and ending with the Outlaws last season — have come and gone.
The Outlaws recently announced they were one-and-done following the 2004-05 season, meaning, at least for the moment, Kansas City is without a pro team.
Is there a larger city in America without a professional hockey team?...more...

nhl- What each side Wants

via Sportsnet, While the past two days have been progressive, in terms of work that has to be done, the reality is the key issue remains the negotiation of cost certainty.
Sources tell Sportsnet the NHL would rather spend precious time discussing a framework for a cap system, while the union is believed to be angling in other directions, focusing on supplemental differences instead.
The league insists with the right framework, it could be much more flexible in other areas of the CBA which mean a lot to the players.
In other words, the NHLPA wants to negotiate from the bottom up, while the NHL would prefer saving time by dealing from the top down.
Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman have returned to negotiations, which today incorporates a larger group, including the players executive.

nhl- JD on CBA Meeting

from the Toronto Globe and Mail(paid sub.), Hockey analyst John Davidson, on the significance of today’s meeting: “I think it’s a really important day. Both sides are trying to gather important information, the [NHLPA] especially, on the financials. Then they’ll try to get down to formulating a system. The process can either plug along and get even more positive. Or it can hit a wall.”

nhl- today's CBA Meeting

I will be monitoring the CBA meeting today. I would expect this meeting to last most of the day but will keep you updated with any information as soon as it is released.
Hopefully all the work they have done the last few meetings will lead to some positive news.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

nhl- Trying to get Closer

via Sportnet, Get ready to add CSI: NHL to the list of shows which revolve around careful identification of the facts.
Or, at least that's how it appears as both the NHL and the NHLPA dissect and identify the issues that still stand in the way of a new CBA.
In near forensic fashion the two sides have spent the past couple of days involved in "good dialogue".
However, NHL chief legal officer, Bill Daly is reluctant to characterize the state of this week's negotiation.
"We tried to get closer on some of the issues that separate us, and we identified many other issues that still need to be discussed and resolved", Daly concluded.

nhl- Still in Charge

from Foxsports, Media speculation continues to abound regarding NHLPA director Bob Goodenow's role in the current labor talks with the NHL.
Recent reports suggested NHLPA president Trevor Linden and even former PA president Mike Gartner were now acting as watchdogs over Goodenow, ensuring the PA director was truly representing the players' needs.
The notion of Goodenow being "babysat" by Linden and the players' executive is humorous to say the least. This seems to be based on the number of people representing the PA who've been showing up at the recent round of talks.
Following that logic, we must then assume that the reason hard-line team owners, like the Boston Bruins' Jeremy Jacobs and the Nashville Predators' Craig Leipold, are attending these meetings is to keep an eye on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The fact that Jacobs and Leipold are part of the league's negotiating team, and have been part of most of these meetings since the league canceled the 2004-05 season, shouldn't enter into the equation.
No, they're there to "baby sit" Bettman to ensure he doesn't lose his mind and sell them down the river.
See how easy it is to engage in wild speculation?
Some might make the claim that Linden and Gartner are little more than Goodenow's puppets. If so, that also makes NHL board of governors chairman and Calgary Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss and NHL VP Bill Daly puppets of Bettman.
Think back to last January's small group meetings between the two sides involving the aforementioned gentlemen. There would be apparent progress one day, only to have the league reps return to their hard-line stance after quick phone consultations with Bettman, where at times the commissioner could reportedly be heard yelling at Daly over the latter's cell phone.
Bottom line is Bettman and Goodenow still call the shots, abetted by their respective lieutenants and supporters...continued...

nhl- Putting in long Hours

NEW YORK (CP) - The NHL and NHL Players' Association met for eight and a half hours Wednesday, once again dissecting the tedious team-by-team accounting practices.
It's all in the name of finding a formula that both sides can live with to determine team revenues in order to tie them to a floating team-by-team salary cap - the basis for the union's April 4 offer.
Wednesday's meeting started at 8 a.m. EDT and wrapped up around 4:30 p.m. The two sides also met for six hours Tuesday.
A larger group will meet Thursday, also in New York.

League Chiefs resist Drug Bill

from Bloomberg, A bill in Congress to crack down on illegal drug use in professional sports is unnecessary and may create more problems than it solves, the head of the baseball players' union said. Leaders of the hockey and soccer players' unions also told a House panel they opposed legislation.
The penalties proposed are ``far too severe,'' and testing players for drugs without suspicion of wrongdoing may violate the U.S. Constitution, Don Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said in testimony before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee in Washington...more...

This and That

  • VancouverCanucks center and player rep Brendan Morrison said of the NHLPA canceling its full membership meeting later this month, “I guess you can look at it two ways: (1) it’s negative because there’s nothing to talk about or (2) it’s positive because they’re getting somewhere.”
  • Both Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow will be appearing before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce today beginning at 10am. ESPN News will televise the hearings.
  • The Big Ten today at its spring meetings will consider adding a league game to its football schedules, since Division I-A will allow teams to add a 12th game beginning in ’06. Though the Big Ten is not expected to adopt the plan, the Pac-10’s presidents are expected to approve the addition of a conference game when they meet June 5. Its teams “will play a full round-robin” schedule, with each team having nine league games instead of eight.
  • Red Sox LF Manny Ramirez said he plans to auction on eBay the baseball that he hit for his 400th home run and give the proceeds to an undisclosed charity.
  • The N.Y. Times reports that as Suns players were shooting free throws at the end of yesterday’s practice, the Central High School marching band “intruded on their practice court.” The marching band was hired by Suns Owner Robert Sarver, and was supposed to surprise Suns President & GM Bryan Colangelo at a news conference at which he received the NBA Exec of the Year award. However, due to “a miscommunication, they ended up” interrupting practice.

nhl- Bingo

from the Winnipeg Sun, A 5.77% chance Sidney Crosby could end up playing with Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
A 3.85% chance The Great One, if Wayne Gretzky decides to coach the Phoenix Coyotes when NHL hockey returns, could end up coaching The Next Great One.
A 3.85% chance of the second coming of Gretzky ending up with the Edmonton Oilers. A 1.92% chance Crosby could end up with the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Those are the percentages if Gary Bettman and the NHL board of governors adopt a draft plan for this lockout season several NHL people at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Innsbruck and Vienna believe will be put in place for this year's entry draft.
With the IIHF World Championships over, hockey is over for NHL players this season. Next up, before they play again, is the draft.
If the NHL people are right, they're going to play bingo.
NHL hockey people here are convinced Bettman will convince the Board of Governors to adopt a system for the draft which will be based on how teams finished over the course of the last three years.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

nhl- CBA Meeting Today

We will not hear much of anything until sometime Thursday. Today and tomorrow will consist of small groups meeting, accountants, lawyers, etc. Bettman is at the drug hearing tomorrow and Thursday both sides plan on meeting as a group.
The basic issue that continues to stall this process is how are revenues defined. If that can ever get settled, we may see some steps forward.

nhl- What we are Missing

from ESPN, Know what's really maddening?
We're missing the best post-season in professional sports.
Know what's really heartening, even if this should stay between us to avoid giving the inept negotiators on both sides of the table even infinitesimal consolation?
The experience of going without is confirming that the NHL has the best post-season in professional sports. It's playoff withdrawal, whether we're admitting or it trying to pretend it isn't so.
If the NHL season had been played on schedule, the conference finals would be in full swing.
The Clarence Campbell and Prince of Wales Trophies would be in the buildings.
The Stanley Cup Finals would be on the horizon.
The World Championship would have been the annual relegation tournament, and not the upgraded international showcase it became the past couple of weeks.
On this side of the Atlantic, and probably on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, four teams would have made it through a couple of grueling series and be well into a third...more...

Happy Horses

ROME (Reuters) -- Italian police have discovered a mob-linked race track where they say horses were pumped full of Viagra and other drugs to fix races.
The illegally built and operated track, known locally as "Miss Charmet", is located on the outskirts of Naples city -- home to the Camorra, the local version of the Sicilian Mafia.
"We are able to ascertain the use of the famous [drug] Viagra to increase the performance of these horses," police commander Mario Pantano told local television.
It was not clear how Viagra affected the horses' speed.
The track and its horses, worth an estimated $6.4 million, were seized by authorities investigating illegal doping of horses, according to local media.

nhl- BSP, "NHLPA is Solid"

From the unnamed Breaking Sports Player, a current NHL player who has answered numerous questions from fans in the past few days.

I just wanted to stop in and express to the NHL fans the rumors that are being written about the NHLPA starting to crack are just that. The people who are writing this have again been swayed by the Bettman Group and will doanything that is asked of them. Gary has done this in the past and should be putting in an effort to get a fair CBA deal on the table instead of reaching out to his contacts to spread absolute lies about the PA.
Bravo to Chelios for speaking out and look for more players to start voicing their opinions. All we are asking for is a partnership, the NHL still refuses to recognize that we want to work with them.

nhl- Stan's views of the CBA

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, What could be more audaciously ridiculous than the NHLPA’s reasons for canceling the three-day "union" meetings slated for Toronto, May 24-26. The rationale is "not sufficient new information." Boushwah! There’s plenty to discuss, starting with Bob Goodenow’s end game – assuming there is such a thing. Then, there’s the league’s last offer, which could have been put to a full membership vote. But that would be the democratic way of doing things. Egad! The NHL bid might even be approved. You avoid that by canceling the full-membership meeting. It appears that Goodenow isn’t ready to face the wrath of card-holders who rightfully wonder what their Association boss has to show after a season of no NHL work...much more to read...

nba- Lockout Next

In my opinion, look for a NBA Lockout the first week of July.

NEW YORK (AP) - A collective bargaining session between a large group of NBA owners and players, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has ''failed to materialize,'' a league spokesman said.
The development could be an ominous sign in labor talks, coming less than a week after commissioner David Stern publicly downgraded his outlook for reaching a new agreement from ''optimistic'' to ''hopeful.''
A spokesman for the players' union said the league informed the players over the weekend that Tuesday's previously scheduled session wouldn't take place.
''They told us we won't be able to meet. They said they'd get back to us as to what the next step would be,'' union spokesman Dan Wasserman said.
Union lawyers met with league officials last Thursday and orally outlined a new proposal to replace the seven-year agreement that is due to expire June 30.
In downgrading his forecast for a speedy and amicable resolution, Stern indicated this would be a critical week in negotiations.
The sides have been meeting in small groups regularly since mid-February, although considerable differences remain on several key issues.
Owners would like to reduce the maximum length of long-term contracts, reduce the size of annual percentage salary increases in long-term contracts and raise the minimum age for playing in the NBA.
Union director Billy Hunter, who couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, said in an interview last week that the union wouldn't make unilateral concessions.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank had no comment beyond the statement that Tuesday's meeting ''failed to materialize.''
Stern and Hunter will both be in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday to testify before congressional committees investigating steroid use in professional sports.

nhl- Red Net Alert

A detailed article on why a red net would help scoring.

from the Hockey News, Grayson Fertig is a former collegiate hockey player who has invented a net with red meshing that he believes would have a positive impact on goal-scoring without changing the way hockey is played. Here, in his own words, is his case for the 8i on...

nhl- Who belongs in the Hall of Fame

from the CP, Players who have been passed over in previous years will get a long look from the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee when it meets June 8 because the list of first-year eligibles lacks star power.
Last year, the nod for induction was automatic for superstar defencemen Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey, and blue-liner Larry Murphy, who'd also just completed the mandatory three years out of the game, was a good pick, too.
This year, the most worthy first-year eligibles are goaltenders Mike Vernon and John Vanbiesbrouck, defenceman Gary Suter and forward Kevin Stevens.
Vernon stands the best chance. The five-foot-nine Calgarian won the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 and with Detroit in 1997, when he was named playoff MVP.
Suter won the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 1986, Vanbiesbrouck won the Vezina Trophy as top goalie in 1986, and Stevens was a first-team all-star in 1992 - not nearly enough credits among them to earn selection.
The list also includes Rick Tocchet, Pat Verbeek, Stephane Richer, Ray Ferraro, Bob Probert, Dave Manson, Benoit Hogue, Dmitri Khristich, Michel Petit and Joe Reekie.
It's definitely not a bumper crop.
The list of those passed over previously is more impressive.
Start with Dino Ciccarelli.
Ciccarelli, who retired in 1999, scored 608 goals - 13th on the all-time list - and he did it after every NHL team declined to draft him.
Every retired player among the top 12 in goals scored is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and more than 25 forwards who scored fewer goals than Ciccarelli in the modern era have been inducted. If Bernie Federko (369) was worthy, why not Dino?
Glenn Anderson, who left the NHL in 1996, scored 498 goals and earned six Stanley Cup rings.
Brian Bellows, who last played in the NHL six years ago, scored 485 goals.
Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe, who quit playing seven years ago, is the best defenceman among the previously ignored candidates.
The winningest goalie among those who were previously passed over is Andy Moog, who won 372 NHL games. Vernon won 385 and Vanbiesbrouck 374.
There have been 230 players, 92 builders and 14 referees or linesmen inducted since the tradition began in 1945. Builders and whistle blowers might be the preference this year.

Detroit problems not an issue for Super Bowl

from the Detroit Free Press, The City of Detroit's budget problems shouldn't have any effect on the city's ability to host Super Bowl XL next February, Roger Penske, chairman of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee, said Monday.
During a monthly host committee telephone briefing with reporters, Penske noted that almost all the money needed to run Detroit's Super Bowl effort comes from outside the city's budget, mostly from corporate sponsorships.
The cash-strapped city's police and fire departments participate in providing security, but only as part of a multi-agency force that includes dozens of other agencies and departments at the local, state and federal levels.
"I'm sure that no matter what the situation in the city, the government, etc., will be in place at the time of the Super Bowl, we'll be able to augment anything necessary to be sure that we have a successful event," Penske said.
Later he added, "We've got a strong private sector, we've a big business community, and the companies that are headquartered in Detroit certainly carry a lot of weight in seeing what would take place at an event like this." on...

In a related story, you can check out what kind of hot water the Detroit Mayor is in.

nhl- Stanley Cup going Old School

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, For all those concerned citizens fretting over the fate of the Stanley Cup, and especially those who have seen fit to take legal action to "Free Stanley," fear not.
The Stanley Cup will be in good hands this summer.
The venerable trophy will be doing in June, July and August the same thing it's done every summer since the 1994 champion New York Rangers formally started the modern-day tradition of letting each player on the winning team have his own day with the cup.
This time, though, the 112-year old trophy will be spending more time with its own age group.
The NHL has decided to honour the oldest living Stanley Cup winners by letting them have the Cup for a day...more...

iihf- What was he Thinking

Can anyone explain what Ryan Smyth was doing in this sequence? (will open MWP video) This happened in the last few seconds of the championship game.
I understand frustration on Smyth's part, but he missed on quite a few of his slashes.

Thanks to Octopi for providing the link.

nhl- Madness Continues

from the Ottawa Sun, If you are among those who still care -- and there is no telling how small that number may be -- there is every reason to be infuriated by the state of negotiations between the NHL and its locked-out Players' Association.
One side seems as self-destructive as the other. Both sides, sadly, deserve each other.
This morning, the NHL and the NHLPA return to the bargaining table -- again -- not necessarily to further the process, but to actually turn the clock back and take care of business that should have been attended to more than a year ago, if either side was acting responsibly.
Get this, they are trying to determine what is and isn't revenue before they go forward. This, after the owners offered to open their books to independent auditors more than three years ago. This, after the players have done a complete about-face concerning what they will and will not negotiate.
This is the madness for the hockey fan as no games are played, franchise values dip significantly and players haven't received a cheque in 13 months.
And what's more outrageous is this: The very framework the NHLPA is now negotiating from was proposed in a private meeting between Maple Leafs governor Larry Tanenbaum, Penguins owner and player Mario Lemieux and the unlikely man who brought them together, Leafs enforcer Tie Domi.
When Tanenbaum, Domi and Lemieux sat down in December in an attempt to bring the lockout to an end, they did so by representing the views of players, successful franchises and downtrodden franchises. They were covering their bases well.
Only union executive director Bob Goodenow, tripping over his own ego and his own rhetoric, caught in a semantical storm, would hear nothing of the terms salary cap and linkage -- the very terms he is now negotiating.
All that has happened in the waste of time and money that has been the past five months is damage. Damage to the league. Damage to players' salaries. Damage to the sport and the game.
Goodenow and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should be embarrassed by their performance here, burying their own constituents in the process. But now, the shrinking time frame is significant for one basic reason. If there is no deal in place by next month for a 2005-2006 season, then the only thing disappearing quicker than fans will be league sponsors...more...

Monday, May 16, 2005

nhl- Why the PA meeting was Canceled

from Foxsports, The NHL labor dispute took yet another turn this past Friday with the announcement from the NHL Players' Association that its meeting with the players, set for May 24-26, was canceled.
The basis for the cancellation was what NHLPA president Trevor Linden termed a lack of sufficient new information to justify staging a major meeting of the players.
If this sounds familiar, it should: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman canceled what was considered an important meeting with the league board of governors last January for pretty much the same reason.
This cancellation also comes at a time when the NHL and NHLPA have increased the number of meetings in hopes of providing a speedy resolution to the lockout and begin preparations for next season. The now-canceled players meeting was seen by some observers (myself included) as a potential deadline to have a deal in place to present before the players for ratification.
That is now out of the question. The news left fans bewildered some pundits consulting their "inside sources" as to the "real reason" for the cancellation.
One assumption has NHLPA director Bob Goodenow afraid to face the players, wishing to avoid explaining to them his plans — or lack thereof — of ending this lockout. Some critics even see this news as the impetus for supposedly angry players and agents to overthrow him.
That, however, is a little too simplistic.
If the players and agents were truly unhappy with Goodenow, or demanded to know his "exit strategy", they wouldn't cotton to having such an important meeting canceled over a perceived lack of progress with negotiations.
The howls of protest would make it to the welcoming ears of the press, who'd find more than a few sympathizers willing to report tales of unrest with the association.

mlb- Selig wants stiffer drug Penalties

from the AP via MSNBC, Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Monday he would support federal legislation calling for two-year bans for first-time steroid offenses unless the Major League Baseball Players Association agrees to toughen the sport’s drug policy.
read on...

nhl- Bettman destroyed image of the NHL Player

from the Detroit News, A long time has passed during the NHL lockout and hard feelings fester among NHL players toward commissioner Gary Bettman.
Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios has been one of the most vocal critics of Bettman from the start of the now eight-month-old lockout.
After Saturday's exhibition game in Dearborn in support of the Dearborn Police charities, Chelios showed his frustration hasn't lessened.
"Nothing's changed," said Chelios, who organized Saturday's game at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center and drew cheers from Wings-starved fans. "They (the owners) have no desire to sign a deal right now. We've bent over backward to show we want to get a deal done for the sake of the game."
Chelios sees negotiations coming down to one premise: "Are they (owners) going to turn on each other, or are we going to turn on each other?
"We will not turn on each other, I guarantee you that," Chelios added.
"We've bent as far as we're going to bend. If they're out to break the union, which is pretty obvious, there's nothing we can do. They say they're not going to go with replacements, (but) we'll see. They'll change their mind overnight."
Chelios said Bettman has destroyed the image of NHL players, and been dishonest with players and fans, saying the lockout is about the financial health of the game.
"He could have been honest from the get-go and said, 'This is our plan, and we're out to get the best deal for the owners.' We (the players) could have lived with that, instead of all the lies," Chelios said. "That's a guy with no ethics, no conscience. He's shown that. He's not fooling anyone anymore."
One NHL season has already been lost. The focus now turns to preventing another season from being delayed. Recent negotiations have been fruitless, but the fact that the sides are talking makes some Wings optimistic.
"Both sides want to get this done before June or July, so the advertising, and season tickets, and television contracts can get done," Legace said.
And, if a deal isn't reached by June or July?
"Then it'll go into January and February again," Legace said. "If it (the season) doesn't start on time, it's a dead fish in water. I can't even imagine another year (being lost)."
Legace said players still support Bob Goodenow and the union leadership. "We're pretty solid as a union and it'll be the same way in September," Legace said.
"If I was a betting man, I'd be betting we'd be playing," said forward Jason Williams, who spent the winter playing in Finland. "I just don't think the game can go two years without being ruined."
On a day when playoff hockey should have been in high gear, Saturday's exhibition game, pitting Chelios' team against a team of Dearborn policemen, was just another reminder of where the game is right now.
But, also, a reminder that hockey still matters in this town.
"I was sitting on the bench before we got started tonight, looked at the full house and all the smiling faces on the kids, and all the Red Wings jerseys," said Wings television analyst Mickey Redmond, who played on Chelios' professional team.
"In spite of not having hockey for over a year now, these people still love this game and the Red Wings crest."

The Breakfast of Champions

from the Orlando Sentinel, For eight decades, the breakfast aisle of your local grocery store has chronicled sports history.
Sandwiched between Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch, the Wheaties box has become much more than a nutritional pick-me-up for the morning rush hour.
It is a symbol of athletic brilliance, a legacy that transcends Olympic gold, championship banners and vaunted green golf jackets. Many athletes will tell you that they haven't officially arrived as a sports icon until they are immortalized on a box of Wheaties.
"Even to this day it ranks as one of the most prestigious titles that I've held," said Olympic gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton. "And of course being first female athlete on a cover [in 1984] is even double the honor because they don't put just anybody on. It's the All-American cereal, The Breakfast of Champions."
The catch phrase has become part of our culture, wholesome words that have taken on a different interpretation...more...

psa- Detroit Area Fans

The Detroit Tigers asked me to pass this along.

The Detroit Tigers need 1,500 volunteers to help with the 2005 All-Star Week and the John Hancock All-Star FanFest, July 8-12 in Detroit.
Volunteers are needed to welcome and direct guests at airports and locations throughout the metro area, as well as at the FanFest. Positions as host, information guide and skills-game coach are available.
Volunteers must be 18 years old and be able to work a five-hour shift for three consecutive days during the week. They will receive a limited edition All-Star Game shirt, cap, lanyard, fanny pack and gift.
To register for a volunteer position, visit, or call the FanFest hotline at (800) 449-3267.
Volunteers will be required to attend one information session, offered 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 23rd and May 24th at Comerica Park.

nhl- Eye on the CBA Talks

from CP via Slam, Regardless of the public perception, the league and union forge ahead. They will meet in smaller groups Tuesday and Wednesday to review accounting practices and break down financial information from clubs, very tedious work that is time consuming. An update will be provided Thursday when a bigger group meets.
It's all in the name of finding a way to agree on what is revenue - no small hurdle - so that a system can be developed to make the union's April 4 framework come to life.
The union is willing to accept a team-by-team salary cap but wants the upper limit to fluctuate depending on revenue. A good year means the cap would go up, a bad year means it would go down. It sounds good on paper but the mistrust between the two sides makes this a long and arduous journey.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking on both sides to save an industry already getting clobbered. There has been much damage and it would already be a long road back to win back fans and corporate support even if a deal were announced tomorrow.
On the league side, corporate money will fly out the window in July if there's no deal, companies not willing to commit to investing in a product that seemingly no longer exists. And then there's ESPN, the U.S. cable sports network that has a June 1 deadline to either pick up or drop an option on its contract with the NHL.
It may well be that NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow believes it's because of those pressure points in June and July that he should delay making a deal and get a better one when the league is desperate later in the summer.
There are players who privately want a deal done as soon as possible, but it's not clear whether their voices are being heard. Likewise, it would be foolish to assume all 30 NHL owners are of the same mindset right now either.
These are desperate times and cracks may begin to show on both sides. A cynic might suggest the NHLPA cancelled its massive players' gathering originally scheduled for later this month because Goodenow didn't want to face the angry rank and file, but that's more rumour than fact.
Officially, the reason for the cancellation is that the union leadership felt there was nothing to update the players with on the labour front. It's hard to argue that point.

nhl- Some information on CBA Meetings

from the Star Tribune (reg. req.), "I think anytime they meet it's a positive sign," said Dwayne Roloson, who as the Wild player representative was on a conference call Friday afternoon to get an update on the situation. "The last few meetings have been productive. I just feel they are working towards something and hopefully they will get this thing resolved."
Roloson points to the fact that the NHL might have incentive to get a resolution by June 1, because the league will be faced with a few key deadlines at that point. Among them will be ESPN's decision on whether it wants to exercise the option on its contract for the 2005-06 season.
But exactly how much is actually getting done in the meetings is difficult to say. For example, there appeared to be little true negotiating last week on the central subject.
Wednesday, talks centered on the possibility of putting together a competition committee that would be made up of both team personnel and players. Thursday, the sides finally discussed the findings of a report by former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt, which was released in February 2004 and said only 11 of 30 teams turned a profit in 2002-03. Levitt had been hired by the NHL, and the union quickly expressed doubts about his figures.
Wanting to cut losses, owners attempted not only to set a salary cap but also tie league revenues to player salaries in a system called "linkage." Roloson said a salary cap is still part of the discussions, but linkage is a long shot.
"The way the cap is, it's a floating cap or the way we talked about it they would have a lower limit and upper limit," he said. "If you look at the April 4 proposal, that's pretty much where they have been talking. From our side, we're trying to get revenue sharing thrown in. We think that would keep a lot of teams honest with reporting on their books."

media- Mitch Albom Probe

The Detroit Free Press reveals details of the Albom investigation. A long read, but very informative.

from the Detroit Free Press, A Free Press review of more than 600 columns by Mitch Albom has found no evidence of problems similar to an April 3 column in which Albom, with an editor's knowledge, misled readers by writing about events that never occurred at a basketball game.
However, the inquiry found that Albom at times has used quotes from newspapers, TV programs or other publications without indicating that he did not gather the material himself, in violation of Free Press rules on crediting sources. In several instances, Albom did not credit quotes exclusively gathered by another media organization.
Albom was not alone in this. The review found that other Free Press columnists also have failed to give credit for quotes gathered by other news organizations.

nhl- Advertisers ready to Move On

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Advertisers are preparing to abandon the National Hockey League for the early part of the 2005-2006 season, unless the league reaches a settlement with players in the next month.
The next few weeks are the most critical period of the year for advertisers and media buyers as they plan and commit their advertising dollars for the fall television season. This week, the U.S. networks are presenting their fall schedules in New York. Canadian networks will do the same early next month in Toronto.
Doug Checkeris, president of Media Company in Toronto, said that if the NHL can't commit to a fall season by mid-June, advertisers will have little choice but to commit their dollars elsewhere.
"Every day that goes by, the league probably loses some money," said Mr. Checkeris, who buys television time for advertisers...more...

nhl- Scabs would be Fought

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The powerful B.C. Federation of Labour would oppose the use of replacement players by the Vancouver Canucks and would rally union troops should the idled National Hockey League proceed in that direction.
"For the Canucks to try scab hockey in British Columbia is a long stretch and would do more harm to this game than any lockout ever did," federation president Jim Sinclair said. "They'll never get the support of the public to do this."
The use of replacement players would be a possibility if the NHL declares an impasse with the National Hockey League Players' Association in negotiations for a new collective agreement.
The 30-team NHL has lost an entire season after locking out players in the absence of a collective agreement. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants resumption of play in the fall, and that's when the possible presence of replacement players could cause a problem. "We would organize to make it a major issue, as in any case of replacement workers," Sinclair said. "But let me tell you, that's a dead-end street. There would be no victory for anybody going down that road."

nhl- It will get even Worse

from the Winnipeg Sun, At this time of year, there essentially is no urgency for the players to come to an agreement other than to ensure they'll be paid NHL wages next year. But their paycheques don't start flowing until October, if at all, so they are under no serious pressure to settle right this minute. And apparently there is not sufficient pressure on the owners for them to come off their hardened position.
There is a window of opportunity right now to get a deal done that would minimize the damage to the industry that has already accrued.
But unless the owners change their stance, that window will close by July and won't re-open until once again the pressure is back on the players.
The longer it goes on, the clearer it becomes that this is a fight to the death. That process will be ugly and embarrassing for the game and the people who think they run it. So don't feel bad if you didn't get all revved up about the world championship.
That was the NHL's way of preparing you for something far less appetizing: replacement players by the middle of November.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

nhl- Head in the Sand

from Stan Fischler of MSG Network, The resemblance between the National Hockey League Players’ Association and a flock of ostriches is becoming more and more vivid.
When an ostrich is confronted with fear, it traditionally sticks its head in the sand.
The players’ union now appears to be doing likewise since its announcement that it has cancelled its much-heralded all-membership meeting, scheduled for May 24-26 in Toronto.
"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," said NHLPA president Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks. "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."
What does Linden mean when he says no “new information?”
Surely, he can’t be serious.

iihf- Canada loses to Czech Republic

Tomas Vokoun and the Czech Republic thwarted Canada's attempt to win three straight world hockey championships, defeating Canada 3-0 Sunday in Vienna, Austria. Vokoun made 30 saves to secure the win, while Vaclav Prospal, Martin Rucinsky and Josef Vasicek scored for the Czech Republic.

nhl- Goodenow cooking up new Formula

taken from Steve Simmons column in the Toronto Sun, Some people laughed when the unlikely trio of Mario Lemieux, Tie Domi and Larry Tanenbaum tried to put a deal together to end the NHL lockout in December. Well, it doesn't seem quite so funny now that NHLPA Bob Goodenow has taken that very formula and is now trying to sell it to the league ...Wouldn't be it great if someone in U.S. Congress addressed Gary Bettman this way on his visit Wednesday: "Mr. Bettman, why are you here talking to us about your drug policies when a) you don't have one and b) you don't play any games?

nhl- No NHLPA Meeting, No Hope

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg, req.), So what does Friday's abrupt cancel lation of the NHLPA's May 24-26 membership meeting truly mean?
It means that anyone who has a vested interest in the sport should be gravely concerned not only about the prospect of opening on time in October, but of the very viability of the NHL as a major- league enterprise in the U.S.
It means that the specter of 2005-06 scab hockey will soon be back on the table, front and center, with plans for a mid-November start to a 60-game replacement season as the agenda.
It means that Gary Bettman — either independently or under the strict instructions of a suicidal Board of Governors — has absolutely no concept of how to close the deal with a union that has already agreed to unprecedented givebacks and to a hard cap in a league that never before has had any restrictions on club spending.
It means that Bob Goodenow remains in firm control of the PA despite league attempts to create friction and doubt within the rank-and-file through its floated messages to media and blogging mouthpieces.
It means that reports of Wayne Gretzky — who has previously said he would not have the slightest interest in coaching scabs (he used the term "replacement players") — having agreed to a three-year contract to become head coach of the Coyotes are quite premature, to say the least.
It means that, by insisting any deal come in at approximately 54 percent of the gross no matter how it's camouflaged, the NHL has no more desire to actually negotiate now than it did last September, or at any time since.

nhl- Is Goodenow Trapping

from Newsday, When we finally reach the end of this mind-numbing lockout and a compromise is reached between the NHL and the players association, mark last week as a critical moment.
The players have long been criticized for blindly following executive director Bob Goodenow. And why not? He has made them rich beyond any imagination over the past 10 years.
But recently, there has been a change in the union's dynamic at the negotiating table. Instead of just Goodenow controlling everything from the schedule to the decisions to even the information given to the players, the players have demanded that president Trevor Linden and members of the executive committee remain by Goodenow's side from now on. Consider it a little old-time hockey self-policing on the part of the players, who want to hold Goodenow accountable for his actions as this costly eight-month process has gone well past the point of frustration.
"I finally got the sense that the players - for the first time - are taking an independent interest in the process," one person involved in the talks said.
Late Friday, during a heated conference call with player representatives, the NHLPA meeting set for May 24-26 in Toronto was canceled. Linden publicly said it was because "there is not sufficient new information to justify another meeting at this time."
But another player rep put it more succinctly: "Players have no interest going up to Toronto to hear the same old ----."..more...