Breaking Sports

Saturday, June 04, 2005

nhl- What is going On

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The groups are examining financial data in hopes of coming to an agreement of what constitutes hockey revenue and how it is allocated to individual clubs, particularly in cases where the NHL club owner also operates a National Basketball Association franchise.
NHL vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement released last night that "while we are making progress, we still have a lot of work to do."
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin was more cryptic in his statement. He acknowledged only that small-group discussions were held and the parties will meet again next week.
Once there is an agreement on what makes up hockey revenue, the aim is to apply that to a system of a salary cap tied to a percentage of revenue. But the parties seem a long way from agreeing on what form that system would take.
In his statement, Daly said the league hopes "to begin discussing a myriad of other . . . issues" next week, which could be taken as a sign an agreement on revenue is close.
But sources on both sides say the talks remain in a delicate stage, and that a long list of issues could bring them to a halt at any time.
The next sign of progress will be the resumption of full negotiations between the sides, including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow. It was hoped that that would have started late this week, but the study of the financial information took longer than expected.
Throughout the NHL, work directed toward a new season in the fall is continuing, and not just in club offices. Player agents, whose income collapsed along with their clients' during the lockout, are working longer hours these days.

nhl- In the Dark

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post, With negotiating committees from both the NHL and the PA having concluded their week's work yesterday in Toronto, a sense of frustration — if not confusion — resulting from an absence of information seems to afflicting a meaningful portion of the union rank-and-file.
As the parties broke after a third consecutive day of discussions focused on NHL financials, and with promises to schedule another series of meetings next week, Bob Goodenow left a message on the NHLPA players-only website that was devoid of details. Goodenow did, however, tell the players that those with questions should contact him.
The critical question posed by many players — and their agents — concerns Goodenow's grip on the union, and just who is making the decisions for the PA during what appears to be the beginning of the end game of the lockout.
While there has been widespread reporting of a coup within the Executive Committee leaving Goodenow the boss in name only, that view is not universally accepted by the players.
There has been no announcement of a full-scale PA meeting — with more than 300 players in Europe during the year, there has not been a full-scale meeting of the union since the lockout began on Sept. 15 — but one source indicated that a player in touch with the union on Thursday had been told such a meeting would be held prior to any potential ratification vote.
Meanwhile, sources on both sides of the aisle have indicated that the league has made it clear it has no intention of honoring 2004-05 contracts.

Friday, June 03, 2005

nhl- Recap of the CBA Meeting

from the National Post, Marathon talks will continue next week after the NHL and NHL Players' Association wrapped up more than 34 hours of talks this week.
The two sides met from 8 a.m. EDT to just before 10 p.m. at a downtown Toronto hotel on Friday, on the heels of 10-hour sessions Wednesday and Thursday.
It's not going to happen overnight but the feeling in both camps is that a deal appears possible in the next month or so although talks could still hit a snag.
"We continued our discussions on financial and accounting issues, and while we are making progress, we still have a lot of work to do," said NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly. "The parties have agreed to continue the process with a series of meetings next week, at which time we hope to begin discussing a myriad of other CBA issues."
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin confirmed the two sides would meet next week, but was vague on what was discussed Friday.
"Earlier this evening we concluded three days of small group meetings. Once again a wide range of economic and systemic concepts were discussed. The parties have agreed to continue meeting next week."...more...

nhl- Tide Turning

from Spector and Fox Sports, posted before the end of the CBA meeting today, Could this long nightmare known as the NHL lockout finally come to a close later this month?
Most NHL hockey fans had all but given up hope of a resolution over the course of this bitter labor dispute between the league and its players.
Stalled negotiations, a canceled season and mudslinging between the two sides since the lockout began last September had more than a few fans and reporters suggesting the 2005-06 season might also be in jeopardy.
Yet since last Sunday, when the New York Post detailed an apparent framework of a deal, the media mood has become almost upbeat.
There appears now to be consensus among the pundits that, at long last, a new collective bargaining agreement could be in place by the end of June.
First, it's common knowledge by now that both sides have been working toward establishing the definition of and methods of reporting revenues. The league has throughout the lockout insisted on the next CBA tying salaries to a percentage of revenues. After months of resistance, the NHLPA has agreed to work on that option, but only if revenues can be clearly defined.
It's also apparent that a salary-cap system will be implemented, with a minimum and maximum level, which could increase each season should revenues increase. The league apparently wants the range between those levels to be $10 million; the PA wants it to be larger.
The qualification age for unrestricted free agency will drop over the course of the next CBA from 30 to 29 and finally to 28. Qualifying offers to restricted free agents will apparently be set at 100 percent for those earning over a set amount and possibly 110 percent for those earning less.
The 24 percent salary rollback as offered by the NHLPA last December could be part of the deal, although there was a report this week in the Los Angeles Times suggesting the PA also wants last season's contracts to carry over into next season....more...

nhl- NHLPA Statement

TORONTO (June 3, 2005): At the conclusion of Friday's meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“Earlier this evening we concluded three days of small group meetings. Once again a wide range of economic and systemic concepts were discussed. The parties have agreed to continue meeting next week.”

nhl- NHL Statement

Talks wrap for week; Daly cites progess, 'a lot of work to do'
TORONTO (June 3, 2005) - Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association met once again today as collective bargaining negotiations continued. The session began at approximately 8 a.m., ET, and concluded at approximately 8:30 p.m. Over the past three days, the parties met for an approximate total of 34 hours.
After Friday's session, the following statement was released by Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer:
"We continued our discussions on financial and accounting issues, and while we are making progress, we still have a lot of work to do. The parties have agreed to continue the process with a series of meetings next week, at which time we hope to begin discussing a myriad of other CBA issues."

nhl- Meeting Over

Ended about 9pm, more to come....

nhl- Mike Brophy from the Hockey News

Brophy was on Team 590 radio in Toronto says Goodenow is like his 97 Saturn, treated him well but time to trade it in. Can't see how he can keep his job. Put a great system in but moving forward you have to ask the question.. Do you want Bob and Bettman in charge? He says it is time for both to move on.
He hopes the NHL comes back with rules that allows the great players to be great. Rules must be enforced to let the stars play.
Brophy says it is a real priority of the NHL to define obstruction and make sure everyone knows the rules and that they are enforced. Refs need to call hooking at the 5 minute mark and with a minute to go in the game, no exceptions.

nhl- Cracking the Nut

from bob McKenzie and TSN, The reason that the NHL and NHL Players' Association have been talking for as many hours and days as they have is because they are what I like to call, 'cracking the nut.'
That nut in question is the very economic system that both sides are trying to put together.
That means linkage, revenues, what percentage that players are going to get, the salary cap, salary floor and what that range in between is going to be.
Now they have both agreed on that framework - on how they want things to work - but they haven't been able to plug the numbers in yet. That's not surprising because while they are making progress, Bob Goodenow and the NHL Players' Association are not going to roll over and play dead.
By all accounts, Goodenow is at his combative best in these meetings trying to secure everything that he possibly can under the circumstances for his constituents.
The bottom line is that once they get that nut cracked, it will be easier to move on to everything else....more...

nhl- Radical Offsides

from Sportsnet, One of the most radical experiments that will be tried during the three-day NHL research camp next week would obliterate obstruction and free up skilled players to score more goals.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Get this: the blue-lines are replaced by thin lines five feet from the top of the faceoff circles.
"Once you get past the pass line, you can pass anywhere on the ice," says Boston general manager Mike O'Connell, who developed the idea with Bruins president Harry Sinden after giving it a test with their AHL farmhands on Fleet Center ice in February.
The change would allow forwards more freedom to find open ice, significantly reducing the ability of checkers to obstruct their movements.
"Harry and I kicked it around," O'Connell says of the idea. "We're trying to find a way to open the game up.
"A lot has been said about obstruction. We feel the ice surface, as it is, makes it difficult to get away from obstruction. You watch old games on TV and most teams were focused on scoring. Now they're focused on defence. This is a framework to make it harder to defend."
Anything to negate neutral zone trap defences would be a blessing.
"A player like Bobby Orr, whose skills were so well displayed when he would carry the puck at high speeds with great puck control, I don't think he could do that today because of the traffic they set up between the blue-lines," says Sinden. "That area can get jammed up by as many as 10 players at a time....continued...

nhl- I don't like Bob, by Stan

from The Maven and MSG Network, There are two ways to view the agonizingly endless peace talks between big-league hockey’s owners and players which resumed Friday in Toronto.
First, there’s the Lou Lamoriello Theory: “As long as they keep talking, it’s good.”
So far, so good. They ARE still talking.
Second, there’s the No Goodenow Theory which suggests that as long as Bob Goodenow is commanding the union side, he will stall the talks to death.
“He has stalled from the very beginning,” a league negotiator tells me. “That’s why it’s taken the NHLPA a whole year to finally get around to studying the Levitt (NHL-commissioned) Report.
“Goodenow should have done that a year ago.”
Every day and in every way, the NHL Players’ Association’s Executive Director has become the focus of analysts focusing on the eventual success or CBA failure.
Reports from various Toronto sources – both print and by phone – pinpoint Goodenow as the primary obstacle to an armistice being sought by both NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and many player leaders.
But there is the fear – expressed by many of the most respected Canadian columnists – that the union boss will place his “reputation” above the good and welfare of the league and his membership.
Some believe only an “Anti-Goodenow Missile” in the form of a player rebellion can neutralize the Association’s head. Otherwise, Goodenow will continue his endless stall tactics.
“Having sold out his membership with a flawed strategy,” writes Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons, “Goodenow is now fighting for his own reputation.” on...

nhl- Recap of Thursday CBA Meeting

from 640 Toronto, Pass the tissues, because Bob Goodenow needed them yesterday. His derailment attempt was thwarted by Trevor Linden yesterday and BG left the meetings for about 15 minutes, toweled down and came back in. What this tells us, is that a deal is "imminent" especially since they are gathering today which was not originally scheduled. It would not be surprising if we had a deal in principle today and yet we will never hear those words. The owners announced that in 1995 and they took a bath when the lawyers got to the deal. This time around, no announcement will come until the lawyers say OK. That and we don't want another February on our hands when everyone thought we had a deal and bang, there it went with the migrating geese.

nhl- Sinden on the CBA

from the Boston Herald, Rumors abound that a deal ending the 10-month-old NHL lockout is imminent, perhaps coming within days. Don't hold your breath.
The optimistic speculation has certainly reached the ears of Bruins president Harry Sinden. But based on slightly more tangible information - a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon with B's owner Jeremy Jacobs, one of the key league negotiators - Sinden doubts a deal is quite that close.
``I don't hear a thing about a deal,'' said Sinden. ``Mr. Jacobs was at the meetings (Wednesday and yesterday in Toronto) and he said they were just going on as usual. He really didn't give me any indication (of an imminent settlement) whatsoever. I haven't any indication of anything like that, nothing at all.
``I've been reading the rumors. I hear that things have, what, progressed? That's an overused word in these talks, that's for sure. But they seem to be accomplishing something now. That's all I've heard. They've been quieter in the last two weeks than they've ever been. I don't know. Maybe that means something.'' on...

nhl- Melrose talks on ESPN

from the Rocky Mountain News, Like the NHL, outspoken Barry Melrose has been a fixture on ESPN, but hockey fans might have to get their puck analysis elsewhere whenever the league starts again.
Melrose said he and ESPN's other hockey personnel were told two months ago by network executives that the company was not going to exercise a $60 million option to broadcast NHL games in 2005-06, assuming the lockout is over by then.
"It's unfolding the way they told us it would unfold," Melrose said of ESPN executives. "They can negotiate a new contract with the NHL; that's what they told us they were going to do, that this is how it was going to play. I hope so.
"Maybe someone else will come and give them a bunch of money, but I doubt it. ESPN wants hockey, but they want it at a reduced rate. It's a good fit for ESPN and they've had it for a long time, but not for $60 million a year."
ESPN2 was to broadcast 40 regular-season games in 2004-05 and in 2005-06, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed a lockout in September when the collective-bargaining agreement with the NHL Players' Association expired and he canceled the season in February.
Melrose termed ESPN's action a "wake-up call" for the players.
"I don't think they realize the shape of our sport," he said....more...

nhl- TV and the NHL

from the Ottawa Sun, American television has officially slammed the door -- not to mention the vault -- in the NHL's face.
But there's still a rather wide window of opportunity for the league to resurrect its image in the land where passion for the puck game runs deeper than perhaps anywhere else.
The NHL saw its last pipeline of guaranteed U.S. television cash run dry this week, when ESPN announced it was ending negotiations with the league. The cable giant had an option to fork over $60 million US for NHL television rights in 2005-06, but decided that's too rich a price to pay for a product which has seen its value nosedive because of a season-killing lockout.
Despite all that, the NHL, in a remarkable display of gall, expected ESPN to simply sign over the same cheque it promised before this labour mess poisoned the league's business.
Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive VP of programming and production, said in a conference call he considers the NHL's rights now worth "well below half" of that $60 million. Truth be told, he'd rather get into the same type of revenue-sharing arrangement NBC signed with the NHL.
Can you really blame them?
If you're ESPN, why put up the waiting game again? Why cross your fingers and hope this all gets settled by the end of the month, then have to rebuild the image of a sport that rates below bowling and rodeo in American eyes?
"Last-minute schedule changing is a nightmare," said TSN president Phil King. "If you have a choice, you're not going to do it.
"ESPN had a choice."...more...

nhl- Still Talking

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post, The good news is that she went slow but steady in yesterday's lengthy meeting in Toronto between the NHL and NHLPA, with the sides set to go back at it again today.
The bad news is, well ... there doesn't seem to be any of substantial note. And that's the good news, too.
There were no knockdown pitches thrown by either side, no hints of betrayal. Still, there is much complex work to be accomplished before the league and union can announce an agreement that will end the lockout and allow the NHL to reopen for business.
For instance, a methodology defining calculation of revenue must still be agreed upon before the parties can negotiate the specific parameters of a hard cap.
The Levitt Report upon which the league has relied allocates club suite revenues on a percentage basis according to total building attendance; e.g., if the Senators account hypothetically for 70-percent of the attendance in their building, Levitt reports 70-percent of the total suite revenue to Ottawa, but if, say, the Kings account for 30-percent of the attendance at Staples, LA is allotted 30-percent of the arena's suite revenue under NHL URO reporting.
The union has argued that regardless of attendance figures, 40-percent of suite revenue should be allotted to NHL franchises that share buildings with NBA clubs, with 40-percent to the basketball team and 20-percent for other events. It's believed the PA has proposed that one-team franchises should be credited with 80-percent of the revenue.
There are similar issues relating to reporting of concessions and in-arena advertising monies that must be resolved before the parties can begin to negotiate how to split the revenue. As well, the sides must agree to the numerous and varied mechanics of administering the cap.
For example, there is a debate regarding whether teams would be permitted to be over the cap at any time during the off-season — with the establishment of a compliant date, say, 10 days before the beginning of training camp — or whether teams would have to remain under the cap at all times.
Question: How will the CBA treat teams kicked over the cap through salary arbitration awards? That's a major issue.
It is neither God nor the Devil that is in the details, merely the entire CBA. Which is why, though a deal is in sight, one still needs a high-powered lens to quite see the finished product.

nhl- Work needs to be Done

from the NY Times (reg. req.), "I'm cautiously optimistic," Bill Daly, the league's executive vice president, said in a telephone interview yesterday morning before the groups, led by Commissioner Gary Bettman and the union executive director, Bob Goodenow, met. "But we also realize that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, that there are still issues that need to be resolved."
If the 2005-6 season is to start on time, the league needs a deal in place soon so it can start selling advertising and season tickets.
ESPN's recent decision not to pick up a $60 million option to carry N.H.L. games next season cuts even further into the league's dwindling revenue base, adding pressure on both sides to reach an agreement.
Both sides have apparently agreed that a 24 percent salary rollback that the union offered in December would be part of any new deal.
During a series of recent meetings, the sides have been trying to agree on how to define leaguewide revenue. Once that is done, it is expected that the sides will work out a way to link that revenue to an upper and a lower limit for a salary cap. In February, the league offered a fixed salary cap of $42.5 million over six years, which would not increase during the duration of the collective bargaining agreement, and no minimum salary threshold.
Now, the sides are reportedly discussing a minimum salary threshold and a salary cap that would start off below $42.5 million but that could go higher in proportion to any increase in leaguewide revenue. Another major issue under discussion is what happens to last season's player contracts, worth over $1 billion.

nhl- Season should not have been Lost

from the Toronto Star (reg. req.), It's not wrong to say labour stoppages, whether lockouts or strikes, are indeed sometimes a necessary evil and do in specific instances produce constructive results.
No pain, no gain, as it were.
In the case of the NHL's war with its players union, you can expect that when this owner-instigated lockout finally ends both sides will try to argue that it was all worth it, that they have reached an understanding so profound and fundamental that destroying the entire 2004-05 NHL season was a reasonable sacrifice.
This will, of course, be complete and utter garbage.
Indeed, we have learned over the course of the past few weeks that there was, in fact, absolutely no reason whatsoever that last season needed to go by the wayside.
It was a waste, pure and simple. It did not need to be part of this process.
How do we know this?
Well, the past month has included multiple meetings in which the two sides have attempted to finally agree on the nature and dollar figures of revenues that can reasonably be attributed to an NHL franchise.
According to most sources, an agreement in this area is close, save perhaps figuring out the suite revenue that each team should have to report. In arenas which have multiple tenants, and with organizations (like Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment) that own multiple teams, this isn't always as straightforward as you might think.
That said, it simply requires a deal between the league and union specifying the way in which each team must report these revenues and outlining penalties for incorrect reporting.
You fib, you lose first round draft picks. Simple.
In the end, this will be the groundbreaking part of this deal, or at least the part of the agreement that best insures against another lengthy lockout or strike down the line.
It means every negotiation in the future will be about numbers, not about trust or arguing whether the owners are lying or whether Bill Wirtz is really honestly telling how much the Chicago Blackhawks on...

nhl- Real talks begin Today

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Serious bargaining in the National Hockey League labour dispute may not begin until today, as yesterday's 10-hour meeting turned out to be another study session by small groups on both sides.
The groups were going over financial information from the NHL's 30 clubs in hopes of reaching an agreement between the club owners and the National Hockey League Players' Association on what constitutes hockey revenue. Once that happens, the serious negotiations will begin over a salary cap that is a percentage of revenue.
It was thought those negotiations would begin yesterday, but digesting the financial data, which began more than a week ago, has taken longer than expected. However, the larger groups, which will include NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow, are expected to meet today after the smaller groups finish their business...more...

nhl- All about Bob

from the Toronto Sun, The Discouraging whisper came from one of the people who has been in on the hockey negotiations, with the story rarely changing, only the subplots.
"The deal will get done when Bob (Goodenow) wants it to get done and not before."
Bob Goodenow, having sold out his membership with a flawed strategy, having done an about-face on so many issues he should consider working for Paul Martin in his next life, now is fighting for his own reputation.
Or whatever may be left of it.
The most remarkable aspect of Goodenow's ill-fated battle with the National Hockey League and Gary Bettman is how he has miraculously maintained the trust of his fractured membership when everything he had the players believing in has gone awry.
Maybe that says as much about hockey players as a group and their willingness to stand up for themselves as it does about Goodenow's phenomenal leadership skills. Maybe it has been one dynamic working with the other, but as a deal grows imminently closer and the lawyers from both sides continue to try to pinpoint what exactly is revenue and what isn't, the largest stumbling block to a collective bargaining agreement remains the apparent split within the players themselves.
At various times throughout these negotiations, there has been the belief that Goodenow and his chief negotiator, Ted Saskin, have stopped talking to each other. At various times, there have been rumblings that Players' Association president Trevor Linden and Goodenow had battled angrily over the direction to take in negotiations.
Some players will tell you this is absolute truth and some will tell you it is absolute nonsense....continued...

nhl- Deal is not Imminent

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The Answerman returns to discuss the latest frenzy of speculation surrounding the collective bargaining negotiations …
Q: Let's review. On Saturday, you suggested to the handful of people still monitoring the ongoing CBA talks that they should adopt a position "of studied neutrality" as the two sides continue to slog through the myriad of issues that need to be resolved before a signed, sealed and delivered document can be produced.
You also suggested it would take from two to three weeks of uninterrupted negotiations, without setbacks or stalls, to produce that sort of a final agreement. Then on Wednesday, there was a flurry of talk suggesting that such a document was about to be delivered imminently. What happened? Did the timetable move up that fast?
A: Of course not. The fact is, nothing much really changed between Saturday and Wednesday, other than the fact that the usual suspects on radio and in print rushed to "break" a story that wasn't ready to be broken yet. This temptation to jump the gun happens whenever progress, however slight, has been made in these on...

nhl- Signs of Optimism

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, There are still far too many issues -- serious issues -- to resolve for anyone to declare an end to hockey fans' nightmare.
However, signs of optimism and progress continued yesterday as representatives of National Hockey League club owners and players met through the day and late into the night in yet another attempt to bring the lockout to an end.
The fact the talks did not break up early was a good sign, as the discussions were to focus on the revenue figures brought to the session by the smaller groups of negotiators on both sides.
The owners and players have been working toward a rough agreement on what constitutes hockey revenue for each on...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

nhl- NHLPA Statement

TORONTO (June 2, 2005): At the conclusion of today's meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
"We continued our small group meeting throughout the day and evening, and plan to meet again tomorrow morning in both small and large groups. We will not be making further comment until tomorrow's meetings have concluded."

nhl- NHL Statement

National Hockey League and Union representatives met in small groups for another 10 hours Thursday, the second straight day of meetings. After the session, NHL Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly (left) said in a statement that he would defer comment on the status of negotiations, which are to resume Friday.

nhl- Meeting Over

via TSN, The NHL and NHL Players' Association held their larger bargaining session on Thursday, wrapping up talks at 8:30pm et.
Both sides were attempting to find common ground on team-by-team revenues and how to associate them to a salary cap.
Both sides have agreed that a salary cap model with an upper and lower limit will be the centre piece of the collective bargaining agreement, but have laboured through the financial review in order to tie revenues to the moving cap figure.
Wednesday's smaller group meeting went from 11am et until 9:30pm et.

update 9:29pm Representing the league Thursday was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, chief legal officer Bill Daly, lawyer Shep Goldfein, NHL general counsel David Zimmerman, director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold.
The NHLPA had executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, outside counsel John McCambridge, associate counsel Ian Pulver, director of business relations Mike Gartner, Detroit Red Wings veteran player Brendan Shanahan, and the players' executive committee: Trevor Linden, Vincent Damphousse, Bill Guerin, Daniel Alfredsson, Arturs Irbe, Trent Klatt and Bob Boughner.
Another meeting has been scheduled for Friday.

nhl- No News on CBA

Looks like another long night. Will keep you posted on the meeting.

nhl- TSN Insiders discuss CBA

The boys at TSN talk (will open WMP video) about what may be going on in the CBA meeting.

nhl- Pittsburgh Sale

via Sportsnet, When there's a National Hockey League to return to, the Pittsburgh Penguins may have new ownership to guide the franchise into the new landscape.
Multiple sources tell Sportsnet a combined group from San Jose and Portland have tabled an offer to buy the team.
"It's the most serious offer so far," one source said in describing the bid. However, discusssions on how a deal would be structured are on-going and more is expected to surface over the next week to 10 days.
Mario Lemieux's involvement both as a player and team figurehead is considered crucial to any deal getting done. Essentially, if an arena deal can't be reached in Pittsburgh, then Lemieux would follow the franchise to wherever it relocates.
Many cities have been speculated as potential sites, including Las Vegas, Portland, Kansas City, and Sacramento.

nhl- Closer but no Deal

from Russ Conway and the Eagle Tribune, Look at the calendar.
Memorial Day is over. Taps sounded long ago on the 2005 Stanley Cup finals that never were. The Red Sox are about a third of the way into their season. And now ESPN-TV has told the National Hockey League to take a hike.
Think it's time yet to reach an agreement in the ongoing contract mess between pro hockey's team owners and players?
Mind you, they could still wait 'til the Fourth of July. That would be enough time for Commissioner Gary Bettman and players union boss Bob Goodenow to be strapped into a pair of skyrockets, like circus stuntmen, sending them out of a cannon into the wild blue yonder for the grand finale. Right where they belong, riding up and away attached to aerial bombs, far away from the pro sport that has melted because of greed and selfish motives.
Word out of meetings yesterday in Toronto is that they are inching closer to an agreement in principle on a new collective bargaining contract. One radio station reported a deal was imminent..
But take it from here. Based on the track records of these intelligent morons, there's no deal until both sides approve a ratification vote.
Listen to them tap-dance.
"Cautiously optimistic," is how one upper echelon management member, on the phone late yesterday, put the chances of a new deal being tentatively approved.
It will take another 15 days, cautioned another. Still another predicted 30 on...

nhl- Will Bob blow this Up

from The Maven and MSG Network, There’s a figurative “Molotov Cocktail” out there that could explode the NHL-NHLPA talks; that is, if it’s ever thrown.
Or, even if it even exists.
But there are folks inside the negotiations who fear that the traction achieved in negotiations through Thursday night could still be derailed.
“We still feel that Bob Goodenow could throw that ‘Cocktail’ and ruin things,” one of the primary negotiators tells me.
Goodenow, the union’s executive director, returned to the bargaining table on Thursday after he and Commissioner Gary Bettman had absented themselves from Wednesday’s lengthy discussions about league-team finances.
The focus on Goodenow’s role is magnified because of increasingly optimistic viewpoints that an NHL-NHLPA peace treaty not only is possible this year; it actually could be signed by the end of this month.
Or, July at the latest.
“We expect to have it wrapped up in the next few weeks,” an Eastern seaboard NHL team official predicted last night.
But predictions and signed-on-the-dotted-line CBAs are about the same as Cadillacs and crawfish.
And that’s where Goodenow comes in. Or, goes out, as the case may be.
At this point in time it’s debatable whether the players’ czar still is calling the on...

nhl- Everyone Hoping

from the CP via Sportsnet, Daniel Briere refuses to let himself get fooled again.
The Buffalo Sabres centre is hearing all the talk that the NHL and NHL Players' Association are making some progress and that maybe a deal will be reached by July. But he won't bite this time.
"I'm a little more cautious about all the positive talk that we're hearing in the last two weeks," Briere said Thursday. "We got burned a couple of times during the winter with this kind of talk, when we thought we had a deal but then got told it wasn't even close. I'm following it closely for sure, but I'm keeping an even keel."
Players, coaches and GMs alike were put through an emotional roller-coaster in mid-February. It appeared both sides were close to a deal only to see commissioner Gary Bettman cancel the season Feb. 16, then almost un-cancel it after an emergency last-ditch meeting brought Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux into the picture for one fleeting moment in Manhattan on Feb. 19. That, too, led to more false hope.
And while sources on both sides of the labour dispute say there is a chance the lockout could finally end in the next month or so, there are still many obstacles that could prevent that from happening.
That's why Briere isn't getting his hopes up.
"When they tell me everything is absolutely done and finalized and we're playing hockey, that's when I'll be excited," Briere said from Ottawa....more...

nhl- The Meeting

The meeting started early afternoon, plans call for it to be quite long . I will keep you posted throughout the evening if anything breaks.
Hopefully, we will get a press release from both sides sometime tonight.

nhl- Leaf Lunch Discussion

How does this one sound, Watters said rookie salary cap will be at $500,000 and any bonuses associated with it will count against the cap.

nhl- More Leaf's Lunch Talk

Russ Conway saying there are still issues to be resolved. Will not get finished today. He says get your best deal and send it for ratification.
Russ says the dispersal draft will become the Ultimate Hockey Fantasy Draft. Teams will be able to protect 3-5 players and teams will be able to pay up to $4 million for the player then the original club will have to pay the rest of the contract. Russ says time to invest in a moving truck company if this happens.
Conway mentioned the main points of the CBA are covered, but the percentage of league revenue at 54% is wishful thinking. He thinks teams like Boston are in trouble, will fans come back. Also said a team like Toronto may be the big loser in this CBA.

nhl- Leaf's Lunch Recap 2

Could things fall apart in the meeting today, Watters says this is a test of Goodenow's leadership. Bob has been attempting the last 48 hours to squelch this deal. If Bob does not get his way, he is done.
more coming, Russ Conway up next...

nhl- Leaf's Lunch Recap

Talking NHL dispersal draft with Bill Watters. Bill said there will be a five or six player protection list for teams that will be over the cap that has been established. Other teams will be able to bid on these players and if no team bites, the team will be able to buy them out and get it over with. The cap will be in effect as soon as the CBA is signed. Goodenow is not happy with this decision. Attempting to prevent this from happening.
Watters says these things have not been settled: doubling up on per diem during training camp, also paying for composite sticks. The floor of the CBA is 24m and hi is 37.5m and that has been settled on.
More to come....

nhl- Experimental camp Details

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, As collective bargaining negotiations between the National Hockey League and the players association creep along at a snail's pace, the league will test some of the more ambitious rule changes that they may implement once a new collective bargaining agreement is done and the lockout ends.
To that end, the league confirmed Thursday that it will hold a three-day research and development camp beginning next Monday at the Canlan Ice Sports Centre in Etobicoke.
The camp is designed to study the feasibility of a number of rule changes bandied about by NHL clubs. The scrimmage rosters will be made up of overage junior and Canadian university players, but the camp will be officiated by NHL referees and linesmen....more...

nhl- Not this Week

Anyone saying the CBA will be finalized this week needs to relax a bit. Some very important issues are still being worked on and as noted in a few articles today, some PA members are not happy with the direction of these negotiations.
Both sides want to get a deal done, but issues still have to be addressed. We all want the game back but I urge you to wait until the official word comes down, and it will not be this week.

nhl- Is a deal done or Not

from, Yesterday on Leafs Lunch Jeff and Dennis reported that a CBA was in the process of being completed. I heard the same from a few players who are on stand by to vote, either today or tomorrow. Plenty of other media have said that the LL report is false and they are getting "quotes" from PA and NHL people to that effect. What a shocker, denials. We always have denials from sports people on pending transactions, nobody wants to tip their hand. If a deal wasn't imminent then why did both sides for the first time ever, have lawyers in yesterdays meeting? Those lawyers will be back again today. I'm not talking about outside council being present, I'm talking about litigation lawyers, ie. the ones who would draw up the on...

nhl- NHLPA feeling Heat

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, There isn't even a new collective bargaining agreement in place and already sources say members of the NHLPA's executive committee are getting heat for what a new deal might contain.
A league source told the Sun last night that NHLPA president Trevor Linden and VPs Bill Guerin, Trent Klatt, Daniel Alfredsson, Vincent Damphousse, Arturs Irbe and Bob Boughner are getting calls from concerned players.
While there were reports in Toronto yesterday that the two sides are close to a deal and an announcement is "imminent," sources say talks are progressing, but it's going to be "two weeks to a month" before anything gets done.
"What you have right now is similar to the feeding frenzy that existed in February when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were called into New York. There's still a myriad of issues to be dealt with," said the source.
The sides held meetings in small groups yesterday, but will be back for a major negotiating session today with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow in on the talks.
So what's the cause for concern among the players?
Because there is talk circulating through union circles the players are about to accept a deal that will amount to a "total collapse" of the NHLPA's position -- including a salary cap with a link -- when the lockout started.
- Sources say not only have the players left the controversial 24% rollback on the table, they're also talking about a CBA that will include a salary cap with a 54% link to revenues, which will plummet because of the lockout.
- Though salary arbitration would likely remain the same, there's scuttlebutt the five-year deal the players are talking about with the league will also include a 24% rollback on qualifying offers for next season as well....a little more...

nhl- Stumbling blocks Possible

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, Although thee two sides in the National Hockey League lockout never have been so fragmented, the chances of getting a deal are better than ever.
But not right away.
On the players' side, there is a faction that would like to get a deal done, even if it means taking a heavy hit. These are the guys who have the game in their blood and are lost without it.
But there also are players who have enough foresight to realize that as long as Gary Bettman is at the helm of the NHL, the players never will be paid what they are worth. They feel their only chance is to stick to their stance long enough to force the owners to dump Bettman, who is determined to establish a system that caters to the whims of the underfunded teams. If Bettman gets his way, minimum payrolls will be institutionalized.
On the owners' side, there is a similar split. Some teams have seen a fortune in potential revenue drift away and, at the same time, are watching the values of their franchises drop steadily. They want to get their cash registers humming again, the sooner the on...

nhl- Still working at It

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), While an atmosphere of inevitability hovers over the ongoing negotiations between the NHL and the players union, that does not mean an announcement of an agreement to end the lockout is imminent — because it is not.
The Post has learned from sources on both sides that, while the framework reported exclusively by this paper on Sunday is indeed expected to form the basis of a new collective-bargaining agreement, myriad critical issues remain unresolved — including, but not limited to, the final structure of the salary cap; revenue sharing; application of systemic issues such as salary arbitration and players on Injured Reserve within a hard cap structure; team rights to players that have expired under the old CBA; and the disposition of 2004-05 contracts.
The Post reported that the deal will feature a salary-cap range, with a team floor established at a number believed approximately $24M and a ceiling between $36M and $38M, with qualifying offers and salary arbitration based on the union's Dec. 9 proposal rather on the league's subsequent, more restrictive, versions.
The CBA also would include a 24 percent rollback on all existing contracts and qualifying offers.
Though some players apparently have been led to believe that the tough negotiating has essentially been completed, that simply is not true. At the same time, there are league governors who have been told the process is further advanced than it is.
Full-scale negotiating is to resume today in Toronto, but there should be no expectation that the meeting will produce a lightning accord.
"We are definitely not that close on [numerous] issues," The Post was told by an individual familiar with the progress of the negotiations.
There are dissidents on both sides of the table, but the PA Executive Committee, which, The Post has learned, has been in consistent communication with club player representatives, has the support of a decisive majority of the rank-and-file.
At the same time, it is believed the most extreme members of the NHL negotiating committee would prefer a more restrictive CBA than the one on the table, but that they too are in the identifiable minority.
The league has established the middle part of the month as a target for completing the CBA in order to allow for the most orderly offseason relaunch.

nhl- Big Day Today

from Helene Elliott and the LA Times, A 10-hour meeting Wednesday between the NHL and the players' association set the stage for a potentially pivotal meeting today in Toronto, where negotiators will resume efforts to define hockey-related revenue and frame a deal linking payrolls to revenue. However, significant obstacles remain, primarily a split among players over whether to accept a deal that incorporates linkage or await a better deal.
Several sources familiar with the talks said some elements have been agreed upon, such as reducing the age to qualify for unrestricted free agency to 30, then 29 and then 28 for the last three years of the deal.
Also, entry-level contracts would be for four years instead of three and would carry a maximum signing bonus of $400,000 and cap bonus money at $850,000 per year.
Players have proposed accepting the 24% salary rollback they put forth in December, but only if last season's contracts are honored.
NHL officials say the 2004-05 season should be wiped off contracts. In addition, the NHL wants to limit payrolls to 54% of revenue with a $10-million range from top to bottom, but players want a larger range.
A source said that if enough progress is made today, talks will continue.
"We are heading in the right direction," the source said. "If they add a Friday meeting, they may add a Monday meeting. But this could still all blow up."
Commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow will join today's session. They did not participate Wednesday. Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, said he would not comment on the talks but said rumors of an imminent agreement were untrue.

nhl- Deal within Reach

from the Toronto Star, The NHL and its players' union made more progress on key accounting issues yesterday — fuelling further optimism that a new collective bargaining agreement is within reach.
The second of two bargaining sessions in Toronto gets underway today with the two sides waiting for smaller bargaining groups to hammer out a formula for revenue reporting among the league's 30 teams.
A binding revenue formula is the key to moving the talks toward final negotiations, but after nearly 48 hours of meetings spread over five days — including nearly 12 hours yesterday — has failed to produce that vital agreement.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow rejoin the talks today for full-blown negotiations. The NHLPA executive committee, chief legal counsels from the NHL and financial lawyers from both sides met yesterday in smaller groups.
The groups are apparently close to reaching settlement on the revenue issue and there was speculation in some quarters yesterday that they had in fact reached a settlement.
"Honestly, I haven't heard anything from our people (union) ... I don't know if people are playing it up, or if something is going on. ... If it is, great," said Leafs defenceman and player representative Bryan McCabe....more...

nhl- It could still blow Up

form the San Francisco Chronicle, The challenge of following the NHL lockout -- 260 days strong -- remains the same. It's all about trying to separate fact from fiction.
Fact is the owners and players' association met Wednesday for the 17th time since the season was canceled on Feb. 16. They are set to meet an 18th time today.
Fiction is a deal is at hand.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said it best recently, "If you're not in that room, you really don't know what is going on."
So it is left to speculate what is and isn't happening. Because of all the recent meetings, influential hockey people -- from ex-Canucks' GM Brian Burke to lead NHL legal council Bill Daly spouting his optimism -- consensus suggests a deal will get done sooner rather than later.
Stop right there.
That sentiment is coming from hockey people who miss the game dearly, people who can't check their emotions at the door. It's a passion that runs deep and drives the sport, but now it's misguided....continued...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

nhl- More on the CBA meeting Today

from Sportsnet, The NHL and NHL Players' Association held small-group discussions for nine hours Wednesday, again working on a review of revenue measurement and financial reporting issues.
The discussion will continue with a larger group Thursday as both sides try to find common ground on team-by-team revenues and how to associate them to a salary cap.
Both sides have agreed that a salary cap model with an upper and lower limit will be the centre piece of the collective bargaining agreement, but have laboured through the financial review in order to tie revenues to the moving cap figure.
While progress has been slow but steady, the two sides continue to plug away at it. Wednesday's meeting was the 17th session since the season was cancelled Feb. 16....more...

nhl- 10 Hour Meeting Today

via TSN, The NHL and NHL Players' Association resumed labour negotiations on Wednesday, going over league and team revenues in a 10-hour meeting.
Both sides will go back to the table for a larger meeting on Thursday, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow expected to be in attendence.
The sides gathered in Chicago for two days of talks last week after conducting a four-day session in New York the previous week.
The majority of the talks last week centred on breaking down league and team revenues. Both sides discussed the report issued by former U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt.
In February 2004, Levitt completed a 10-month study of NHL finances, which determined 19 of the league's 30 teams averaged $18 million in losses during the 2002-03 season while just 11 averaged $6.4 million in profits.

nhl- Morganti on ESPN Deal

Al Morganti was just on Team 590 radio in Toronto, thinks ESPN wants to come back and by pulling out of their contract, it is their way of telling Bob and Gary to get it together quickly.
Changes have to be made, NHL has always told ESPN to change the way they present the game rather than improving the game themselves. Forget the microphones on the bench, make the game better.
In case you are not aware of it, Morganti is not with ESPN anymore but is working for Comcast.

nhl- More work needs to be Done

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, With regard to a report from a Toronto radio station that agreement on a new CBA is imminent or effectively done or just requiring the dotting of Is or crossing of Ts, we present for your consideration reaction to that...from people who are actually part of the negotiations.

The first person could not be more succinct though it does require some editing. "Total horsebleep," is what one individual said of the report suggesting a deal is virtually done.
The second person was equally emphatic. "A deal is definitely not done and much work remains to be done. I don't know where this deal is done nonsense is coming from."
One of those quotes came from someone on the NHL side. One of them came from the NHLPA side. And who said the NHL and NHLPA can't agree on anything?
The truth is there is widespread expectation that a deal is going to be done, sooner rather than later. It's extremely doubtful that we should be anticipating that deal being done in a matter of hours. Could it be just days away? Perhaps. Could it be weeks? Perhaps. Could it still blow up? on...

nhl- Should the PA dump Goodenow

from The Maven and MSG Network, Has peace been declared in the NHL?
If you believe the buzz filtering down from NHL-NHLPA meetings in Toronto, a deal is done. But that’s just buzz; the first cousin to hot air.
Nothing official had been declared while the league and union number-crunchers met Wednesday afternoon.
And, as I’ve said all along, I’ll believe it when I see it.
“So will I,” Detroit Red Wings executive vice-president Jimmy Devellano tells me. “I’ve seen no indications that it’s finished.”
What’s more no deal will happen – by my personal equation – if union boss Bob Goodenow is still calling the shots.
The kicker – and conceivably the deal-maker – is that Goodenow may NOT be calling the shots anymore. But even that’s not 99 and 44/100ths percent sure either.
For weeks, there’s been talk that NHLPA executive committee members Mike Gartner, Trevor Linden, et. al. have usurped decision-making duties from their leader.
But one thing is certain as Commissioner Gary Bettman and Goodenow, prepared to meet on Thursday afternoon, following the morning funeral for veteran NHL linesman John D’Amico.
And that is, Goodenow no longer is viewed by critics as the millionaire-making genius who could force King Midas to blush in envy.
More to the point, it now is being suggested – as an owner-friendly agreement seems a virtual certainty -- that Goodenow is hardly that invincible at on...

nhl- Away we Go

from 640am in Toronto, Could a deal to end the NHL lockout already be done?
There are strong indications from several sources that today's meeting here in Toronto between the league and the players' association is just a formality.
640 Toronto hockey expert Dennis Beyak says several sources have indicated that for all intents and purposes a deal is done -- all that's left to do is the final paperwork.
He suggests both sides are going to be very cautious and they'll want to have their lawyers go through the agreement before this goes public.
Beyak doesn't expect a deal to be announced right away though.

nhl- Is it getting Close

As I mentioned last week, we would be reading and hearing numerous reports that the CBA is done, a problem has come about, Gretzky and Mario are on their way to New York, etc.
My suggestion for everyone is wait until we hear from the NHL and the NHLPA saying the CBA has been agreed upon.
Or you could read this and put me in the rest of the crowd: The CBA is close to being signed but you never know if something or someone will kill the deal.

I will keep you up-to-date on all of the Breaking News. But I have to laugh at this one. A blogger posted this last week but has pulled it from the blog because I just don't think it will work out.
I have been told the NHL will be holding the draft at the ESPN Sports Zone in NYC either on June 25th or 26th.
I don't think ESPN and the NHL are on very good terms these days,

nhl- Commisioner Giuliani

from the metronews, If the National Hockey League and its players’ union fail to reach an agreement on a new contract this summer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and a leading Canadian diplomat may help the game’s stars engineer a return to the ice.
The NHL lockout enters its ninth month today and both sides have said talks are progressing toward ending the stalemate. Yet in recent weeks, the players’ association, in concert with at least one prominent hockey agent, has considered a plan to start a rival league to the NHL.
Tentatively called the International Hockey Association, the league would rely on Giuliani’s New York consulting company to help raise as much as $5 billion (U.S.) in seed money for the upstart league, according to a 71-page business plan reviewed by the Toronto Star and circulated to prospective Wall Street investors including Goldman Sachs & Co. and Allen & Co.
"This is about bargaining power," said Gordon Saint Denis, a sports investment banker with CIT Group Inc. in New York. "It’s about the players saying, `We’ll show the league we have another option.’."
Giuliani might also act as an emissary to Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox television empire would potentially become an investor and broadcast games, a source said.
"Following the NHL’s decision to lock out the players and subsequently cancel the 2004-05 season, the NHLPA has been approached by several different groups proposing alternative options for our members," said Ted Saskin, senior director of the NHLPA.
"Most of these groups have made these proposals on a confidential basis and the NHLPA will not be commenting on them. Our primary focus has always been to reach an agreement with the NHL on a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement)."...more...

nhl- A deal for You

from the Toronto Sun, One of these mornings, we're going to wake up to a new collective bargaining agreement in the NHL.
Be skeptical about that statement, if you choose, and you will have plenty of company. Understandably so, given the fact that an entire season was lost because of ego-driven obstinance on both sides of the issue.
But let's just imagine, for a moment, that the scuttlebutt is true this time; that an agreement is coming within the next month and it's not going to be a pretty thing to behold if you're a player.
What then? Would you believe, mass chaos?
With, say, two months remaining before 2005 training camps are to open, NHL teams will have to solidify their local sponsorships, convince their alleged fans to buy season tickets, re-stock their rosters, conduct an amateur draft, figure out what kind of rule changes the new league will incorporate and, for many teams, how to put together a payroll about half the size they are used to.
A couple of months ago, the NHLPA was hoping for a salary cap of just under $50 million US per team. In reality, when the deal is done, it will be far less than that. Perhaps as low as $32-35 million.
There are 30 teams in the NHL, with 2004 payrolls ranging from $23.2 million (Nashville) to $77.8 million (Detroit).
Somehow, the teams like Detroit, the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars and, yes, the Maple Leafs, will have to cut their payrolls about in half or pay what is expected to be a dollar-for-dollar penalty. That is, if you're $5 million over the cap, then you'll pay a tax of $5 million. In light of that, it is conceivable that you will not be able to recognize much that is familiar when the smoke has cleared at the Air Canada on...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

nhl- NHL refused to negotiate with ESPN

from the LA Times, The NHL was left without a cable TV carrier Tuesday when ESPN, which last week declined to exercise a $60-million option for next season, said the league had refused to renew at a lower price or pattern a new deal after its revenue-sharing agreement with NBC Universal.
"Right now we're done negotiating," Mark Shapiro, executive vice president of ESPN, told reporters on a conference call. "We do not anticipate carrying the NHL next season.
"We're not playing games here. We wanted to do a deal and get something done.... A no rights-fee deal is the only model that should exist for any partner of the NHL. Who's to know what damage has been done?"
Should the NHL and the players' assn. soon agree on a labor deal and end the lockout that canceled this season, Shapiro said the rights fee would be worth "well below $60 million. Half that."
ESPN told the NHL last week it would not exercise its option but appeared to leave open a possibility it might continue at a lower cost. Shapiro said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was "uncomfortable cutting the price tag on the rights fee below $60 million."
The NHL said the fee was fair.
"When the now-expired contract was negotiated, the $60-million option price took a work stoppage — potentially a long-term work stoppage — into consideration," Frank Brown, the NHL's vice president for media relations, said. The NHL first appeared on ESPN in 1979, the network's debut year. ESPN acquired the national NHL TV rights in 1984, lost them, and regained them in 1992....more...

nhl- Labor Battle

MONTREAL (CP) - A new skirmish between the National Hockey League and striking players is taking place at Quebec's labour relations board over attempts by players to secure union certification.
During a meeting that lasted more than four hours on Tuesday, the NHL disputed the commission's jurisdiction to decide the case because it claims labour relations between the NHL and the players' association is regulated by American labour laws.
Recognizing a union only in Quebec for Montreal Canadiens players would effectively create unique conditions for some players and destroy the proper functioning of the league, officials argued.
The NHL said players with the Habs are salaried workers according to Quebec labour code. It also claimed the league is the players' employer, not the Montreal hockey club.
League lawyer Roy Heenan said the players' association has implicitly accepted this fact for 40 years.
But Gaston Nadeau, lawyer for the players' association, said the Canadiens pay the salaries and sign the contracts with players.
Players Saku Koivu and Craig Rivet made that point with reporters.
"Our employer is the Montreal Canadiens, we are paid by the Montreal Canadiens" and not by the National Hockey League, they said.
The labour board hearings will resume over several days in June and July.
Players with the Vancouver Canucks are also seeking union accreditation in British Columbia.
Quebec and B.C. are reputed to have the most favourable labour laws for workers.
In Quebec, for example, laws prevent the use of replacement workers during a labour conflict.

nhl- Let the Lawsuits Begin

from Bob McKenzie & TSN, If it weren't for the NHL lockout, midnight on Tuesday evening would have been the deadline for the Philadelphia Flyers to sign their terrific prospects Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to NHL contracts or the Flyers would risk losing them when they re-enter the 2005 NHL entry draft.
But as we all know, the lockout means teams cannot sign players and there is no 2005 draft, at least not yet, for anyone to enter, let alone re-enter.
But the first official salvo has been fired in a potential legal challenge to the status of Carter and Richards, along with all the other unsigned draftees from the 2003 draft.
The International Management Group, which represents a bevy of NHL stars including top draft prospect Sidney Crosby but, ironically, not Carter or Richards, is asserting that any unsigned NHL draftee from 2003 who wasn't signed by the June 1st deadline is a free agent....more...

nhl- ESPN

In a call with members of the media today, ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production Mark Shapiro said that ESPN will not pick up a $60M option to renew its television deal with the NHL. Shapiro: “Looking at the future today, we envision next year coming and going without any NHL product.” Shapiro said if the NHL “were to announce tomorrow [that the league] is back, we’re not there for $60[M].” Shapiro added that only with rule changes would the league be able to attract a broadcast partner.

nhl- Looking ahead to the meetings this Week

from the Canadian Press via Slam, It's still a fragile environment but there's a sense the NHL lockout could finally be entering the stretch run and perhaps even end by Canada Day.
But there are all kinds of factors that could blow away that optimistic outlook, first and foremost the possibility that one side may try to go for the kill if it senses vulnerability from the other. That would end any chances of resolving the lockout this summer.
In the meantime, the NHL and NHL Players' Association continue to meet regularly, this week at a secret location in Toronto starting with Wednesday's meeting. They've met 16 times since the season was cancelled Feb. 16.
A smaller group will meet Wednesday and once again break down financial data in a bid to find common ground on what constitutes revenues. Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow will then re-enter the picture Thursday along with the key players on both sides as a larger group sits down for a full-blown bargaining session....continued...

nhl- ESPN Release

This was made available to some of the media this morning. Sounds like two different mesages to me.

ESPN has decided not to exercise its $60 million option to telecast National Hockey League games, regardless of whether professional hockey returns after a lockout scrapped the entire 2004-05 campaign.
ESPN hasn’t closed the door on pro hockey altogether, reporting in its statement that it “remain[s] interested in a multimedia agreement that provides us with appropriate value.”
In a statement released this morning, ESPN said that while it “would like to continue its long-term relationship with the NHL,” it was not interested in carrying games even if a new collective bargaining agreement can be hashed out.
The league had already been operating from a position of weakness before the cancellation of last season, as the network opted to shuffle its slate of NHL games over to ESPN2.
ESPN executive vp, programming and production Mark Shapiro is expected to offer further comment on the decision later today.

nhl- Stuff from Stan

from The Maven and MSG Network, An amazing number of optimistic stories are popping up about a CBA deal emerging in a matter of weeks, if not sooner.
Our theory still holds: That as long as Bob Goodenow continues to call the shots, there’ll not be a deal. But, more and more we hear that others – Mike Gartner, Trevor Linden, Bill Guerin, et. al. – have become THE decision-makers rather than the union boss.
Despite the spate of optimism, a couple of forces could scuttle any deal: 1. Goodenow – as one league biggie says – “could throw a Molotov Cocktail at the last minute.” 2. Key issues, such as Arbitration and the Union’s right to certify agents, have yet to be fully negotiated.
Our advice: Don’t get carried away! PLEASE! Those in the know, continue to tell us MUCH still must be a lot more...

nhl- Get rid of Gary & Bob

A deal will be struck soon, then get rid of Bettman and Goodenow.
from the Toronto Sun, There will be NHL hockey in the fall. The end game has in fact started between the NHL and the players' association.
When league vice-president Bill Daly told reporters he saw a negotiated settlement coming soon, he started the countdown to a deal that should be wrapped up in the next month.
There is, in fact, little left for the players but to try to save face.
Adamant since the beginning that ownership was cooking the books, the PA and the league have been working on a joint review. It's the kind of rudimentary work that should have been done a year ago and it will reveal what every party but the NHLPA has long accepted -- that a few wealthy clubs, including the Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers -- make good money. Another handful come close.
Two-thirds of the league, meanwhile, is in the red.
The union, having been denied $1 billion US in salaries, is badly fractured. A splinter group that includes Chris Pronger, Jeremy Roenick and others nearly swung an end-run around PA head Bob Goodenow before the season was cancelled.
Throughout the process, players, hundreds of them, have been in contact with the league and with their individual teams. The message flowing from north to south: "Enough already, make a deal!"
Ownership hasn't broken the players' union. For one thing, hockey players are too honourable to sell each other out. For another, the laws of the land, specifically those regarding the use of replacement workers, make destroying a union on...

Monday, May 30, 2005

nhl- NHLPA may be moving too Fast

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, The CBA talks resume Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto amid a growing sense of inevitability that both sides are inching towards an agreement that should, or could, come before the end of June.
But it's too soon for unbridled optimism as there are factions within the NHL Players' association who are clearly not on the same page.
One faction is what we'll call the pro-deal players. They want to get a deal done and get that deal done as soon as possible. This faction is said to be led by Trevor Linden, Mike Gartner, Brendan Shanahan and Bill Guerin, amongst others.
The other faction is what we'll call the anti-deal players. They believe things are moving way too far way too fast, that the pro-deal players are effectively rolling over and playing dead for the NHL on every critical issue and that the NHL isn't making enough concessions....continued...

nhl- Preds on thin Ice

from the Nashville Scene, It's March 29, 2005, and Craig Leipold is angry. The famously approachable owner of Nashville's professional ice hockey franchise, the Predators, is on the radio, and he's defending his organization's financial viability against a pair of articles published in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper. Those articles—one titled "Several Clubs on Verge of Penury," the other "Predators, Panthers Could Feel the Pinch"—were published in a city considered to be the Mecca of hockey. But it's their potential impact 800 miles farther south that has Leipold doing damage control on a local sports talk show, 104.5 FM's afternoon "Sports Zone."

Read on, quite a long and interesting story.
Tip of the hat to Tom Benjamin and the Predator's Den for the story.

nhl- Moving Closer

We have read a bit from Lyle Richardson, AKA Spector, earlier in the day, now this from Foxsports. The New York Post reported on Sunday that a settlement may be getting closer in the ongoing labor dispute between the NHL and the NHLPA.
This may not come as earth-shattering news to hockey fans weary of the NHL lockout. Press releases from both sides and media reports over the past several weeks have reported unspecified progress but little else.
The Post story, however, differed in that it laid out how certain issues may be addressed in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement.
According to the paper, a salary cap range, determined by league revenues, could start from a "floor" of $24 - $28 million and a ceiling of $34 - $38 million.
That would mean those cap ranges may fluctuate depending on revenues from year to year.
The report also suggested the PA's December 9th rollback proposal would be included, as well as the lowering of the qualification age for unrestricted free agency to 30 for starters and then possibly dropping to 28 or 29 over the life of the agreement.
In addition, there could be minor adjustments to salary arbitration, based upon a more "player-protective" union proposal than those previously proposed by the league. Qualifying offers for restricted free agents could run from 100 percent to players earning over $1 million per season to up to 110 percent for those earning under $1 on...

nhl- Ex-NHL "Star" Banned

Who writes these headlines! About two hours ago, this story broke in North America with the same headline but the "Star" was not included in the headline, and rightfully so.
(Reuters) - Former National Hockey League (NHL) player Andrei Nazarov has received a one-year ban for assaulting a referee after a playoff game in Russia.
The Russian Professional Hockey League (PHL) said they had suspended the Avangard Omsk forward after he attacked the referee in a restaurant following his team's loss to Dynamo Moscow in a championship semi-final last month.
The 31-year-old left winger accumulated almost 1,500 penalty minutes in 569 regular-season games playing for six NHL teams - San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.
Nazarov, Sharks' first-round draft pick in 1992, spent 179 minutes in the penalty box in 39 games for Avangard last season.
"Nazarov will not be allowed to play any professional hockey in Russia next season even if the NHL is still shut down," PHL vice-president Vladimir Shalayev told Sovietsky Sport newspaper.
"If he wants to play hockey in Russia he will have to sign for a local water-pump team."
Nazarov joined Avangard last year after spending 11 seasons in the NHL.

But the story now is making its way around the world with the word "Star" in the headline. Heck, 99% of hockey fans know Nazarov was never a star, not even a Dallas Star, but people who read this headline will be mislead and a little more damage is done to the NHL.

nhl- The Experiment Begins

I brought this up last week that the NHL will be "testing" some rule and equipment changes. What do you think, will the NHL ever get it right?

TORONTO (CP) - There are going to be some strange goings on at a small rink near the airport here next week, and the NHL is inviting its general managers and coaches to take it all in.
Goalies will be trying to stop pucks while wearing equipment smaller than they usually wear, and they'll be standing at times in front of over-sized nets. Long passes that would normally be offside will be allowed in some of the drills.
The league is calling it a research and development camp, and it has recruited overage juniors who are free agents plus a handful of college skaters for tests and scrimmages over three days.
The camp begins Monday, which as coincidence would have it is the first anniversary of the last NHL game, Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over Calgary in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
There has been plenty of talk during the lockout, which wiped out the entire 2004-2005 season, about opening up the game to more offence whenever play resumes under a new collective bargaining agreement, and now it's time to test on ice the various suggestions.
"We'll be focusing on rules changes that have been brought forth over the last year and a half," says Colin Campbell, the league's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations. "We understand certain changes have to be made but we don't want knee-jerk solutions.
"We don't think the game is as bad on the ice as some people make it out to be. That's a side effect of our problems off the ice. But we do understand some changes have to be made."

nhl- How will it Look

A couple of good reads on how the proposed CBA will look and what teams may do to find loopholes. Even though the face of the NHL is changing, it doesn't mean all things will be equal.
Check out what Lyle Richardson has to say and get Tom Benjamin's point of view.

While other bloggers are screaming conspiracy theory and crying I want my game back, both Lyle and Tom have spelled out what the future of the NHL may just look like.

nhl- Hockey in Trouble

via Slam, Ambivalence toward the NHL should be expected from those south of the border.
However, it should be cause for alarm to the owners and players when that's the prevailing feeling in the Great White North.
As of yesterday evening, more than half the respondents to a Slam Sports poll said they don't care anymore if the NHL and the NHLPA agree to a new collective bargaining agreement this summer.
Only one-third said they believe the childish fight over billions will come to a conclusion in the next couple of months.
The players may believe the news ESPN won't pick up the option is a ploy either by the network or the league but stats like that should provide a real wake-up call.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

nhl- Let's talk Goalies

from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Colin Campbell heard the Michelin Man rhetoric the moment the NHL made him disciplinary czar in 1998. The man charged with policing the sport's rule breakers and benders listened as critics of this dead-puck era built a wailing wall in the crease with complaints about bloated goaltending equipment.
For every inch of padding Campbell and his lieutenants trimmed from a section of their garb, goalies would add another to an unregulated piece that turned inspections into a shell game of triple-dog dare.
"They were so intent on getting larger that we couldn't stop them," Campbell recalled.
The tail is done wagging the dog.
With goal scoring at a 50-year low and its product devastated by a raging labor dispute, the NHL is charging forward with sweeping reforms to equipment worn by the 60 goalies who compose 9 percent of all active players.
Almost every piece of their equipment is being shrunk to give puck carriers about 13 percent more net at which to shoot. It is the most visible on a laundry list of post-lockout changes intended to revive a game suffocated by the toxic mix of a shrinking ice surface, expanding goalies, clutching defenders and trapping coaches.
With the political winds blowing against their masks, goaltenders and their advocates with the players association have given up fighting for the status quo. Instead, they'll fight for safety and fair enforcement of a new world order.
About a dozen goalies will gather in Toronto this week to test prototypes from eight manufacturers scrambling to tailor their clients' gear to the NHL's specifications before mass marketing the new equipment. It is a massive and expensive undertaking that could delay implementation until the middle of an assumed 2005-06 season, league and company officials on...

nhl- The New Jersey "Pick a Name"

from Newsday, What chance do the New Jersey Devils give a proposal that would rename the pro hockey franchise as something a little less demonic?
Think hell freezing over.
"I can assure you the Devils name will never change, and I think there are more important things to be thinking about than something that will never happen," team CEO Lou Lamoriello said. "It's who we are and what we want to be."
The devil imagery is precisely the problem for Assemblyman Craig Stanley, who takes issue with a satanic symbol representing the state's National Hockey League team.
The Essex County Democrat is leading the charge to retire the name 'Devils' after 23 years and three Stanley Cup championships and replace it with a name chosen in a statewide competition.
"This is an age where symbolism is very important," said Stanley, whose resolution to rename the team is to be introduced in the Assembly next month. "With the team coming to a new city, Newark, I thought it was a good time to do it." ...more...

nhl- Bob Failing Players?

from the Montreal Gazette, If I was a National Hockey League player, I'd have a few questions running through my mind while sitting on the deck at my fancy summer cottage over the next few weeks wondering what the future might hold.
Most of those questions would be directed at players' association executive director Bob Goodenow, including whether he ever had a Plan B?''
Two more days of labour talks wrapped up Thursday in Chicago, with the NHLPA saying there is still a lot of work ahead before the NHL resumes play after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman locked out players Sept. 15. Yet if Goodenow had a Plan B before this mess began, his players would be on the ice right now in the heat of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
From Day 1 of the NHL lockout, Goodenow insisted the NHLPA would never accept a salary cap. Plan A seemed to be to wait until the owners cave in, and then the players can start counting their millions again.
There was good reason to have that strategy, since NHL owners had traditionally caved in to players' demands in the past. But no matter how fool-proof a Plan A might seem, you should always have a Plan B, no matter what business you're in. With a Plan B, the NHLPA might not have lost an entire season of wages for its members, with the possibility of a second lost season still up in the air....continued...