Breaking Sports

Saturday, May 28, 2005

nhl- Even more on ESPN & the NHL

via Bloomberg, May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN has told the National Hockey League it won't exercise a contract option to televise games for the 2005-06 season, ESPN spokeswoman Diane Lamb said today.
NHL spokesman Frank Brown declined to comment. ESPN and the NHL can still negotiate until June 1, a deadline that was established by the sides in early April. Both sides declined to comment on whether they'll meet further.
The cable network had a $60 million contract to show NHL games this season, which was lost because of a labor dispute between owners and players. The NHL became the first professional U.S. sports league to wipe out an entire year because of labor trouble when Commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season on Feb. 16.
A divorce from ESPN, the top-rated cable channel, would hurt the NHL, a league whose revenue from television is waning. The NHL received $600 million over five years under its previous contract with ESPN and Disney's ABC that expired after the 2003-04 season.
"It didn't make sense for ESPN to spend $60 million when there is still no labor agreement,'' former CBS Sports executive Jay Rosenstein said in a telephone interview. "There's too much uncertainty.''
League and union officials said this week progress was made toward a new agreement during two days of talks in Chicago. The sides have met for six days in the past two weeks, mentioning movement toward a new deal for the first time since the lockout began last September. The sides are expected to meet again next week in Toronto.
"I don't see any strong competitors to ESPN for the NHL package,'' Rosenstein said. "ESPN still has the leverage.''

nhl- Small Market Fear

from the Philadelphia Inquirer via the Mercury Press, When commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the NHL season on Feb. 16, he admitted that some nontraditional hockey markets would have to begin anew when hockey resumed.
"They may have to start from scratch and rebuild," he said that fateful day.
You didn't have to be Arthur Levitt to figure out that the markets Bettman referred to were Carolina, Nashville and Atlanta - places that aren't hockey hotbeds, where the sport barely registers a blip during college basketball season and weekends when NASCAR is racing.
Back in the eras of former commissioners Clarence Campbell and John Ziegler, Atlanta had a hard-core group of fan support among Delta Airlines employees. Many thought the NHL never should have abandoned Atlanta. When the league returned to the South with the backing of Turner Broadcasting, it was assumed that the Thrashers would never be looking over their shoulders.
Then Time Warner sold the franchise, along with the Atlanta Hawks, for $240 million. While that was going on, the Thrashers were in the middle of the Dany Heatley mess, not knowing whether half of their golden-boy combination - along with Ilya Kovalchuk - would end up in jail on vehicular manslaughter charges after the death of teammate Dan Snyder.
Finally, the lockout arrived. It was the third strike on the franchise in a two-year period. People wondered aloud last winter whether Atlanta was in danger of not surviving the lockout.
"That's a good question," said Don Waddell, the Thrashers' general manager, during a recent interview in Europe at the world championships. "We feel we have an opportunity to save our market.
"By save, I mean, I don't think we lose too much because of where our team was at. We had great fan support (in 2003-04) and we went through some very difficult situations. Our fans really supported us. We thought we would make the playoffs. We didn't. We came up short. I think people are looking for us to take that next big step."
That is the one tangible Waddell feels his team has in the city. The core fan base in Atlanta - transplants from other hockey cities - was eager for Heatley and Kovalchuk to carry the Thrashers into the playoffs when the lockout struck.
In Waddell's mind, the scent of the playoffs remains the bait that will lure fans this fall.
"That is what this franchise has to do," he said. "If we come back and don't take that next big step and make the playoffs, then I think this franchise is in big trouble.
more...

nhl- CBA Meetings scheduled for next Week

via Sportsnet, The next round of NHL lockout discussions has been scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto.
Sources tell Sportsnet the two sides minus Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow will continue the process of establishing a framework for what constitutes hockey revenue.
Bettman and Goodenow are expected to rejoin the negotiation on Thursday, perhaps heating up what has been described as a "big week."

Most Memorable Sporting Event

This weekend will probably be a slow, breaking sports kind of weekend.
So with that in mind, I still see quite a few visitors are checking out Breaking Sports and thought you might like to tell your fellow readers about the Most Memorable Sporting Event you have attended.
So take a minute out of your day and let me and others know by commenting to this thread. You can use the "other" field when commenting and type in any user name you would like or just be another "Anon" if you so choose.
My most Memorable Event was being at game 4 of the SCF when the Wings beat the Flyers for their first Cup in over forty years. JLA was so loud and it sounds weird, but you couldn't hear anything. The party that lasted for about three days afterwards was one I will never forget.

Remember, It is only a Sport

On this Memeorial Day Weekend, a very fine article about sports and the military.

from Foxsports, With a life in sports, I've been dealing with statistics for some time now, and critics will always point out how "statistics" lie, and how people can manipulate the numbers to mean anything they want.
These numbers don't lie.
There were over 58,000 United States military casualties in Southeast Asia. Just from 1967-69, almost 39,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Unlike the veterans in previous American wars, many of those Baby Boomers sent to Vietnam neither believed in the cause, nor were appreciated by those who stayed home.
Those of us who were born into the "Lucky Calendar Club" weren't needed by our country. That doesn't excuse us from respectfully remembering those that weren't so fortunate.
There are plenty of great athletes who had their careers delayed, interrupted, or ended prematurely because they answered the call to their country's armed forces. But this piece will not deal with the brave athletes who put their lives at risk for this country. That list includes Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, Rocky Bleier, and many others. But Memorial Day is for those who have fallen. It's a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service....continued...

nhl- More on ESPN and the NHL

from the latimes, Already reeling from a canceled season, the NHL has taken another hit: ESPN has decided to not pick up a $60-million option to retain its broadcasting rights in the United States, a source familiar with the situation said Friday.
A spokesman for ESPN declined to confirm that decision, but the source said it would be announced Tuesday, the day before the option deadline. NHL officials have been informed of the decision. The league had no comment.
The decision might not signal the end of ESPN's involvement with the league. Network officials may try picking up the same rights for less money. An exclusive negotiating period exists until Wednesday.
The league still has television deals. It has agreed to a two-year deal with NBC to broadcast games when the league starts back up. It has no up-front money. The NHL will share in revenue after NBC has recouped production costs. The NHL also has contracts with the Sports Network in Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
But as for ESPN — "We just think $60 million is too much right now," a network official said.
When the five-year, $600-million deal that included the $60-million option was negotiated, ESPN officials were aware that a lockout could jeopardize last season.
The lockout extended into February before Commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season and the deadline on ESPN's option was extended from April until June.
The NHL does retain a little leverage: ESPN promoted itself as the only network with the four major sports after adding the NBA to its lineup in 2003.
The ESPN contract was worth $2 million to each NHL team, about the price of a second-tier defenseman last season. Even so, NHL officials can ill-afford to lose revenue from what was a $2.1-billion industry before the lockout.
Should ESPN work out a new deal with the NHL, passing on the $60-million option may still be harmful to the league's reputation — one that had already been damaged by the cancellation of the season.
ESPN's decision could also affect NHL sponsors. Molson Coors, Ford and Sony Canada reportedly are considering withdrawing their advertising deals unless the labor dispute between the league and the NHL Players' Assn. is resolved by the middle of next month.
The NHL has been a familiar presence on ESPN since the cable network's inception.
ESPN showed some games in 1979 and was awarded the national broadcasting rights in 1984. It lost the rights to SportsChannel in 1988 but regained them in 1992.
But ESPN gradually has reduced its coverage of the NHL in recent seasons. It showed 70 games in 2003-04 and was scheduled to show 40, all on ESPN2, had the option been picked up.
NBC is scheduled to show seven regular-season and up to 11 playoff games under the first year of its contract.
ESPN's declining interest in the NHL coincided with the desire of the Walt Disney Co., its parent company, to shed hockey. Disney has agreed to sell the Mighty Ducks to Henry and Susan Samueli. When the NHL's five-year, $600-million deal with ABC and ESPN expired after the 2003-04 season, Disney did not pursue a new deal for ABC.

Friday, May 27, 2005

nhl- More on the ESPN Decision

via TSN, The National Hockey League's pocket book has taken another hit.
Sources tell TSN that American cable sports giant ESPN will decline their option to retain their NHL broadcast rights for next season. The option to retain their national cable rights was for $60 million US.
ESPN has declined to comment on the matter, but the decision is expected to be officially announced next week.
The league is now free to negotiate with any other US cable network, including ESPN who may try to negotiate a new deal at a lesser cost.
The NHL announced its cable agreement with ESPN last May, worth half the $120 million US a season it made under the five-year, $600-million deal that expired with ABC/ESPN after the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. Both sides reached a one-year agreement with options for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons in May 2004.
While ESPN and ESPN2 covered a plethora of games during its previous contract, the new deal called for ESPN2 to air just 40 regular-season contests. The cable sports network also held exclusive rights to the conference finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
The league also signed a two-year deal with NBC last year, which had the same type of revenue-sharing agreement the network has with the Arena Football League. Under the agreement, NBC would take the first portion of income from advertising to cover production expenses, while the NHL takes the next portion and the two split additional revenue equally.
The regular-season ratings on ABC have declined 21 per cent since the 2001-02 season while last year's Stanley Cup final ratings were down 21 per cent from 1999-2000.

nhl- ESPN Dumps NHL- Maybe ESPN2 will Televise

via Sportsnet, ESPN has declined its option to retain National Hockey League broadcasting rights next season for $60-million US, Sportsnet has learned.
While some consider this a huge blow to the league and its exposure south of the border, there is a sense ESPN 2 may attempt to use this opportunity to negotiate a much cheaper rights fee.
Regardless, this decision will clearly have an impact on NHL revenues and may factor in to the current CBA negotiations as the pie continues to shrink.
Meanwhile, Bain Financial remains intent on buying the NHL. A memo was circulated around the league Friday announcing the group has tabled an offer of $4.3-billion for all 30 NHL teams. The offer would split the teams into three categories based on the estimated worth of each franchise.

nhl- Still Progressing

from Foxsports, Another week of negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA have ended no differently than in previous weeks, with both sides agreeing to carry on again next week following the Memorial Day weekend.
The optimism that earlier this week was vanishing returned by mid-week thanks to reports of both sides being "closer than they've ever been" in reaching a deal.
My own sniffing around only confirmed the usual "cautious optimism" among a few well-placed sources. It's apparent negotiations have advanced much further since agreeing to meet weekly over the past month, but as several observers have noted, all the two sides have done is made up ground that should've been covered months ago.
The only thing everyone can seemingly agree upon is that there remains much work to be done before a deal is closed.
The Ottawa Sun had an interesting blurb from an unnamed NHL source claiming the PA is essentially capitulating, suggesting the players have "fought the good fight" but no longer wish to have this lockout carry on into next season.
The Sun's source went on to say it now appears the PA is now only trying to get a face-saving deal in place.
On the surface, it certainly appears the players have folded. After months of rejecting a hard salary cap or linkage, they're now apparently willing to accept a team-by-team cap and, considering the time spent in recent weeks examining league and team finances, linking their salaries to a percentage of league revenues.
Appearances, however, may be deceiving.
more...

nhl- The Draft

from ESPN, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bob Clarke called it "a potential nightmare for a lot of clubs."
Agent Mark Guy said it could be "a real logjam" and "probably won't look like anything that has happened before."
Said one scout about juggling all his reports: "Everybody's job is getting more complicated, so ours had to, I guess."
They're all talking about the NHL draft.
You'd be tempted to say "the 2005 NHL draft," but no one can say with any certainty that it will even take place this year. In March, the league canceled the festivities slated for June in Ottawa but has yet to announce a contingency plan. League officials have gone on the record with a guarantee that an entry draft will take place prior to taking the padlocks off NHL locker rooms, but in the absence of collective agreement, who knows?
"It could and should be this year," Clarke says. "But could it be canceled completely and not happen until [June 2006]? I don't think that you can rule anything out at this point."
While nobody knows exactly what the league will look like when it reopens for business, team executives, agents and players have some idea of what they're up against with the next draft – and it ain't pretty....continued...

nhl- What to Believe

As posted earlier today, the Vancouver Province reported ESPN extended the TV contract talks with ESPN to June 15th. Now we have this from USA Today.

You hate to see the suffering face more stress. But the NHL, maybe by Wednesday, faces another hurdle: Keeping its national TV money.
TV deals, like any business deals, aren't always driven by deadlines. But ESPN already has extended the date to June 1 for renewing its option to continue its NHL coverage for one season for $60 million.
That total would be a big drop from the $120 million that ESPN paid each of the previous four NHL seasons, a deal that helped average player salaries grow from $1.35 million to $1.83 million.
But now the NHL would be lucky to get anywhere near $60 million. Like any league that cancels play, it faces the prospect that not all its fans will return. And, in terms of TV, it seems expendable: ESPN's makeshift replacement programming has drawn comparable ratings to NHL games.
The wild card is whether any other network would want hockey, whose TV ratings are truly diminutive. NBC got the Stanley Cup Finals without paying a rights fee.
NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur says "there's nothing to say" about TV issues; ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys says only "June 1 is the deadline."
A logical guess: The NHL stays on ESPN for well under $60 million and NHL owners, by next week, have another reason to cry poverty.

nhl- a Little More on Datsyuk

I was able to translate this page (give it some time to load) from Russian to English. We all know that nothing is confirmed and as I mentioned we should wait until we hear the Wings speak about this.

Markov Datsyuk - in the "dynamo"
Date: 27 May 08:06
Source: Soviet sport
Author: Gennadi THE ALARMS
It is review: 555
Contracts with the "dynamo" for next year concluded three players of the first five team Russia - defenders Andrey Markov, Sergey vyshedkevich and best player of the past season Pavel datsyuk. All three in the past season became the champions of the country.
The President of "dynamo" Anatoliy kharchuk described about the news of the command:
- we reached the understanding about annual contracts with Andrey Markov and Pavel datsyuk. Both agreed to speak in favor of "dynamo" even in the case of the cancellation of lock-out in NKHL. Now, even if overseas clubs want to secure these masters, they had to pay "dynamo" all transfer expenditures. Yes even to sell these players we are not intended. For two years is also signed the contract with Sergey vyshedkevichem.
Furthermore, Kharchuk itself presented the question to correspondent "SS": "why someone does consider that the pupil of our club Aleksandr ovechkin must leave from" the dynamo "? Anywhere we it will not let go!"

mlb- Should Bonds come Back

from Foxsports, Barry Bonds doesn't want to come back.
Sounds preposterous, I know. Out of character. The old Barry Bonds was an in-your-face churl who wanted to break records, win a World Series and silence his critics, not necessarily in that order.
But guess what? The old Barry Bonds is gone.
Bonds, who turns 41 on July 24, is not close to rejoining the Giants after three surgeries on his right knee in a span of 92 days. He has just begun rehabilitation as he recovers from an infection that led to his third surgery. When he returns, he might not be the hitter he once was, a hitter who used his leg strength to generate tremendous power.
If Bonds were to make a list of pros and cons regarding his comeback, he swiftly would conclude that the list of cons is far more convincing -- especially for this season. Waiting until 2006 would at least buy him time physically and perhaps enable him to resolve his legal problems....read on...

Heads Up

  • The Vancouver Province reports that the deadline for ESPN to renew its rights deal with the NHL, which was extended from April 15 to June 1, is now “supposedly June 15.”
  • BLoomberg News reported that the NBA and NBPA today will meet in N.Y., in what will be the “first face-to-face” labor negotiations since the NBA said on May 18 that it was breaking off talks. The NBA said at that time that the reason for ending the meetings was that the union “reversed its position on several previously agreed-upon issues,” including a league minimum age-limit and contract lengths.
  • Former Lightning captain Brian Bradley said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Players Association head Bob Goodenow have turned the league's labor dispute into a clash of egos. "I think both of them are in the wrong," he said. "I don't think both of them should be around once the deal is made. We need a change." "I think Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow have ego problems," Bradley said. "I'm not saying Gary's a bad guy. I'm not saying Bob's a bad guy. I know them both personally. But after everything is said and done, what they did to the game, they damaged it."

nhl- Floating Cap Review

If you are unfamilar with how a floating salary cap may work in the NHL, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette gives a good explanation.
Q: Wouldn't the rumored proposal of a floating cap, with player salaries linked to team revenue, just ensure that smaller-market, or for that matter, poor-performing teams would be unable to be competitive? It seems to me that under this system, the teams with the lowest cap would never have the option to bet their future on star players to better their situation, thus mandating the downward spiral with bureaucracy instead of letting it come naturally with greed.
MOLINARI: There seems to be a misunderstanding among some fans about precisely what is meant by a floating salary cap that is tied to team revenues. It doesn't not mean that each team's cap figure will be based on its own revenues; instead, each team will have the same cap range -- say, hypothetically, a $30 million minimum and $40 million maximum -- for a given season.
The "floating" part means that the cap range would be adjusted each year to reflect an increase or decrease in the cumulative revenues of the 30 teams. If those revenues go up, so will the cap range. And if they fall, the cap range will do likewise. Not all 30 teams will spend precisely the same amount on players each year -- having a range gives each club's management some latitude in how much it spends -- but the gap between the floor and ceiling figures to be small enough that teams like the Penguins no longer will have to compete against opponents whose payrolls are two, three or four times the size of their own.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Skillful

Have you seen this goal (will open WMP video) by Rob Hilsey in a skills competition? Good stuff.



nhl- Too Many Wishful thinkers

from The Maven and MSG Network, There are people out there in Hockeyland who want you to believe that an NHL-NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement merely has to be gift-wrapped and Fed-Exed to Bettman, Inc. for his seal of approval.
Yet, as the month of May winds to a close, the fact remains that there still is no pact and all those who proclaim -- as the Ottawa Sun has -- that the talks are “the closest they’ve been” -- are up against a wall of pessimists who assert otherwise.
The good news is that the two days of management-union meetings in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday were productive in the sense that the two sides are still talking.
One such participant, Devils’ CEO-President-General Manager Lou Lamoriello tells me that such momentum is vital.
“The most important thing is that these meetings keep happening consistently,” Lamoriello tells me, “and that there’s no time lag.”
More meetings are slated after the Memorial Day holiday with Commissioner Gary Bettman and his union counterpart Bob Goodenow facing off again. Both were absent from the Windy City conferences.
Official communiqués from each side look on the positive side.
“Further progress was made in reviewing and discussing league and club financial and accounting issues,” says the league’s chief negotiator Bill Daly.
The NHLPA’s negotiator Ted Saskin adds, “We completed two days of meetings, focused on revenue-measurement and reporting issues. There’s a lot more information to be exchanged between the parties.”
Translated into reality speak, it means that the wheels of progress are grinding as slowly as the Canarsie local but at least they are moving -- somewhat.
“But,” I’m told by a key principal in the CBA marathon, “it’s too early to tell which way we’re heading.”...more...

nhl- Hockey Night in Canada- USA Stay Away

A former NHL publishing director, David McConnachie, today launched a website that he hopes will help motivate a national discussion about a made-in-Canada solution to the current NHL labour mess.
"By canceling the season, the NHL has effectively admitted that its current business model is completely broken and its preferable to blow the whole thing up and start again," said McConnachie, adding, "If that's the case, why not look at all options - including the option of taking the Stanley Cup, our six current teams, and effectively repatriating our national sport."
"This really just started out as an anguished letter to the editor - and grew into four articles and a simple call-to-action website that Sean Kelly from NerdsOnSite quickly pulled together. It's a pretty basic website - no ads, no sponsors - but simplicity is fine. The sole intent is to try to foster a real discussion - among fans and among Canadian hockey's power elite - about the need, and opportunity, for Canadian pro league."
The site will soon feature a "I Want My CANHL!" section with an online petition, forum, and a list links and other resources.
David McConnachie was the Director of Printed Products Marketing (Publishing) for the NHL from 1996-2000. Prior to joining the League, he worked with Burris, Neiman and Associates, a Toronto-based sports marketing firm, and with them, held the position of Associate Editor for the NHLPA's Be A Player magazine. Since 2000, McConnachie founded YourLogoGoesHere, taught marketing at Seneca College, and has begun work on his first novel - a non-hockey fiction.



nhl- More on Datsyuk

A follow up on the Datsyuk post from this morning: Art Regner from WXYT radio in Detroit broke into the morning show today saying he has learned Pavel Datsyuk had signed a contract with his Russian team and the contract did not include an "out".
The deal is now being reported in Russia, but the Wings are now trying to get information on this deal.
His contract maybe something like this, sign this contract for $1m and have an out to go back to the NHL or sign this deal for $3m and stay with us for the year.
Also, the CBA comes into the picture for this. If you remember, Dmitri Bikov (sp) had a similar deal like this last year and had to be signed by the 15th of July.
So where does this stand now, I guess it is just a wait and see.

nhl- NHL Statement

Meetings conclude, more scheduled
CHICAGO (May 26, 2005) -- Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today completed a two-day session of Collective Bargaining negotiations, after which the following statement was released by Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer:
"Further progress was made in reviewing and discussing League and Club financial and accounting issues. The parties intend to meet again next week."

OK, now everyone sit back and take a deep breath. No matter what you hear or read in the next four days or so, the meetings next week will be the deciding factor of where these CBA talks are going. Nothing will be done until Tuesday of next week at the earliest, so enjoy the long holiday weekend (Memorial Day in the States is Monday) and come back on Tuesday.
I am not chasing you away and will continue to update Breaking Sports, but remember, next week is the make or break week for the CBA negotiations.

nhl- PA Statement

NHLPA STATEMENT FOLLOWING MEETINGS IN CHICAGO
CHICAGO (May 26, 2005): At the conclusion of today's meeting in Chicago, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“We just completed two days of meetings focused on revenue measurement and reporting issues.There is a lot more information to be exchanged between the parties and I expect Bob and Gary will be scheduling further meetings shortly.”

nhl- CBA Meeting Over

Meeting over, more meetings planned, still a lot to be discussed.

nhl- Legends with the Cup

from nhl.com, The Stanley Cup Champions Tour, which was begun a decade ago, allows each winning player to have a day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown, or wherever he chooses. The tour quickly became a great hockey tradition.
Since 1995, the Stanley Cup has visited cities and towns around the world and been taken to the top of British Columbia's highest mountain, the Kremlin in Moscow, Prague's Old Town Square and even served as a popcorn bowl for Martin Brodeur's children at a Montreal movie theater.
Champion players have showcased the Stanley Cup at fundraisers for important medical charities and to build hometown hockey rinks.
All in all, it's been one feel-good story after another as the Stanley Cup further reinforces its reputation as the trophy in sports.
All those wonderful stories from the past 10 years set Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay, 79, to thinking. A four-time Stanley Cup winner in his 17-year NHL career, the former Detroit Red Wings left wing and head coach never got to take the Stanley Cup to his native Renfrew, Ontario, or to his adopted hometown of Detroit.
Lindsay was impressed with the NHL's policy and said it would be wonderful if he and other retired Stanley Cup champions could also have their day with hockey's greatest prize. Brian Conacher, the NHL Alumni Association president and an important member of the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup championship team, also liked the idea and offered the support of his organization....read on...

nhl- Let's Talk

Newsday's Alan Hahn discusses the NHL lockout, rule changes, and why Sidney Crosby could become a Ranger.
Recent reports have indicated an NHL deal may not be far off. What's the reason for this recent shift toward optimism?
It started April 4, when the union sat down with the league and started discussing a salary-range system (cap and a floor) that included a link to league revenue. It's what the NHL has wanted but the NHLPA previously refused to talk about. Don't waste your time wondering why. Lawyers just are different people than you and I. To them, time is something to be spent, not saved. No wonder they charge so much money. Anyway, both sides looked at it as a breakthrough, a starting point -- finally steps in the right direction.
Since then, they have veered away from finances into other topics and found some common ground, as well. The numbers still aren't the same and they are still working out the formula (defining revenue, then using the sum to figure the percentage of player salaries), but for the first time in eight months, they're at least talking about the same things.
Around this time last year, we were told by union people they will never, ever, ever accept a cap. A year later, they've realized to never, ever, ever say never, ever, ever again.
more questions and answers...

nhl- Progress being Made

from the Toronto Sun, Talks aimed at ending the eight-month National Hockey League lockout began their fourth consecutive week with no major hiccups.
A well-placed league source told the Ottawa Sun yesterday that discussions between the owners and players have progressed to the "closest they've ever been", but cautioned there's plenty of work to do. A carefully worded neutral message was e-mailed to the players by the union this week after both sides spoke of making progress late last week. It included an update from executive director Bob Goodenow, indicating the league will not move off its stance of a 54% link to revenues.
The two sides met for 6 1/2 hours in small groups yesterday in Chicago, minus league commissioner Gary Bettman and Goodenow, as lower level negotiators continued to delve into league financial and accounting issues. They'll meet again today in the same city.
Bettman has kept many of his owners in the dark on the progress of talks, but enough snippets have emerged to paint a more rosy picture of an imminent settlement than a month ago. A floating salary cap based on team by team revenues seems to have mutual appeal to the battling parties, but there remains strong disagreement regarding the definition of revenue. However, if the largest gap in the dispute can be bridged, a settlement becomes a matter of time.
"If they're talking about the colour of the car, it usually means they're close to buying the car," one hopeful NHL team executive said.
But another club exec vowed not to be suckered a second time by rumours that a deal was in the works.
"Ever since that stupid Saturday (Feb. 19, when a bid to resurrect the season was scuttled), I've learned not to believe anything until a deal is signed," the exec said. "Both sides are talking about things they should have discussed a year ago. Maybe that's progress, but we can't wait until September. We need a deal by early July so we can start the job of getting people to love this sport again."
One area the players might try to re-gain ground is unrestricted free agency. The two sides have been discussing moving the age for UFA's down to 30 from 31 next season and then back to 28 over the course of four years.
"The players have to look like they got something for missing the year," said the source.

nhl- The Sticky Point

The NHL not moving off the 54% of revenue is what is holding up these negotiations. The NHLPA wants 57% and so we sit. Will either side budge; stay tuned...

nhl- Pavel Datsyuk

Datsyuk has signed a contract with his Russian team with no "out" for next year. This is per Art Regner from WXYT 1270am in Detroit.

update 11:04am, A few of Datsyuk's Russian teamates are confirming this report.

nhl- Getting Closer

from the Ottawa Sun and Bruce Garrioch, The two sides in the NHL's labour dispute are moving closer to a deal.
A well-placed league source told the Sun yesterday that talks between the NHL and NHLPA have progressed to the point they're "closest they've ever been," but cautioned there's plenty of work to do.
Trying to get a collective bargaining agreement in place before there's no chance to save revenues next season, the two sides reconvened in Chicago yesterday to continue to work to get a deal in place.
Sources say for the first time in these discussions, the two sides are talking about "the same concepts" for a CBA, which means all they have to do is "work out the numbers" to get an agreement in place.
FLOATING CAP
The belief is the NHL and union will settle on a floating cap based on league revenues. Union boss Bob Goodenow sent a message to the players on their website Monday indicating the league will not move off its stance of a 54% link to revenues.
Not only did Goodenow tell the players he didn't believe this kind of concept was going to work, he told the players to contact him personally if they wanted more information. But there is talk NHLPA president Trevor Linden and past president Mike Gartner are playing more active roles in the negotiations.
There's also a rumour circulating that Red Wings winger Brendan Shanahan, who formed a committee to make improvments to the game, has also been working behind the scenes to play a central role in getting the two sides to go in the same direction.
"There are a lot of players who don't want to see this stretch into next year and they don't see any point in having it go into next year. They've fought the good fight, but the battle has been lost," said a league source.
"Now, they're of the opinion that the union should just try to get the best deal possible and move on with this. I would say right now the union is trying to find a way to say they saved face in this negotiation."
UFAS AT AGE OF 28?
One area where the players might try to gain ground is in unrestricted free agency. There's talk the two sides were discussing moving the age of UFAs to 30 next season and then scaling it back to 28 over the course of four years.
"The players have to look like they got something for missing the year," added the source.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

nhl- Uh Oh

from The Maven and MSG Network, The optimists took a stiff body check on Wednesday in the eternal NHL-NHLPA war.
The pessimists still have the lead.
And, as long as no new collective bargaining agreement is sealed the pessimists will prevail. That was the gist of Wednesday's events in Chicago.
Just when it appeared as if substantial traction was about to be made in settling hockey's civil war, the A -- as in agreement -- train grounded to a halt.
Based on the first of two days of meetings in the Windy City, the union appears in no rush to make a deal. Apparently NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow is continuing his stalling tactics on the assumption that his side has more leverage than the league.
"The players' association is acting as if it is in absolutely no rush," a negotiator tells me.
Most of Wednesday was consumed with accounting issues.
"It was totally uneventful," one participant tells me. "The issues we discussed could easily have been dealt with after we negotiated the more important ones."
Thursday's meeting is expected to be a continuation of the arithmetic lesson, leaving virtually no hope of a settlement by early June, as some had hoped.
At least one NHL negotiator is baffled by what he describes as the union's "laid-back" behavior.
“It’s not even about dollars anymore,” he insists, “and not about principles. Goodenow has agreed to every principle we need. I can't understand why he is dragging his feet."
Soundings from the union side have been less clear and less hopeful.
When a player agent suggested on Tuesday to an NHLPA attorney in Toronto that it appears as if the warring factions, at last, are en route to a deal, the unionist shot back, disparagingly, “Don’t be so sure!”...continue, but most of it is from the previous article by Stan.

nhl- CBA Update

CHICAGO (CP) - The NHL and NHL Players' Association met for 6 1/2 hours without their respective leaders Wednesday.
The two sides were back to the smaller-group format of last Tuesday and Wednesday, again discussing financial and accounting issues affecting the league's 30 teams.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow also skipped out on the small-group sessions last week before joining the larger group for 22 hours of talks over Thursday and Friday, meetings that for the first time gave many hope that the lockout could end in the next month.
Labour talks will resume Thursday morning in Chicago. The two sides have met four straight weeks and 14 times overall since Bettman announced the cancellation of the season Feb. 15. They plan to meet every week until a collective bargaining agreement is finally agreed upon.

nhl- CBA Meeting

Discussed more financials, going over revenue, team by team. Appears the PA is fact gathering. More of the same tomorrow.
If anything breaks tonight, will keep you posted during timeouts of the Pistons game.

nhl- Optimism Fading

from Foxsports, The NHL and NHLPA held their longest consecutive set of CBA talks late last week, with Thursday's 14-hour session spilling over into Friday.
Pundits began expressing "cautious optimism" that progress, at long last, may finally be happening.
But just a weekend later, some in the media began expressing nervousness, as "leaks" of deadline demands and "insider" speculations of the PA potentially undermining the process found their way into the headlines.
The ball got rolling with the Ottawa Sun publishing a report citing sources claiming NHL commissioner Gary Bettman apparently warned NHLPA director Bob Goodenow that the league wanted a new CBA by mid-June or there was no point in having a 2005-06 season.
Worse, if no deal came to pass by this supposed deadline, the Sun's sources claimed Bettman might walk away from talks, return to his original demand of a $31 million cap, attached with a "take it or leave it" stipulation and refuse further negotiation until the PA capitulated.
The paper was quick to point out that the league wasn't threatening to cancel next season but is concerned over the potential loss of revenues from expired sponsorship deals and sluggish season ticket sales.
The National Post reported that even NHL VP Bill Daly seemingly backed away from his earlier optimistic comments of a new deal by mid-June.
Meanwhile, depending on the source, Goodenow faces a growing number of disgruntled players and agents, or has been replaced by Trevor Linden, Ted Saskin and Mike Gartner, or holds such influence over the players that most are scared to stand up to him.
The possibility that the real reason why he hasn't been ousted is that the majority of players and agents still support him apparently isn't a real factor for consideration by the rumormongers.
On top of that, there is now speculation that Goodenow is attempting to undermine the process, that he has no intention of ever signing a deal with the league, or my favorite, that Saskin, Linden and Gartner will sign the next CBA but not Goodenow.
Idle hands truly are the devil's workshop. In cases like these, it's probably best to consider the source and allow some time to go by to determine if the speculations are correct....read on...

nhl- Bettman talks CBA and Crosby

from TSN, Gary Bettman talks(will open WMP video) with Bob McKenzie about the CBA and Crosby. Bettman feels the NHLPA has accepted the NHL numbers.
This interview was done last night in London.

nhl- Ad Buying

President of Media Edge CIA, an ad firm representing Ford, Sears, Molson in Canada was just on Team590 Radio in Toronto. Says without a doubt if no CBA in the next three weeks, advertising dollar will go elsewhere. Says every sponsor wants hockey to come back and they want to advetise in it, but they have to start placing ad dollars in other markets if no deal is done. Will still target their demo, which is men and will buy CFL, Comedy Network, NFL, etc.

Have you Heard...

Jeff Gordon's rendition of "Take me out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley "Stadium" (as he referred to it) yesterday. Clicking will open WMP video.



nhl- No word yet on CBA Meeting

No information on the CBA meeting in Chicago has become available. Just hope it doesn't go until 11pm like last week.
I do wonder if Bill Wirtz popped into the meeting and brought his legal advisor with him, none other than John Ziegler.

nhl- Make Radical Changes

More from James Patrick of the Sabres
from Eric Duhatschek and the Toronto Globe and Mail (paid sub.), James Patrick, the Buffalo Sabres' defenceman and hockey theoretician, believes the NHL is on the right track when it comes to discussing ways of improving the product, but he also has a question.
What took so long?
"I want radical change," said the Sabres' 41-year-old defenceman. "We're below bowling in the TV ratings. We're below poker. Canada's always going to be there for hockey, but we're like 12th in TV in the States. Something's got to change. If you're a skilled player, you can't ply for your trade anymore."
On Monday, Patrick suggested that in any resolution to the NHL lockout, the league must give the players association something they can sell to its membership.
Patrick didn't specify what that something should be, but logically, eight-plus months into a bitter, dividing dispute, the best that they could hope for is to push the game's upside.
If the two sides agree on an economic system tied to the league's overall revenues, then the onus will be on both sides to, a) get the lockout into the history books as soon as possible; and b) tweak the product so that it doesn't alienate traditionalists, but makes the game more appealing to a broader audience.
"Three, four years ago, I started thinking, 'they've got to make the nets bigger,'" said Patrick. "I remember mentioning it to a few players and the reaction was, 'you are from outer space, not a chance.'
The larger nets will get a second look in early June when the league tries out some possible changes in a mini-tournament that they're staging in Toronto.
"I'm glad they're doing it, but I think they need a month, not three days," said Patrick.
Patrick also objected to the fact that goaltenders were allowed to deliver the definitive word on larger nets, rejecting the idea out of hand, before the concept could be tested in the kind of laboratory setting the NHL is trying to pull together for Toronto next month.
"These goalies were fighting equipment change for the last 10 years and have been cheating for 30 years, so I don't think they should have any credibility," said Patrick. "A big part of it is, the goalies are the best players on every team now. That's slowly evolved over the past 10 years. They're the superstars of the league and the highest-paid players and they're the TV announcers. They practically run the league.

nhl- Some owners interested in buyout Bid

from cnnmoney, A $4 billion bid to buy all the teams of the National Hockey League would group franchises into three different tiers to determine the payout for their current owners, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the bid would pay $2.25 billion for the 10 most valuable teams, while the next 10 would split $1 billion and the 10 least valuable would split $750 million.
The offer from Bain Capital LLC and Game Plan LLC is still seen as a longshot, but the latest offer has garnered support from about a third of team owners, according to the report.
A number of smaller sports leagues, including Major League Soccer and the Women's National Basketball Association have common ownership of all teams, which limits competition for high-priced stars. It is not at all clear that the National Hockey League Players Association would agree to common ownership in their ongoing labor negotiations with the league.
The 2004-'05 NHL season was cancelled due to a lockout of players by owners, who are looking for a salary cap to limit team payrolls.
NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur declined to comment to the newspaper.
A valuation of NHL franchises in 2004 by Forbes shows that the most expensive team, the New York Rangers, is worth $282 million, while the least valuable is the Carolina Hurricanes, worth an estimated $100 million.
The total for the 30 teams was $4.9 billion, according to the estimates from the magazine, a leading tracker of team values. But those valuations came before the lockout and any drop in value that the loss of a full season may have caused.

nhl- Deal in Priciple by Tomorrow?

fromthe Philadelphia Inquirer, For the first time since the cancellation of the NHL season in February, there is a real buzz of optimism that a deal to end the lockout is very near.
Unlike the weekend following the cancellation, when reports had Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux riding into New York to save the day, this time it's based more on reality than rumors and what sources are saying.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume again today in Chicago and follow serious, marathon sessions last week in New York. At the conclusion of those meetings, there was a grudging admission that progress was being made.
It was grudging because anyone who understands the complexity of what the league and the players union are facing knows there is a lot of work to
be done. The lockout began in September.
Besides economics, there are free-agency issues, decisions on rookie contracts, arbitration and rules. But the main stumbling block until now was based on money. Who gets what share of the league revenues and how that money would be divided among the 30 teams, to be exact.
But the concepts have been agreed upon, apparently. A sliding salary cap based on year-to-year revenues is what is emerging as the working concept.
And people are almost giddy to the point of saying that a deal could even be made in principle by tomorrow.
That I find impossible to believe. It looks more like the middle of June to me. That was what the league's chief negotiator, Bill Daly, mentioned to a New York-based Web site last weekend.
Asked yesterday if he was really that optimistic, Daly said he didn't intend for that to get out but, well, now that it had he said, "Yes. I'm hopeful."...read on...

nhl- Salary Cap Numbers Agreed Upon, Not Revenue

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association will get together today and tomorrow in Chicago for more talks, but it appears that serious negotiating will have to wait.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow will not attend this round of talks. The plan is for small groups from each side to meet and continue the review of individual clubs' financial information that began last week.
The union has agreed to upper and lower salary limits based on club-by-club revenues, but the sides are not close on numbers. An even bigger stumbling block is an agreement on what constitutes hockey-related revenue, which is why both sides are going over the finances of individual clubs.
Last week's sessions ended with both sides announcing that progress had been made, although that optimism seemed rather muted yesterday...more...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

nhl- Times have Changed

Of interest to Detroit fans.
From Wed. Detroit Free Press(Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Wings beat writer) via the Mercury News, First, I went down to the Hockeytown Cafe in Detroit.
Now, I didn't expect a lot of people. It was a cool, damp Monday night. The Tigers were on the road, there were no concerts and the Pistons were on TV, not the Red Wings.
But geez. I pushed on the revolving door about 8 p.m., the scheduled tip-off time, and the door didn't revolve. It wouldn't budge. I cupped my hands around my eyes and peered in a window. The place was dark, dead. Closed.
I was locked out.
Then, I went out to the Hoop City Grille in Southfield. Now, I did expect a lot of people. This was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat. You'd think Pistons fans would hit a Pistons spot.
But geez. I drove up a little before 9 p.m., during the first half, and it looked like I'd have no luck getting in there, either. The parking lot was pretty full, and the valet was busy. There was a long line out the door. The place was jammed, packed. Crazy.
I was crowded out.
These are the official satellites of Joe Louis Arena and the Palace. Both try to replicate a game experience. Both give a glimpse of the sports scene.
That Hockeytown was a ghost town and Hoop City was hopping to that degree was a striking sign of the times, of how quickly things can change.
One minute, the Red Wings are on top, and everything sporting their logo is gold. The next, thanks to a lockout and a canceled season, they're gone.
You couldn't blame the Hockeytown manager for closing the Cafe early Monday night. If there were NHL playoffs right now, if the Wings were still alive, things would be different. But it's an event-driven business. No events, no business, no reason to stay open.
The situation, Ilitch Holdings spokesman John Hahn said, "is a reflection upon the fact that we aren't playing this year."
One minute, the Pistons are in the shadows, struggling to regain center stage. The next, thanks to an NBA title and a run toward a second, they're the hot thing.
There was quite a lineup of fine automobiles Monday in front of Hoop City - Benzes and Beemers, Caddys and Corvettes, all kinds of customized rides.
"Most of the cars that I park up in the VIP area have rims that cost more than my car does," said Dan Wagner, the manager of Four Star Valet.
And these weren't even the stars of the show.
"We've got a Maybach," Wagner said, pointing to a deep-blue luxury living-room-on-wheels sitting right in front. "That's a six-figure car right there."
Members of the Lions and Shock sat in the VIP room. In the thick, young and urban crowd, people were dressed up or stylishly dressed down. Fans cheered as if they were at the game, banging ThunderStix before the giant TV screens.
"All the people up in here are like true-to-life Pistons fans, so it's pretty fun," said Tiffani Rhodes, 22, of Detroit, who has been going to college in Missouri. "I haven't been here in so long, and you kind of forget what Detroiters are like. Being here, it's like, only in Detroit would you see this type of crowd, this type of intensity."
When Rasheed Wallace hit a huge three in the third quarter, the fans in the Studio Room - an area with terraced seating, a theater-sized TV screen and a dance floor made out of the 1989-90 Palace court - went absolutely bonkers.
When `Sheed missed a three, they gave a loud, "Awww!"
When `Sheed flapped his arms, they flapped their arms.
"The Hockeytown Cafe is the Wings," said Fred Jones, 28, of Detroit. "When the Wings are hot, we're down there with the Wings. Believe that. But right now, Hoop City, it's where it's at."

nhl- The Clash

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, The clash of the hockey titans is about to take place.
On one side of the rink are the Optimists. On the other, the Pessimists.
A winner may come out of the pair of NHL-NHL Players’ Association meetings Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago.
Interestingly neither NHL Commssioner Gary Bettman nor his union counterpart, Bob Goodenow are expected at the meetings but that is not regarded in any way as a braking factor in terms of progress toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess whether hockey’s worst Civil War will end by early June – as some respected analysts believe – or whether the hockey industry will suffer even more unprecedented devastation.
There is reason to believe that all meaningful elements are in place for a deal; assuming – as I am – that you’re willing to take the word of a chief NHL negotiator.
That explains why that particular bargaining agent – and there are many – tells me that there IS cause for hope.
“It’s not even about dollars anymore,” he insists, “and not about principles. Goodenow has agreed to every principle we need. I can't understand why he is dragging his feet."
Soundings from the union side have been less clear and less hopeful.
When a player agent suggested on Tuesday to an NHLPA attorney in Toronto that it appears as if the warring factions, at last, are en route to a deal, the unionist shot back, disparagingly, “Don’t be so sure!”
Likewise, in an interview with the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan, Detroit Red Wings’ senior vice-president Jim Devellano takes a very cautious view of proceedings.
“A deal isn’t complete until a deal is done,” says Devellano. “It’s good that they are talking and meeting quite a bit. But there’s work remaining to be done.”
Many NHL leaders, including Devellano, remain perplexed by Goodenow’s apparent intransigence and reluctance to more vigorously negotiate....read on...

nhl- Let's Be Fair

from Eric Duhatschek and the Toronto Globe and Mail (paid sub.), "I know the players want to play," said James Patrick who, at the age of 41, would have been the oldest player in the NHL last season, if there had in fact been a season. "I think the negotiating committee and (NHLPA executive director) Bob Goodenow are hearing a lot of players say, 'we do not want to sit out another year, get a deal done.' There's certainly that feeling.
"But I also think, (commissioner) Gary Bettman has to be somewhat fair. He has to say to them, 'look, this is a fair deal for the players and it's something you can take to them.' Because if Bettman tries to hardball them so hard, then Goodenow has no option but to play this out and see how it goes."
Patrick's argument makes sense on a lot of levels, notwithstanding the fact that if the NHLPA is battered into submission by the current negotiations, it will be difficult to get everybody to put on a smiling, happy face once they settle the dispute and try to sell the game again to an increasingly indifferent public.
"If they spoke that long over two days, I'm hoping something positive comes out of it," said Patrick, who would like to play again next season, assuming the Sabres want him back. "It seems that in the past, seven hours was as much as they could take of each other, sitting there, not getting anything done. These seem like they were 14-hour meetings, so that's a good thing."
It's a good thing if it leads to progress. It's a good thing if it leads to a settlement. It'll really be a good thing if they can negotiate some kind of agreement that leaves both sides smiling in the end. One wonders if, at this late stage in the deadlock, such a thing is even possible anymore.

nhl- Talks very Productive

from the Hockey News, Add Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan to the list of NHL insiders who are optimistic a new collective bargaining agreement is finally in sight.
“The marathon meetings we held last week were very productive,” said Shanahan, a participant in lengthy talks between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association May 19 and 20. “I have hope and expectations that we’re moving in the right direction and that a deal can get done.”
Shanahan originally was invited to the talks because of his efforts to spark discussion on improving the on-ice product. A joint player-league competition committee is expected to be part of the next CBA.

nhl- Too early to get Excited

from the CP and TSN, "It's too early to get excited," Vincent Damphousse, a member of the players' executive committee, said Tuesday. "I hope it's going to get settled but it's too soon to be too optimistic or to say that we're close to agreeing on a deal. It's too premature to say that.
"But we're meeting and we're talking about all kinds of things and we're trying to find common ground. That's the best way I can describe things right now."

The rest of the story is here and was brought up a few posts ago, but I failed to point out the Damphousse quote and thought it was important since it the the first reaction from anyone on the NHLPA side other than Saskin.

nba- Pistons making Money

The Pistons broke “into the black during the second round of this year’s playoffs, the earliest profit for the team in recent years,” according to John Lombardo of Sports Busniness Journal(paid sub.). Pistons COO Alan Ostfield said, “Last year, we just about broke even during the Finals, but this year, we have sold out every game and increased television, merchandise and sponsorship revenue.” Sources said that the team’s profit it is “expected to be in the low seven figures.” Lombardo reports sponsorship and TV ad revenue have increased by 18%, and merchandise sales are up 20%. The team has a $55M payroll and led the league in attendance this year with an average of 22,076 fans. The Pistons raised ticket prices by an average of about $5 this season. The Pistons also “derived new revenue from five new luxury suites” that became available in the middle of the season and cost $450,000 each.

nhl- Daly hedging a Bit

from TSN, The National Post reports that National Hockey League chief legal officer Bill Daly told a New York-based sports website that, if collective bargaining talks with the players' association continue to progress as they did last Friday, a deal could "get done by early June."
Daly was also quoted by MSGNetwork.com columnist Stan Fischler as saying, "we are on our way home."
Additional meetings have been scheduled to take place later this week.
When contacted by the Post, Daly appeared to back away a bit from his earlier comments.
"Obviously, the sooner we can get this done and behind us, the better off we'll all be," he told the Post by email. "We'll have to see if we can continue to make progress. It's really too early to say when a deal could be concluded.

"We didn't get anything resolved, per se, but I thought we had a good, productive week of meetings last week," Daly added to the Post. "Hopefully, we can continue and build off of that."
The NHL and NHL Players' Association will resume labour talks Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago.
continued...

nhl- Work still needs to be Done

from the Detroit News, Optimism is fine, but a healthy dose of realism is good, too.
After a lockout that canceled an entire season, and with precious little headway in months of negotiations, the NHL and the Players Association might finally have had enough and could be ready to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.
But the positive vibes coming out of last week's discussions need to be tempered somewhat, said Jimmy Devellano, senior vice president / alternate governor for the Red Wings.
"A deal isn't complete until a deal is done," Devellano said Monday. "It's good that they are talking and meeting quite a bit. But there's work remaining to be done."
The sudden urge to complete a deal could be the realization that much-needed revenue is slipping away.
Manny Legace, player representative for the Wings, said last week the owners and players realize many side issues such as television contracts and sponsorships must be completed -- quickly.
Given that, Legace said negotiations between the sides have been more intense in recent weeks.
The sides met for more than 30 hours over three days last week, fueling talk of progress.
ESPN has until June 1 to renew a $60 million contract to televise games next season. Important sponsorships and advertising deals also must be finalized soon.
Doug Checkeris, president of Media Company in Toronto, told the Canadian Globe & Mail last week advertisers will go elsewhere with their money if a settlement isn't reached soon.
"Every day that goes by, the league probably loses some money," Checkeris said. "This is the moment for them to announce they have an agreement to maximize their television revenue for the fall. ... Most people don't think it's an issue until the fall, but really all of the dollars are all getting committed now."
Devellano said that to his knowledge the Wings haven't lost any sponsors or advertisers.
Another significant source of income is season tickets. Most teams send renewals in June, shortly before the regular-season schedule is released in early July.
Wings season-ticket holders should expect renewals for the 2005-06 season in late June, said Devellano.
"We're still discussing some things, going over some plans," Devellano said. "Normally those renewals don't go out until late June, anyway."

nhl- Wild ticket prices expected to remain the same Price

The Minnesota Wild has begun making plans for the coming NHL season, despite uncertainty about when or whether it will start.
Season-ticket holders who requested a refund from the cancelled 2004-05 campaign were sent information in recent days requesting a deposit be made to secure their seats for 2005-06. Pamela Wheelock, the Wild's chief financial officer, said about one-third of those with season tickets wanted refunds.
The rest elected to have their deposits rolled over to 2005-06 and aren't affected by the team's letter. The Wild has sold 16,500 season tickets and has a waiting list of 6,500.
The Wild is requiring deposits of $750 per seat in the club level, $500 in the lower level and $200 in the upper level. Wheelock said those who don't put money down will lose their right to the seats; those on the waiting list will get the chance to buy the available season tickets starting about mid-July. The organization says no more payments will have to be made until a new contract is reached.
"I would say we're taking a different approach than we normally do, recognizing that it's not a typical time for us," Wheelock said. "This allows us to do some planning and get ready for next year. But it recognizes that we still don't have a [collective bargaining agreement] in place, and we've tried to listen to the fans and modify our approach in a way that we hope people feel applies some common sense to our thinking."
As for ticket prices when the Wild does return, no decisions have been made. However, it's expected that they will remain about the same. "I think it really depends on what the [collective bargaining agreement] looks like, but we're thinking it's unlikely to have any increase or a significant increase," Wheelock said.

nhl- More Testing

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The National Hockey League doesn't know when its next regular season will begin, but it has plans to test the number of rule changes that have been debated by the league's general managers and the NHL's hockey operations department.
The league will soon announce that representatives from its 30 member clubs will be in Toronto from June 6 to 8 to attend three days of scrimmages, in which different combinations of rule changes will be showcased.
"Everything will be under the spotlight, even the extreme proposals," a league source said.
That means one or more of the six scrimmages will be played with enlarged nets that were scrutinized at the general managers' meeting in the Detroit area last month.
The league is busy compiling rosters of 20-year-old junior players, such as Kitchener Rangers defenceman Andre Benoit, who are not attached to NHL teams. The invited players will be divided into teams that will play morning and afternoon games...more...

Monday, May 23, 2005

nhl- Looking at June 10th

From Stan Fischler and FoxSports,
  • This just in from a source delivering a "guarantee" about the CBA. "It will be done by June 10." (This guy's crystal ball has a .750 batting average.) Reality tells us the following: 1. Many tough knots (arbitration, NHLPA rule over agents) remain untied; 2. Remember our infallible equation, which has been correct up until now: As long as Bob Goodenow calls the shots, there'll be no deal. And he's still calling them!
  • Yes, player unrest is palpable. But, then again, sheep get restless, too. No player has had the courage to step up and lead the anti-Goodenow faction the way Mike Milbury did against the first NHLPA boss, Al Eagleson.
Read a lot more...

nhl- Could this be the Week

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, For the first time since the NHL season was cancelled last February, there appears to be genuine traction developing in negotiations between the league and its players’ association.
We’ll know for sure when the warring factions meet on Wednesday, starting with small groups – as they did last week in New York – and likely working toward a larger conference at week’s end.
Two disparate sources are reporting that the Big League Hockey Express – alias the A, as in Agreement, Train -- is rolling again toward its CBA Terminal.
When it will get there nobody knows but mid-June now is considered a distinct possibility.
One of the sources is NHL-connected and the other is union-linked, via a player representative.
The NHL source has been thoroughly realistic throughout the whole, ugly lockout mess. Not once has he exuded emphatic hope for a deal. At least, not until late Monday.
So, when I asked him the simple question about cause for optimism, I was stunned to the core when he answered in the affirmative.
"Yes, there is, although there’s always the possibility that the talks could explode,” he asserted. “And they could get derailed once or twice before we reach an agreement.”
Then, I phoned a former high NHL team official who still is extremely close to league happenings. He had just spoken to a player rep and was enthused.
“From what he tells me,” this well-known hockey person insisted, “a deal could be done by June 10th.”...read on...

nhl- CBA Meetings this Week

via Sportnet, The National Hockey League and the NHLPA are finalizing details on another two day session later this week.
Sources tell Sportsnet lockout discussions are expected to resume Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago.
As it stands now, neither Bob Goodenow nor Gary Bettman will be part of this weeks group dynamic with the focus believed to still be on accounting and financial related items.
The lawyers and principals from each side represent the makeup of the next meeting, and while the league remains confident a deal will be reached relatively soon, the union is more careful in how it distributes its optimism with PA sources suggesting a number of areas of disagreement have yet to be resolved.

Heads Up

  • ESPN is “considering doing away” with “NFL Primetime” when the new TV rights deals take effect in ’06, “instead doing a live show” at 6:00pm ET Mondays that would extend the live lead-in to “MNF.” Under the new deal, ESPN “is not allowed to do” a live show on Sunday at 7:00pm ET because NBC now owns those rights.
  • Advanced Micro Devices and Hewlett-Packard “are teaming up on a limited edition series of notebook computers in tribute to” Lance Armstrong. The computer, which will have the Livestrong motto “printed in yellow and his signature near the keyboard,” goes on sale June 22 for $999-1,399. H-P will donate $50 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation for each computer sold.
  • The NFL “for the first time wants a part of all local revenue, and not just ticket money, to be shared among its teams.” The change, which could “take a cut of the more than $1[B] that teams currently keep 100% of, comes as part of a major revenue-sharing plan” the league will present at this week’s owners’ meetings in DC. While other plans will be presented, the NFL “clearly has come down on the side of subjecting every cent that flows through a team to revenue sharing with its peers.”
  • Blue Jackets President & GM Doug MacLean and a depleted staff are attempting to “maintain a rhythm, as if next season will start on time.” The team “has lost one of its five major sponsors, Bank One,” but MacLean said, “It isn’t finalized yet.” Also, during the “last year-plus, 45 people have left the Blue Jackets’ front office and have not been replaced.” MacLean indicated that 70% of season-ticket holders have kept their money with the team, which is paying interest.”

olympics- Put your logo on Adam Nelson

Olympic shotput silver medalist Adam Nelson is auctioning off ad space on his uniform on eBay through Wednesday. Nelson “recently lost two sponsors and sought help to defray his $20,000 annual training expenses.” He will wear the winner’s logo at meets on May 30 and June 11, as well as at the U.S. Championships in June.

I have an idea, the NHL and NHLPA should get in on the bidding. It might be the most exposure they recieve on NBC and ESPN all year long.

nhl- Secret Meeting Rumor

I just received and email from a reader of Breaking Sports and this person points out a forum is reporting the NHL & the NHLPA are meeting today in secret.

Three days ago the same forum reported a deal was done but it would not be released until every detail of the CBA was agreed upon.

You can take it for what it is worth, but I have heard nothing about a secret meeting today.

sports- Watch in Luxury

Owner's Pass Membership provides exclusive access to luxury suites at professional sporting events without the prohibitive costs, allocation headaches, or logistical hassles associated with direct suite ownership.
Read the press release.

Not a bad idea, but I wonder how the availability for "big games" will be handled.

This & That

  • The Boston globe reported that Red Sox P Bronson Arroyo hosted Zack Alves at Saturday’s game against the Braves. Alves was suspended from school because he wore his hair in dreadlocks to honor the pitcher. Arroyo: “I’m just blown away that anyone would want to copy my hairstyle. I used to go to school with a Mohawk with Ozzie Smith’s name carved on the side of my head and I never got kicked out of school for it.”
  • The Nwe York Times reports that Viacom co-President & co-COO Leslie Moonves places part of the blame for CBS losing the 18-49 viewership ratings title to Fox this season on Yankees P Mariano Rivera. Moonves feels the race between Fox and CBS was so close that if one of the Yankees-Red Sox playoff games was subtracted, “CBS would have beaten Fox for the year.” The series went to a seventh game, in large part, because of Rivera “squandering several Yankees leads.” Moonves: “Mariano Rivera cost us more money than the Yankees.”
  • The AHL, which is currently in its playoffs, over the weekend surpassed the 7 million attendance mark for the ’04-05 season for the first time in the league’s 69-year history. The league drew 6,675,786 fans during the regular season, for an average of 5,960 per game. Both of those numbers represent single-season records.
  • Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, on the NHL lockout: “How totally stupid is killing an entire season? I kind of hope David Stern and Billy Hunter are paying attention to what’s happened to hockey as they stage their current hissy fit, in which no CBA negotiations are currently being scheduled. Hey guys, you’re not football, you’re not baseball. Like hockey, you’re replaceable in the eyes of the American public.”

Sunday, May 22, 2005

nba & nhl- NBA feeling heat from NHL Owners

from the New York Times (reg. req.), At first, all an agreement (NBA) seemed to require was some fresh paint and a touch-up here and there to an old collective-bargaining contract favored by most owners. For example, the league wants to reduce the years on maximum contracts from seven to five and set an age limit of 20 for incoming players. It'll probably get a reasonable concession from the union on six years, with an entry age of 19.
But, apparently, some N.B.A. owners with N.H.L. ties are itching to squeeze the union out of self-protection. As a rule, N.H.L. owners are binge shoppers with no fiscal common sense, one clue as to why hockey franchises are plunged into six shades of red.
Instead of therapy, N.H.L. owners are seeking help by demanding cost certainty in their collective-bargaining negotiations to enforce self-control.
N.H.L. owners have watched their fan base decrease while payrolls have escalated upon the exit of Wayne Gretzky and the decline of big-market teams.
Do they see a similar fate for the N.B.A. in the afterlife of Jordan and the dysfunctional disasters known as the Lakers and Knicks? Maybe N.H.L. owners with hoop interests fear a second lap with a money pit.

nhl- Happ Days may be Premature

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, That awful noise some of us are now hearing on NHL tracks is not the A (as in Agreement) Train heading to the Peace Terminal but rather brakes agonizingly grinding the express full of optimism to at least a temporary halt.
It is possible -- if not conceivable -- that the positive euphoria emanating from four meeting days worth of talks to end the NHL-NHLPA Civil War once again was premature.
Granted that statements issued by both parties contained more hopeful signs than ever. And that the league’s chief negotiator, Bill Daly, told me that a deal could be done “by early June.”
But Daly inserted a major asterisk; “If we continue on the same level that we did on Friday…”
And as William Shakespeare once - very accurately - observed, “There is much virtue in ‘If.’”
During the weekend, I contacted my one -- and only -- NHL source whose predictions since September have been unerringly accurate. The question put to him was simply: “Is widespread optimism justified?”
SCREEECCH!!
The answer was negative; with reason.
My impeccable source contacted an NHL official in the midst of the Friday conference. He was told by the man at the meetings that they were “not making much progress.”
Of course, the next question is; how do you define “progress"?
According to my informant, the Players’ Association -- led by Bob Goodenow -- is “looking for give-backs and the league has nothing to give back.”
He adds, ”Goodenow is into give-and-take but there’s not much ‘give’ on our side. And for good reason; the league has been beaten up by the NHLPA for a dozen years.”
Another disturbing revelation, via my insider, is that during the marathon Thursday night meeting, at least part of the union delegation walked out; and not to do aerobics.
“My conclusion,” the insightful source goes on, “is that, unless big-time pressure is put on Goodenow by the players, he will not make a deal....read on...

nhl- Optimism, Why Now

from the Delcotimes, There may not be a ticker-tape parade planned, but it appears the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association may finally come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement before school lets out for summer. Sources from both sides have expressed optimism that a deal is near and that a major announcement could come as soon as next week, if not the week after.
Why now?
Well, word around the campfire is some of the league’s major sponsors have quietly told the NHL that unless a deal is in place by June 15 they will take their money someplace else.
Which is why both sides know that a deal needs to get done.
Players are pushing leadership to stop dragging their feet and get the deal done. The owners have decided they’ve lost enough money.
Sure, there’ll still be some posturing still from both sides. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has already threatened to cancel the 2005-06 season if a deal isn’t in place by the 15th.
Also expect union boss Bob Goodenow to throw out a couple more lines about how about there’s no progress being made.
And he will, no doubt, try to squeeze the owners any way he can the rest of the way, but rest assured, he will make some concessions in areas that have been non-starters for so long.
What exactly the new deal will entail is unknown, but expect a salary cap in the $45 million range.
It also appears that three things that as recently as a month ago were all but cancelled may once again be back on the table....continued...

nhl- Say a Prayer

from the Toronto Sun via Slam, For nearly a quarter century, 1,604 games as a linesman and 23 games as a referee, John D'Amico was the picture of health, a powerful, honest man proud of his Italian heritage and his association with the National Hockey League.
The other day, when I visited him at Princess Margaret Hospital, I remembered a fighter who never was afraid to separate even the toughest combatants on the ice, but this time, I saw his cancer-stricken body seemingly getting the upper hand over a mind not willing to give in --if not for his sake, then for that of his wife Dorothy, his children Jeff, Anthony, Angelo and Tina and his grandchildren whose pictures adorned the sad walls of the private hospital room.
John's face was gaunt. His once-piercing brown eyes offered a fatigued look from behind the oxygen mask that makes it easier to breathe air into his ravaged lungs.
"I'm tired, very tired," he said in a mask-muffled voice. "I don't know how long I will be able to fight it, but I'm not giving up."...read on...



nhl- Coffee getting Cold

Usually on a Sunday morning, I like to sit down and read the hockey articles. Today, nothing, zilch, nada.
As I have mentioned the past, the cap figures have been agreed upon, but the sticking pointis the percentage of revenue sharing. The PA wants 57% and the NHL wants it at 54%. Will they meet half way and settle somewhere in-between?
This week should be a make or break time period for the CBA negotiations. Hopefully the two sides will get together on Tuesday and continue with their marathon negotiation meetings.
Hurry up people, my coffee is getting cold.