Breaking Sports

Saturday, June 11, 2005

nhl- A Different NHL Coming

from the Tampa Tribune, I'm assuming there will be an NHL draft this summer and Sidney Crosby will be the new face of the NHL. I'm assuming there will be some sort of fan- friendly preseason event to win back the masses. I'm assuming training camps will open on time - with the regular players.
I'm assuming both sides will apologize profusely at the news conference to announce the new deal. I'm assuming that either Bob Goodenow or Gary Bettman - or possibly both - will be looking for new jobs by next spring.
And I'm assuming this will all be done - soon.
Once it is all completed, I'm assuming we'll see a different NHL than the one we saw at the end of last year.
A shootout is almost a certainty to decide tie games. The tag-up offsides and goal lines closer to the end boards will be implemented. And goaltenders will be wearing equipment that is a little smaller than has been allowed in the past.
The league will attempt to reinvent itself with a new marketing campaign that will focus on the players. A new logo is expected to include the Stanley Cup, the league's best marketing tool. New sleeker looking uniforms also have been discussed at length....more...

NHL Europe likely to continue

Hey headline writer, wake up!!!
Or maybe a new league is being planned.
At the time of this post, the above headline was for this article. Maybe when you read it, a correction might have taken place.

nhl- Conflicting Cap

from Spector and Fox Sports, As another week of negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA drew to a close, there was confusion in the media over a report of an apparent agreement between the two sides regarding a salary cap formula in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
At this point it would take one of the main negotiators from both sides — Daly and NHLPA Senior Director Ted Saskin, or Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow — to cut through the conflicting reports and confirm or deny Shoats' settlement story.
That's not likely to happen. Whoever leaked the story of a potential cap settlement to Shoalts may have done so with an agenda in mind, but it's anyone's guess at this point what that may be.
Perhaps it was done to pressure one side into making more concessions, or maybe it was done because the sources may have felt there wasn't enough information being passed around by their respective side.
It might also be a plant, a bit of misdirection from one side or the other to keep the press off guard and ensure the true details of the potential agreement remain under wraps until it's been signed and ratified.
Perhaps this was a ploy by Goodenow to undermine negotiations, as some conspiracy theorists have darkly hinted, although that seems unlikely.
Or perhaps this story is legit, with excitement overcoming discretion for Shoalts sources and catching both sides the whole article...

blog- Breaking Sports Statistics

Stats for the month of May.

Location of visitor
USA 49%
Canada 35%
Unknown 5%
11% are visiitors from these locations: United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Russian Federation, Netherlands, Iceland, Chile, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Singapore, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Italy, India, Ghana, Burundi, Qatar, Ukrain, Latvia, Portugal, Ireland, South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Iraq, Germany and US Military (could be anywhere in the world).

IE 66%
Firefox 31%
Other 3%

Visitors----- Page Views
77,714 ------220,009

nhl- A New Career

Yesterday, Chris Chelios and Jack O'Callahan sang ''Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch of the Red Sox/Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
Wonder if Chris is preparing for a new career.
When asked how the CBA negotiations were going, he responded "they are talking".

nhl- Big TV deal a pipe Dream

from the Buffalo News, National Hockey League owners better accept the fact that their sport is never going to provide them with big national television bucks. Now more than ever.
I first wrote the above statement in June 1992, but it is as valid today as it was 13 years ago. The 1992 column explained the main problem succinctly:
"Hockey is a regional sport with limited television appeal because it is difficult to see the puck and because it is difficult to see players before they join the league. Rookies in the National Football League and the NBA often get three or four years of television exposure during their college days. Most Americans hadn't heard of Mario Lemieux, Pierre Turgeon or Eric Lindros until a few months before the NHL draft."
You can change the names and the assessment would be pretty much the same today, and there is no reason to believe it will change in our lifetime. Living so close to Canada, Western New Yorkers tend to have an inflated view of how important hockey is to the rest of the nation.
It isn't quite as inflated as the rosy view of Larry Quinn, the Buffalo Sabres managing partner, who believes the NHL can eventually get a rights fee of $400 million a year.
The chances of that happening are about equal to the chances that the Sabres and the Bills will win a Stanley Cup and a Super Bowl in the same year. The proposed addition of a shootout to decide tie games will make for exciting TV - for about five or 10 minutes.
Quinn made that statement while discussing the Sabres' lack of concern over ESPN's decision to drop its option to carry NHL games next season for $60 million a year. That figure was half of the $120 million that ESPN and its bigger brother, ABC, had paid in the previous deal. ESPN apparently is willing to pay $30 million....continued...

nhl- Nashville should worry about Future

from the daily News Journal, Say this for the Nashville Predators: They show no fear.
When NHL owners enacted their lockout last September, Predators' management said the move was in the best interest of the franchise's long-term stability. If recent reports on the state of negotiations have been correct, that belief will prove to have been right on the mark.
When that same staff has been asked about how it will overcome ill will among the fan base created by that lockout, it has said simply that it will start from the beginning and introduce the sport to Middle Tennessee as if it never had been here. After all, they say, the first few seasons drew the most fans so they must have done something right.
The truth is that franchise officials ought to be frightened about what happens once the lockout ends because — for a number of reasons — there is no way for them to repeat the past.
First of all, before the first puck was dropped in 1998 there was a season-ticket sales campaign and a marketing blitz that lasted roughly a year and a half.
Provided the lockout does get settled some time in the next few weeks (it seems that it will) the 2005-06 season will open roughly four months from right now. Thus far no one has mailed any ticket brochures or crafted any marketing slogan for the season. By the time they get around to doing so there is a good chance most will be focused on football season and not interested in much else.
Next, once the time comes who is going to sell the tickets and sponsorships and do all the other work that needs to be done? on...

nhl- What is being Discussed

from the Toronto Star, As the two sides continue to close in on a deal, one issue that remains in collective bargaining talks between the NHL and NHL Players' Association is what will be done about 2004-05 contracts.
Until recently, it has been assumed that those deals would simply go by the wayside, but there are indications the NHLPA will try to have them honoured as a transitional rule in a new collective bargaining agreement.
Whether or not they're successful remains to be seen and a number of observers are doubtful that will happen. But the NHLPA does have a precedent of sorts in Alexei Yashin, who held out in 1999-2000 and was forced to make up that year on his contract.
With the two sides taking a break for the weekend before reconvening Monday in Toronto, there have been varying reports on what has been agreed to, but it is certain that the two sides continue to make progress.
"We spent the last four days in small group meetings continuing to review and negotiate various systemic and economic issues," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said in a statement.
"There was healthy dialogue and progress continued to be made on many operational issues relating to a new collective bargaining agreement," NHL senior vice-president and chief legal officer Bill Daly said.
One report suggested the two sides had agreed on the framework of a salary cap based on team-by-team revenues. That has since been denied by a number of sources in hockey and one general manager said yesterday that the scheme would be unwieldy and impossible to implement.
"It doesn't work and it would never work in our sport or any other sport," the GM said. "I don't see it happening. It's not something that the league has ever brought up."...more...

Friday, June 10, 2005

nhl- Moving Slowly

from The Maven and MSG Network, Like the three-toed sloth, NHL and NHL Players’ Association negotiators move forward.
The only problem is that nobody can tell that there REALLY is movement.
After another week of intense meetings – some small, some full-size – both sides in the Civil War at least agree on one thing; they are still talking.
Sometimes, they even talk the same language.
At the end of Friday’s session, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly went so far as to describe the interplay as “healthy dialogue.”
That includes Vitamins A (Advancing) D (Developing) and E (Envervating.)
“Progress continued to be made on many operational issues relating to a new collective bargaining agreement,” adds Daly.
And to show that he wasn’t kidding, Daly states that meetings will resume “early next week.”
Meanwhile, there has been a disturbing – make that VERY disturbing – media tendency to presume that the CBA only needs some gift wrapping and a neat ribbon; each of which should be available in the next couple of weeks.
My informants – who never have been wrong so far – continually reaffirm that considerable work must be done and, like it or not, the work moves with sloth speed.
“There’s still plenty to do,” one of the insiders tells me. “because, in effect, what we’re doing is – in a hockey, legal sense – re-inventing the system.
“Drafting these documents takes time.”
Ah, but how much time?
My absolute, latest target date for completion is July 15, if advertisers, broadcasters and schedule-makers are to be satisfied. Not to mention the fans.
Is July 15 possible?
“We can always hope,” my insider allows. “It’s possible….”
Then, a cautious pause: “Then again, it may not be!” on...

nhl- NHL Statement

NEW YORK (June 10, 2005) -- Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today completed four days of collective bargaining negotiations that totalled approximately 26 hours in duration. After today's session, the following statement was released by Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer:
"There was healthy dialogue, and progress continued to be made on many operational issues relating to a new collective bargaining agreement. We will resume meeting early next week."

nhl- NHLPA Statement

NEW YORK (June 10, 2005): At the conclusion of Friday’s meeting in New York, National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“We spent the last four days in small group meetings continuing to review and negotiate various systemic and economic issues. The two sides will resume small group discussions on Monday in Toronto.”

nba- Sound Familar?

NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik told members of the NBA’s Competition Committee “to prepare for a lockout,” according to four league sources, including two GMs, reports Chad Ford of One source said, “There’s going to be a lockout. I don’t think there’s any way we get a deal done any time soon. ... Players don’t really believe a lockout will hurt them in the summer. It won’t be until there’s a threat of losing that first paycheck that they’ll get serious about negotiating again.” A source with the NBPA said, “I think NBA Commissioner David Stern has always wanted to lock us out. ... They act like they don’t have anything to lose, but I think they do. The summer league, free agency, NBA players’ playing in the qualifying tournament for the World Championships.” An agent added, “I think both sides will take the month of July off. I think we’ll head back to the table in August and have something hammered out by September”.

nhl- BOG Meeting

I just caught bits of the opening segment of Leafs Lunch and I believe they said the BOG will be meeting next week to discuss how they will handle revenue sharing. Questions will arise such as how long will the stronger teams support the weaker ones and what formula to use for the sharing.

nhl- Penguins sale nearly Finished

from Pittsburgh Business Times, An agreement is near to sell the Pittsburgh Penguins to a group of West Coast investors who plan to keep the NHL team in town, according to various reports.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed in the published reports, but the West Coast group is reportedly led by William "Boots" Del Biaggio, a San Jose, Calif. businessman.
Mr. Del Biaggio is said to be a friend of Penguins owner and star player Mario Lemieux and one of his co-owners with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. He also holds a minority interest in NHL's San Jose Sharks.
Mr. Lemieux, the hockey team's primary owner since it emerged from bankruptcy in 1999, will hold onto a reduced share of the franchise, according to the reports....more...

nhl- Buffalo Partner wants $400m TV Contract

from the Buffalo News, "We should be looking at a national TV contract of $400 million, not $60 million."
ESPN announced last week it was no longer interested in doing business with the moribund NHL, and $60 million in potential revenues disappeared.
The prominent cable company's evacuation seemed a grim blow for the league, a development that should send chills especially through the front offices of smaller-market franchises scratching to eke out an existence.
Instead of a shudder, the Buffalo Sabres shrugged.
The Sabres, financially strapped for years before the lockout, stand to lose their $2 million share unless another network steps in to accept ESPN's role.
But Sabres executives are unanimous in their assertion the NHL will be worth so much more once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place and modifications are made to make the game more alluring.
"If we're worried about a $60 million contract, then where's our business going?" Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said at the NHL's Research and Development Camp in Etobicoke, Ont., where some radical on-ice rule changes are being tested. "ESPN (pulling out of negotiations) didn't register with me at all. I'm not worried about it.
"Sixty-million bucks was $2 million a team. If we're worried about $2 million a team, we're looking at it completely the wrong way. I think we should be looking at a national TV contract of $400 million, not $60 million. I think we can get there. I really do."...more...

nhl- Will the rule changes Stick

from the Toronto Star, "I'm telling you it is going to stick. Players are going to have to make adjustments, they will make them and the game will be better", NHL referee Don Koharski on the league's obstruction crackdown in 2002.
When the NHL finally gets back to playing hockey in the fall, it will valiantly try to succeed where it has failed spectacularly many times before.
At the league's research and development camp this week, there was a renewed sense of commitment and optimism that the league will stamp out obstruction once and for all.
But all of the stakeholders who bothered to show up acknowledged that the league can try to enforce the rulebook ad nauseam, but real change will only come when the GMs and coaches, those who have been most critical of the crackdowns in the past, are truly on board in both actions and, more importantly, words.
"I've been around long enough to know that it's not as easy as it appears to be and it's not something we should underestimate in any sense of the word," said Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier.
"There are human nature elements that, to this point, we haven't been able to overcome."
But for a league that will undoubtedly be looking to get back into the consciousness of sports fans and regain its credibility after the lockout, there is no choice, according to Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe.
"Because of what happened a few years ago, for the same thing to happen, for us to implement it then back off, would be political suicide," Lowe said....continued...

nhl- CBA Talks

Both sides will meet again today and probably issue an update on the status of the talks with some vague statement after the meeting.
I feel the lack of official reports from both sides has lead to the media reporting whatever they can get their hands on. They are more like detectives than sports writers. But then again, if they did keep us abreast of what is really happening, then a few key media scribes would have nothing to do, their job as the NHL or PA "source" or some would say "sounding board", would not be needed.

nhl- Rookies to take a Hit

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Arguments rage about what will eventually make up the next collective agreement between the National Hockey League's owners and players but both sides agree on one thing -- rookies are about to take a stinging hit on salaries.
Unlike Ilya Kovalchuk, who earned an estimated $14-million (all figures U.S.) over his three-year entry-level contract, emerging stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin may have to settle for something like $4.8-million, which would be spread over four years if the demands of the NHL owners are on...

nhl- No Team Cap

via the Toronto Sun, Gary Bettman told an NHL general manager yesterday that no team-by-team salary cap, based on individual club revenues, will be part of league's eventual collective bargaining agreement with its players.
The NHL commissioner was put on the spot after several news agencies reported that a team-by-team cap had been agreed upon as the lockout negotiations continue and grow more optimistic by the day.
"I asked him quite clearly 'Is this, in fact, true?" one general manager said of newspaper reports across Canada.
"He said: 'No.'
"I asked 'Is there any kind of team-by-team cap?' Again, he said 'No.' "
While it's clear the framework for a deal between the beleaguered league and its locked out players is growing closer -- with the players accepting a salary cap and a 54% linkage to team-by -team revenues -- it's important to determine what hasn't be agreed upon. Among the issues:
- Luxury Tax: Recent reports indicate a team tax would kick in for revenue sharing once a team surpasses $29 million US in payroll. Numerous sources indicate this has not been agreed to. "We have not budgeted for a luxury tax of any kind," a general manager said yesterday.
- Free agency: The age of free-agent players has not been agreed to. "We have a list of free agents if the system doesn't change," one general manager said. "We have another list if it comes down a year, another list if it changes one year younger than that."
- Revenue Sharing: While the NHL has agreed, in principle, to share revenues, the mechanisms for doing so have not been put in place.
- Contract buyouts: The formula for buying out a players' contract has not been agreed to. This could be significant because of salary caps estimated to begin at $22 million with a ceiling of $36 million.
- NHL contracts: There is a difference of opinion over whether the 2004-05 player contracts should be honoured. The players say yes, the owners say no.

nhl- Working out the final Numbers

via the Star Tribune, Dwayne Roloson can see light approaching. Thursday night he was talking about the light at the end of the tunnel, but he could have been talking about lights in hockey arenas all around North America. Lights that have been turned off for an entire season.
Roloson is the NHL Player's Association player representative for the Wild. And recent news regarding negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players have him all but certain the season will start on time.
Word leaked out over the past two days that the NHLPA had agreed on the idea of a salary cap, the most contentious point in months of contentious bargaining.
"Now it's just a matter of trying to work out the final numbers," Roloson said. "Finding out the higher end and the lower end. ... I always felt the season would start on time. Now it seems inevitable. You look at the work that has been done over the last month, month and a half. It's been like a snowball effect. Now the momentum is there, for sure. Momentum to carry over that should get a deal done."
The idea of a salary cap -- referred to by the owners as cost certainty -- was the reason the 2004-05 season was lost, making the NHL the first of the four major sports leagues to lose an entire season. But Roloson said he doesn't believe either side can claim to be the winner here.
"To be honest, when you have to take a year off, nobody is a winner," Roloson said.
For now, Roloson said, it is a waiting game. He has to wait for word that the entire CBA agreement has been hammered out. Once that's done the players will be able to vote on that agreement. But, like Roloson said, the snowball is rolling, the momentum is there.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

nba- Heads Up

  • The NBA Finals open tonight with Game One of the Pistons-Spurs at San Antonio, to be broadcast live by ABC at 9:00pm ET. Al Michaels and Hubie Brown will call the series. Stuart Scott and Michele Tafoya will work the game as sideline reporters. Coverage will begin at 8:30pm ET with “Chevrolet NBA Game Time,” which will be hosted by Mike Tirico, NBA HOFer Bill Walton and Ahmad Rashad. Steve “Snapper” Jones will not co-host, as he is recovering from an appendectomy.
  • The Detroit Free Press notes that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson will appear on the pre-game show, but his girlfriend, Lakers Exec VP Jeanie Buss, said that the interview will not reveal Jackson’s future plans. The L.A. Times notes that the interview was arranged by Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, the brother of ABC broadcaster Brent Musburger.
  • The San Antonio Express -News notes that there will be about 1,000 media representatives in San Antonio to cover tonight’s Game One, including “about 150 journalists from other countries.” NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Brian McIntyre said the league will have about 250 staff members “helping with the games” in San Antonio.
  • The Finals will be aired in 205 countries and territories, via 106 telecasters in 45 different languages. Live commentary will be streamed over in up to 15 languages. America TV of Argentina, which broadcast its first-ever NBA game earlier this season when it covered Argentinian Spurs G Manu Ginobili in his first NBA All-Star game, will air the Finals live.
  • Prior to tonight’s player introductions, Will Smith will perform his single, “Switch.” Alanis Morissette, who became a U.S. citizen this year, will sing the national anthem. For Sunday’s Game Two, former “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem, and for Tuesday’s Game Three in Detroit, Stevie Wonder will perform both the anthem and his single, “So What the Fuss”.

nhl- What about the Sponsors

We keep on hearing the CBA may be settled by early July. One question I have is the major sponsors have to start spending their ad budgets next week or face a real possibility of being shut out of other media buys if the NHL does not come back in October.
For example, Molson wants to advertise in the NHL games, but with no CBA, they are not getting a guarantee that they need. Their backup ad buying plan is to buy time during NFL games, Comedy Central, etc. but those ad slots will soon dry up and will not be available.
The advertisers along with the NHL will soon be facing some major decisions. Hopefully the talk behind the scenes is the NHL will be back, but we have yet to hear anything concrete like that.

nba- Suicidal Lockout

from Bloomberg, The National Basketball Association appears headed for a "suicidal'" lockout, said Billy Hunter, executive director of the union that represents players.
"It's looking like it might be going in that direction,'' Hunter said in a telephone interview from California, his latest stop in a tour to update union members on negotiations. "The players can't understand why the owners would go to a lockout. It's suicidal.'' more..and you can't pay me enough to cover this one!!!

nhl- Players waking Up

from The Maven and MSG Network, “The labor (CBA) dispute will be settled only when the players take their destiny in their own hands!”
This quote has at least a dozen sources inside and outside the National Hockey League; if not thousands of others around the hockey world.
Many are saying it because they realize—at long last—that unless NHLPA executive committee members call the shots in the home stretch of hockey’s Civil War, all these tales about a deal being done will be about as useful as Monopoly money.
Some signs indicate that this is precisely what has been happening for the past two weeks.
As negotiations ground on through Thursday, there were signs of progress but not nearly as much as has been trumpeted in some Canadian papers such as the Globe and Mail of Toronto.
Asked if he thought a deal could be wrapped up by mid-July – not to be confused with June – one negotiator tells me that he believed that that was possible; but only if talks continued moving in a positive direction.
And they did up until Thursday’s on...

nhl- The Architect of Doom

from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Commissioner Gary Bettman has been the Architect of Doom, leading the NHL through a disastrous period of mindless over-expansion and costly homogenization of the product. Somehow, some way, the NHL attracted ambitious billionaire owners and then brought out the worst in them.
Attempts to attract new fans alienated the diehard fans. The NHL used to be a vibrant niche sport with a religious following in strong markets both sides of the border; now it is a watered-down NBA wannabe stuck in Sun Belt markets with dim futures.
A thrilling, hard-hitting live spectacle turned into tedious games of keep-away. Stifling team defensive schemes negated speed and skill. Fighting, once integral to the sport, became a predictable sideshow. Body-checking gave way to hooking and holding.
The body count was extraordinary during this needless battle. The players drank the Kool-Aid served by NHLPA czar Bob Goodenow and acted like tough guys . . . only to agree to a CBA that could have been ironed out two years ago without massive loss of income.
The fallout on their side of the bargaining table will be tremendous, too. Agents will demand a much stronger say in how the NHLPA operates. How can Goodenow survive this fiasco? the whole story...

Fun- This is just Wrong

A reader passed this along to me. Here is the website where you can get very creative.

nhl- Getting it Straight

The Detroit area hockey experts are coming out of the woodwork today claiming the NHLPA really blew this deal. Statements like "they could have had $42.5 million a few months ago and now look where they are at" are just ignorant and uninformed.
Most of know the $42.5 offer was really a $37 million offer plus there was no bottom cap figure. Therefore, a team could have had a payroll of $12 if they so choosed to do so, and I am sure some teams would have been below $20 million.
Once again I must stress the revenue sharing situation is stil being discussed and could be the "doomy cloud" in all of these talks.

Bits & Pieces

  • Life Time Fitness, Inc., a national operator of distinctive and large health and fitness centers, today announced that the company will offer Dominator Clothing's line of premium fitness and yoga apparel for men and women at 36 Life Time Fitness locations nationwide by the end of 2005. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. (I wonder if Dom ever paid the money he owed to a Detroit area mall for walking out on his lease.)
  • TNT’s coverage of Game Seven of the Heat-Pistons Eastern Conference Finals on Monday drew a 7.5 cable rating and 6.75 million households, making it the most-watched NBA playoff game in cable history.
  • The Baltimore Orioles began selling season tickets and tickets for tours of Camden Yards over the Internet this year, and they are “experimenting with making parking passes available online” and hope to have bar code readers installed on some parking lots within the next couple of years. The Orioles are also working on a system that will send e-mails to fans’ cell phones alerting them of the seats “still available for that day’s game.” Fans would be able to “purchase a ticket with the press of a keypad button,” after which a bar code would be sent to the cell phone to be scanned at the ballpark.

ncaah- The Frozen Tundra

Known throughout the world as the Frozen Tundra, Lambeau Field's nickname will take on a whole new meaning when the Green Bay Packers host a college hockey game at the historic stadium next year. Lambeau Field will be converted into an outdoor ice hockey stadium for the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic on Feb. 11, 2006, featuring the Wisconsin Badgers skating against the Ohio State Buckeyes....more...

nhl- Leaf Lunch Talk

Bill Watters on 640am in Toronto says there is no linkage on individual teams as of yet. Bill says the PA wants it and the NHL does not. Said some of the information floating about now is result of the "spinner". Still trying to figure out how revenue is defined, where it comes from, etc.

nhl- It is all screwed Up

via Alan Hahn & NYNewsday, And so begins what expects to be a furious competition within the hockey media to be the first outlet to report the end of the NHL lockout. Wednesday's report in Toronto's Globe & Mail trumpeted an alleged agreement of a salary cap structure that, for most, had been believed to be a given for quite some time.
Those working within the negotiating room were annoyed by the report -- "As screwed up as most 'reports'," said one person involved in the situation -- which was not the first premature report by the media during this lockout. With an agreement on the horizon, anything said lately by the parties directly involved in collective bargaining has had a delicate, cautious tone.
"We're working in small groups and subcommittees over the days to come," the person said. "There won't be any piecemeal reports about what's resolved and what's remaining. The process really doesn't benefit from that kind of analysis."
"It ain't over 'till it's over," the person added. "Many a labor negotiation has blown up over some small piece after the main piece is 'settled'."
Though it mostly reinforced what had been widely reported by several other outlets, including the New York Post, the Globe & Mail, based on sources, outlined a system that involved salary ranges based on revenue, maxing out at $34 million to $36 million per team with a minimum of $22 million to $24 million. The newspaper reported a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax at the mid-range, perhaps $29 million.
"It isn't coming from here," said a person close to the NHL's negotiating team. "And it wouldn't make sense for it to be coming from the PA. We're working hard; long hours and going through everything."
The person reiterated the point that while the process could be resolved within the month, it could go into July only because of diligence by both sides. Neither is in a rush to make a premature announcement and produce the same false hope that came in February, when a last-ditch attempt to save the 2004-05 season failed.

nba- Dirty Pool

If you were a neutral observer of the NBA Championship Series, who would you root for after seeing the picture of Eva Longoria, who dates Spurs guard Tony Parker? Kid Rock, the celeb face of the Pistons, dates just about every female within a 50 mile radius of Detroit.
Both teams are a mirror image of each other, but in some ways, they are not.

nhl- The New NHL

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, Considering the gloom and doom that surrounds the NHL, the level of optimism within the game itself is astonishingly high.
In the past two weeks or so, more and more players have swung over to the let's-get-it-done approach, and told their representatives at the NHL Players' Association to get the best possible deal but do it quickly.
Some players, such as Brendan Morrison of the Vancouver Canucks, have articulated those views publicly, but there are many others, even some who were among the most militant a few weeks ago, who have now joined the pragmatists.
There aren't many secrets within the NHL community, and now, almost everyone seems to expect the new deal to be struck before the month is over. Even though a report of the salary-cap issue having been settled turned out to be premature, progress is being made.
But the optimism goes far beyond the mere existence of a collective bargaining agreement.
There is a sense on both sides that the game can sink no lower. Its support in the U.S. is close to non-existent; commissioner Gary Bettman has parlayed the once-lucrative network-television packages into nothing more than a memory; the league was so eager to win the public-relations battle in Canada that it did so by alienating the fans against the players and as a result, many of the formerly faithful are swearing that they won't return.
But against this bleak backdrop, there is an attitude that the NHL can only get better and that there is a league-wide commitment to making that happen.
The rule changes will not only be so sweeping that they should make the game exciting again, they will have the support of everyone involved.
There is a consensus that a dramatic makeover is needed and that after a year of inactivity, the timing is perfect. The widely held vision is the new rules will be a long overdue cure for many of the game's ailments.
The salaries will not be what the players wanted, but the system that is being hammered out is one that will allow higher salary-cap ceilings if the owners' revenues rise. As a result, the players will not return with a sense of animosity but with a desire to make the game more attractive to the fans and hence more profitable to the owners.
There has already been agreement among the players that they will become much more accessible and there is an agreement among the owners that any general manager who tries to thwart that development will not be allowed to do so.
In the past, accessibility rules have been ignored and the league, to its own detriment, has done nothing about it.
Both sides agree that if this game is to be sold, it is the players who will have to do it. And serious steps will be taken to bring that about.
In the past couple of weeks, a new attitude has emerged within the hockey world. There is a mutual sense of purpose that even borders on eager anticipation.
The NHL will be back next season, and in the not-too-distant future, the specifics will be made public. And after that, everyone seems to agree, it will get steadily better.

nhl- Poor rich Teams

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, A new National Hockey League salary cap would require some clubs to trim their payrolls and rosters severely enough to turn them from contenders into pretenders.
If, as now appears increasingly likely, the NHL's club owners and players reach a collective labour agreement that includes a salary cap, teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche would not be expected to be happy with the damage this would inflict on their lineups....continued...

nhl- Update on Globe & Mail Salary Cap Story

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, For the first time in 266 days of the National Hockey League lockout, there is hope for an end, as sources with ties to both sides of the labour dispute say the players and owners have cleared their biggest hurdle by agreeing on a formula for a salary cap.
The cap, which sources say will be tied to a percentage of team revenues, is expected to form the foundation of a six-year deal.
According to a source with ties to both owners and players, and another source close to the owners, there will be a team-by-team salary floor and cap based on a percentage of each team's revenue. The actual percentage is not known, although the league had been demanding 54 per cent.
In the first year of the agreement, the salary cap will range from $34-million (all figures U.S.) to $36-million, based on revenue projections by both sides, with a floor of $22-million to $24-million....more...

nhl- Cap still to be Settled

from al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, While progress is being made in the talks between the NHL and the Players' Association, no firm agreement has been reached on the crucial salary cap issue.
A published report yesterday said the two sides had agreed upon a formula for a salary-cap system based on team-by-team revenue.
"It is inaccurate to say there is an agreement on any one item," a high-ranking NHLPA source told The Toronto Sun following yesterday's negotiation session. "Right now, lots of items are in a state of flux."
On Tuesday, the internal groups discussed economic issues, both at the league and team levels.
Yesterday, the two sides discussed a number of matters regarding players' rights and how they break down between the team and the player.
The source said that no area has yet been resolved and that every suggestion from one side earns a counter-suggestion from the other side.
"Every issue imaginable is being discussed, from economics and limits and caps to the draft and pensions," the source said.
But the good news is that the discussions are ongoing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

nhl- Cap story Confusing

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, Wednesday's story on the Globe and Mail's website is both interesting and confusing.
Interesting because it re-affirms the rumours that the NHL and NHL Players' Association have basically agreed on a macro-economic linked salary cap payroll system and also interesting because it's chock full of specific numbers, though these numbers are not too much different than what were reported in the New York Post 10 days ago.
But it's an extremely confusing story for the following reason:
The story says each team will have its own individual salary floor and ceiling and that this team-by-team payroll range will be determined as a percentage of each club's individual revenue, not as a percentage of league-wide revenue.
If this were indeed the case, it would be a huge victory for the NHL Players' Association, which would love nothing more than to allow larger revenue teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers to spend much more than small revenue teams like the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes.
Think about it. Say for argument's sake, one NHL team has revenues of $100 million and another team has revenues of $50 million. If, as an example, the teams are permitted to spend 54 per cent of revenues on salaries, one team would have a cap of $54 million, while the other team would have a cap of $27 million. That is a $27 million spread between the two teams' caps and you can rest assured it will be a frosty Friday in hell before NHL teams sign off on that type of discrepancy.
And, in fact, the Globe and Mail alludes to the incongruity of that type of formula, but passes it off as saying it will be a "complicated" system....more...

nhl- Wait for the Official Word

Talk of an agreement on cap and revenue sharing is great news, but the figures being tossed around have NOT been verified.
Word of caution, wait until we hear it from GB and BG.

nhl- Check it Out

Aleksey Kovalev's website, translated into English. Give it some time to open.
He basically says the only thing left is UFA status.

nhl- Biggest hurdle Cleared

from the Toronto Globe and Mail(reg. req. maybe), The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association have cleared the biggest hurdle in their labour negotiations by agreeing on a formula for a salary-cap system based on team-by-team revenue, according to separate sources.
This has been the most contentious issue between the owners and players, but the sources also said it does not mean a new collective agreement is close to completion. The negotiating teams are now working on salary arbitration, free agency, qualifying contract offers and other issues, any of which could be deal-breakers.
"They still have a ways to go," one source said, although with the cap issue settled there is much more reason for optimism that a deal can be reached by early July.
NHL vice-president Bill Daly, the league's chief negotiator, declined to confirm or deny anything. But Daly did say publicly on Tuesday that the negotiators had moved on to other issues....continued...

nhl- Make Believe Broadcast Team

Ok, you get to put together your broadcast A-team for TNT. Who do you pick?
Need a play-by-play guy, a color commentator, a roving reporter and two people in the studio.

nhl- Players taking the Brunt of Sacrifices

via Sportsnet, Vancouver Canucks player rep Brendan Morrison thinks it's time to put the game first, and if it means accepting a cap linked to revenues, so be it.
"As negotiations progress, scenarios change," Morrison told the Vancouver Sun. "To get a deal done, a lot of times you have to make sacrifices. I guess it boils down to what's best for the game -- and what's best for the game is to get back on the ice and play. So if that means us maybe taking the brunt of the sacrifices, it looks like that's what we're willing to do."

nhl- CBA Update

from 640Toronto Radio, During Leaf Lunch, said the meeting today is a much larger group than yesterday. Also mentioned that a few NHL sources have said they are done negotiating and getting down to more legal talk.
The next BOG will be interesting where revenue sharing will be discussed. They mentioned can you see Ilitch writing out a check to Karmanos?

nhl- TNT interested in NHL

Down near the bottom of the article, from Mediaweek, David Levy also told Mediaweek that Turner would be interested in acquiring cable rights to the National Hockey League telecasts now that ESPN has decided not to renew its rights agreement. “We looked at the NHL in the past and were not able to come up with a financial model that worked for us,” Levy said. “But if the NHL approaches us with a model that works for both of us, we would certainly look at it. Hockey is a proven professional sport, so if the NHL has any ideas, we would look at it.”

nhl- Anothe option from Bain Capital

from Reuters, An outside bid to buy the National Hockey League allows team owners the chance to maintain a stake in the league, according to people close to the deal.
The provision is added incentive for team owners mulling a bid by private equity firm Bain Capital and investment firm Game Plan International to buy the 30-team league for $4.3 billion.
A spokesman for the NHL declined to comment on the deal on Wednesday.
Bain and Game Plan's offer seemed far fetched at first, with details scant and many league followers doubting that all 30 owners would agree to sell.
But stalled player contract negotiations, which forced the league to cancel the 2004-2005 season, remain at a standstill, fueling frustration levels between players and owners.
Add to that the ability to retain an equity stake in the league, and Bain and Game Plan's buyout offer may not appear so outlandish to owners reluctant to sell.
"Everyday a deal is not reached, more and more frustration builds up. I suspect there will come a time when the owners will throw up their hands and say 'we've explored all the options and they're all bad,"' said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a Chicago-based sports advisory firm. "Bain is offering a very interesting and, perhaps, very attractive offer."
The equity provision says team owners can apply a portion of their team's agreed upon value to a pro rata share of the equity of the new entity under Bain and Game Plan, according to people familiar with the deal.
That in turn would provide middle-ground for owners unwilling to sell their team outright.
In short, an owner has the option to sell and take the cash, or take a portion of the cash and invest it into the new on...

nhl- CBA talks continue Today

via TSN, Small group labour talks between the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association ended late Tuesday night and resume Wednesday in New York with a larger group meeting. Both sides have carried over the momentum from last week when 34 hours of talks were described as 'progressive' from both sides. There are several issues to iron out, but sources in both camps believe there's a chance a deal could be done before July. Still, both sides also concede there are potential pitfalls that could prevent an agreement from being reached.

nhl- Cater to the Fans

via Slam, Congratulations to the NHL for finally showing the courage to consider substantial changes to its game.
Sports is about catering to fans, not Old Boy traditionalists who can't recognize a sinking ship when they see one.
But before Gary Bettman and the general managers do anything more than shrink the goalie equipment, they need to address the schedule. Right now there are simply too many games that just don't matter and, thus, too many nights when everyone is going through the motions.
That has to be fixed. First, because without any intensity in the air, a 7-6 shinny game with big nets and no red lines is no more exciting than a 2-1 trapping contest.
Give us significantly fewer regular-season games (even if that means an expanded playoff format) and more divisional play to foster rivalries.
In short, give us a climate where every game matters because when NHLers are going all-out, there's no better sport in the world.

This & That

  • Wheaties yesterday unveiled a new box featuring former MLBer and Tigers bench coach Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the ’88 World Series. A special edition will be released in conjunction with July’s MLB All-Star Game in Detroit, and Gibson will appear in a new Wheaties TV commercial beginning next month.
  • BackCare Founder Neal Taslitz’ eBay auction for Michael Jordan’s custom-made chair closed Sunday night without receiving the minimum bid of $200,000. The chair, which Jordan sat in while watching game tapes at the Bulls training center during the ‘90s, had been on eBay for 10 days. Taslitz, who plans to re-list the chair with a lower starting bid, thinks there is value in it because the command chair from the Enterprise on the “Star Trek” TV show sold for $265,000 several years ago. Taslitz: “Arguably, Michael Jordan is as well known and admired as Capt. Kirk was.”
  • The Dodgers announced that they have surpassed the 3-million mark in ticket sales for the ’05 season, the quickest the team has surpassed that mark since ’92.
  • has posted odds on the NBA final and has listed the San Antonio Spurs a -240 favorite to beat the defending champions from Detroit. has also listed the Spurs' Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli as 9-5 co-favorites to take home the NBA Finals MVP award.

nhl- Recap of Tuesday Meeting

via the Philadelphia Inquirer, The NHL and the NHL Players' Association resumed talks yesterday in New York as they moved closer to drafting a collective-bargaining agreement.
The major components of the deal are near completion, and it is believed that both sides are drafting the legal language of those components.
"There remains much to be done in all areas, so it would be incorrect to assume there is an agreement in place on the overall economic structure, since that framework is still being negotiated," one source involved in the process said.
Although neither side has said that the major financial and economic structure of the deal is in place, it appears that they have agreed on accounting practices and finances for all 30 clubs and that they have narrowed the range of where a salary cap - between $38 million and $43 million - should fall. The parameters for a luxury-tax structure also have been narrowed.
When Friday's talks ended, Bill Daly, the league's executive vice president and chief legal counsel, said that both sides hoped to tackle "myriad" other issues in this week's meetings. That means they want to move on to ancillary issues.
It was the first hint that a significant breakthrough on the financial and economic structure of the collective-bargaining agreement had been made.
Daly and Ted Saskin, the union's senior director, said last fall that until the economic system for the next agreement was in place, it was pointless to discuss free agency, arbitration or rookie contracts, since those issues were directly affected by the financial structure of whatever deal would be worked out.

nhl- What else did they have to Do

from the Toronto Star, If the NHL's research and development camp was supposed to be the seminal event of the non-season, you wouldn't know it by taking attendance.
Through the first two days of the camp, just 14 GMs and six coaches made an appearance. That means that of the 58 GMs and coaches in the NHL (the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim currently don't have a GM and Darryl Sutter handles both duties with the Calgary Flames), more than 65 per cent of them have chosen not to attend.
And while a number of teams have dispatched assistant GMs or scouts to view the proceedings, nine teams haven't bothered to show up at all. The Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes did not have an employee at the event for the first two days.
Not exactly a sterling attendance record for an event that is supposed to chart the future of the on-ice product and re-package itself to NHL fans, "after spitting at them for the last 12 months," as New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury put it.
NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, who organized the event, said part of the reason for the no-shows is the fact that the summit was organized just three weeks ago and a number of hockey people were already committed to other things. But as Milbury pointed out, he changed his schedule so he could be at the camp.
"We provide this and if they don't want to come, hey, it doesn't bother me," Campbell said. "It doesn't disappoint me. Down the road, if people want to make comments, they should have been here."
Another GM summed up those sentiments, saying those who didn't show have little right to complain.
"That's what I told Colie Campbell today," the GM said. "How can these guys stand up at a GMs meeting and bitch and complain when they weren't even part of the process?"

nhl- Fans will heal faster than Players

from the Toronto Sun, Harry Sinden believes the public will re-embrace the National Hockey League after its shoddy treatment of the fans, but isn't sure about healing the rift between owners and players after the lockout ends.
"That remains to be seen," said the Boston Bruins' president, a noted hawk in past dealings with the National Hockey League Players' Association.
The betting is that a collective bargaining agreement will be hammered out in the next month with a salary cap, once antithetical to the players' pre-lockout platform. Careful not to fire up the rhetoric again, Sinden said the owners' case has stood up through the ensuing nine months of haggling for a new economic order.
"Going in, I knew the truth and the truth was the league had no alternative (but to cancel the season)," he said yesterday. "When you really don't have an alternative, it's a very difficult negotiation for both sides to come to grips with."
Sinden has no doubt there will be sore feelings when the players return, but hopes the two sides can move on....more...

nhl- Still Talking

via Newsday, The NHL and Players Association resumed collective bargaining yesterday in Manhattan and will continue today and tomorrow. As the sides are apparently working toward a deal, a person close to the situation said that while it is possible an agreement could be done this month, it could go beyond June. "It could go longer just in terms of the enormous amount of work to be done and the drafting of a CBA," the person said, "which must and will be done before a deal is announced."

nhl- What to do with TV

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Last week, ESPN announced it had stopped negotiating with the National Hockey League for a new television deal. The message seemed clear: NHL games would no longer be carried on ESPN and ESPN2. A 13-year relationship had ended. How big a blow to the NHL is the departure of ESPN? Depending on who in the sports TV business is talking, the answer ranges from not much to serious.
First, the serious: ESPN and ESPN2 are national cable services. Big-time sports properties in the United States receive national cable distribution.
What's more, ESPN deals exclusively in sports content, which meant sports viewers received plenty of exposure to hockey. That helped the game grow.
"You can't underestimate the value of cross-promoting," a TV source said. "That's why NBC's acquiring Sunday night football was so important to the NHL. NBC will use the Sunday night game to promote its hockey telecasts."...more...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

nhl- CBA Meeting Today

No information released today about the meeting. Small groups were to gather and discuss various isssues.
I will update early in the morning if any information is available.

nba- Gone Fishin

Looks like Shaq and Wade were busy today!
The Pistons do not have the most talented players on the court, but play a complete team game.
Can they make it 2 in a Fro?

nhl- Stan's Ramblings

from The Maven and MSG Network, A hot question making the rounds concerns Bob Goodenow’s future as NHLPA boss. If the players lose big-time in the CBA Cup, as some suggest, how does the Executive Director explain his brilliant strategy well enough to keep his job?
Hands-down favorite to replace BG from inside the NHLPA is Mike Gartner. Our choice: PHPA head, Larry Landon. You can bet that Bob won’t give up that goody-goody (No Cap) job without a battle.
The NHL cannot claim ignorance on this issue: Important Canadian columnists – from the Toronto Star’s Damian Cox to the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey – are warning Bettman, Inc. about Sid Crosby. Ergo: the Crown Jewel must be protected from the usual thuggery. “When hockey comes back,” says Hickey, “it should be an opportunity to enforce all the rules, all the time.” (Our comment: That’ll be the day!) more...

nhl- What do you Believe

from Stan Fischler and MSG Network, When we talk about a CBA these days, the C stands for credibility -- as in “Is there any?” -- and the B stands for “Baloney,” of which there is tons when discussing hockey’s Civil War.
Make no mistake, the propaganda game is being played as intensively as the negotiations between Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow. But there’s another battle being fought in the media in terms of getting the “beat” (or “scoop,” if you will) on the other guy, the other columnist, the other network or that blog out there.
Those of us who have been burned by “Stupid Saturday,” when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were supposed to have delivered a new CBA on a silver chariot, disguised as a stretch limo, remain skeptical to the very on...

nhl- HHOF Hurting

from the CP via Sportsnet, The Hockey Hall of Fame has taken a hit from the NHL lockout as far fewer people walked through its doors this winter.
"Because of the lockout, it's affected our walk-in traffic by 40 or 45 per cent," Hall chairman Bill Hay said Tuesday. "Our strong months are July, August and September and then we weaken a little bit, but we never recovered through Christmas.
"A big part of it is, without the Leafs playing at home, the Detroit fans and Buffalo fans that come with the teams, they always come through the Hall. We're really missing that."
The Hall unveiled a $750,000 expansion of its World of Hockey Zone on Tuesday.
The exhibition is devoted to hockey around the world, not the NHL, which Hay hopes will interest hockey fans turned off by the lockout.
"They're a little bit sour at the game and we're not the NHL Hall of Fame as you can see with the opening here," Hay on...

nhl- Repercussions of the new Rules

from, You know what happens when you tip over the first domino in the line; a chain reaction leads to one falling after another. But, what if you tipped the obvious domino, the chain reaction went as planned and suddenly something unexpected happened like, the lights in your house went off? National Hockey League general managers, coaches and hockey operations personnel pondered that sort of question as they observed Day 2 of the NHL's Research and Development Camp here in the Toronto suburbs. The NHL has enlisted the help of overage junior and college players to test out a variety of rules and equipment changes with an eye on how they will affect the game. The open-minded nature has everyone thinking about the alternative and permutations that can result in even the slightest change. Day 2's morning session continued today with goals that are four inches wider and four inches higher than the current cages. Players, officials and coaches were asked to focus on a "Zero Tolerance" policy where the refs called everything. The extra scrutiny resulted in 32 penalties being called during a 45-minute session. On the surface, the obvious changes are the slimmed-down goalie pads, new lines on the ice and bigger goals, but underneath that, are more subtle rules such as disallowing a team that has iced the puck to make a line change or having the offensive player put his stick down second on a faceoff. These might seem like trivial details to the common hockey fan, but to the guys who must find a way to operate within the boundaries of such potential rules, they're already thinking about the repercussions and how they would handle them....more...

nhl- Shootout Coming

from the CP via the Toronto Globe and Mail, Ties could be broken by shootouts after regular-season games whenever the NHL restarts.
It's not official yet, but club executives agree they need a more entertaining product, says New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury.
"If they don't have a shootout, I'll be shocked," says Milbury. "That's an easy one.
"The fans want it, and it's the least we can do after spitting at them for the last 12 months."
Fans in the AHL and elsewhere have grown to enjoy shootouts, says Steve Tambellini, director of player personnel for the Vancouver Canucks. The trend is obvious.
"It sounds like most people want a definite outcome — a win or loss — one way or the other," Tambellini said during a break on the second day of the three-day NHL research camp Tuesday.
After watching free-agent junior and college players test on Monday a radical plan by Boston Bruins president Harry Sinden that allows passing from the top of the faceoff circles to anywhere on the ice, and the use of nets four inches (6.5 centimetres) taller and eight inches (20 centimetres) wider than normal, club representatives took in scrimmages Tuesday to test zero tolerance on obstruction fouls and weird-looking nets with arced posts.
The most likely changes in NHL play for the next season are shootouts, smaller goalie equipment and tag-up offsides. Some of the radical stuff being tested is too over the top for many GMs.
"We have, traditionally, been very conservative as a group," said Milbury. "There isn't any doubt about that....continue...

nhl- Forget the CBA for a Moment

This is about the future of the game. I have serious doubts that the NHL will tweak this game so much to attract new fans to the game, that all of the tradition and elements of NHL hockey will be changed forever.
I would like to see the rule book called every minute of every game, get rid of the instigator penalty and make the goalie equipment smaller. All of the other changes that are being talked about are just too drastic and I fear the game will lose its roots.
As Damien Cox wrote a few days ago, the people in charge of examining the rules are the same people who said there was nothing wrong with the game two years ago.
Your views are welcomed here!!!

nhl- Bettman Thoughts continued

Q: How do you look at the attributes of your brand, and what goes into your decision to change your brand and how to move it forward?
BETTMAN: For us, branding is about how we relate to our fans. We view ourselves as exciting, fast–paced, passionate entertainment, with the world's best athletes, skating on a quarter of an inch blade of steel at 30 miles an hour, encouraged to physically impact with each other and score goals at the same time. It is a game that people can connect to, people can get excited about. And those attributes are what give us a fan base that, believe it or not, is the best educated, most affluent, and most tech savvy of all of the major sports.
So what we do in terms of our branding is making sure that people feel those elements of the game, the excitement, the passion, the quality of our players, the excitement of our competition. And we have to constantly reinforce that message to the people who are our fans, and to casual sports fans who we're trying to get hooked.

Q: When you think about inspirational leaders, who you've looked at and maybe thought about the skills that they brought to their jobs, do any stand out as having given you some thoughts about how to be a better commissioner?
BETTMAN: You know, there's no one person who does that. Obviously, I grew up mentored by David Stern. You know, I knew Pete Rosell. I've had an opportunity to spend time with business leaders who run big companies, and do it very well. I don't think that there is one model out there. I think every leader has to adapt to his company, has to adapt to the customers that the company has to deal with, has to set the tone that works within the culture and the environment that they have to be in. I think you really have to pick and choose the best of the best. At least that's what I try and do. And I hope I do it in terms of my own organization, both at the league level and the team level, in a way that it gives people comfort that we're doing the right things, that we're on the right course, and that we're executing the way we need to.

Q: I'm a great believer that we can all learn from each other in terms of a lot of things, certainly leadership. You are in a very visible role, you still are, and a very challenging role over the last year as a leader. If you were teaching a class on leadership, what are the key principle leaderships that you've followed, things that you might have earned along the way?
BETTMAN: That's a great question. From my standpoint – and keep in the context that I'm dealing with a two–tiered organization, with people that have different agendas – you've got to set a course that people believe in. You have to make sure that the people that work with you have confidence in where you're going, how you're getting there, and their role in the process.
Because, particularly in my business, having the right answer is important. You've got to do your homework. You've got to be on top of your game, knowing what you're doing, knowing more than anybody else. But getting the answer right is important, but so is how you get there. Because if people feel that they're having things just shoved down their throats, instead of being part of the process of getting you where you're going, you get resistance.
In our case, where I've got 30 different clubs, I need to get everybody moving in lockstep. I need everybody to come out of yesterday's meeting believing that the decision we made was the right one. And so it isn't about me going into a meeting and saying, "Here's what we need to do." It is really, "Here are the issues. Here are the things you need to know about both sides. And here's how I think together we can work our way through it."
So it's building a consensus both through substance and process, and letting people believe that you're doing the right things and that you know where you're going. Because if they don't have confidence in you, they're not going to fulfill your agenda. Sure, it's hard. But as long as you feel ike you're doing the right thing, then you can live with yourself and be at peace about it, because you're meeting the responsibilities you have as a leader."

nhl- Optimism Growing

from the LA Times, Against a backdrop of growing optimism, representatives of the NHL and the NHL Players' Assn. today will begin three days of meetings in New York, hoping to build on momentum from recent sessions. They will meet in a small group this week, and while there remain issues to work out, multiple sources said that significant progress has been made and a tentative agreement could be in place within two weeks. "This is the first time that the two sides are working together, moving toward a deal," a source familiar with the union side of the negotiations said. The sides have already resolved several differences, the source said. The players are still unwilling to agree to a 24% across-the-board rollback of salaries unless the NHL honors contracts from the 2004-05 season, but that might not be a deal-breaker. The union may use that as leverage to gain concessions in other areas, such as qualifying offers. Union chief Bob Goodenow has been less involved in the current negotiations, the source said, adding that Vancouver's Trevor Linden, Detroit's Brendan Shanahan and Dallas' Bill Guerin, players on the NHLPA executive committee, have had increasing influence. Former player Mike Gartner, director of business relations for the NHLPA, has also had a greater role. But Goodenow's input is expected before a deal is consummated.

nhl- Bigger Nets- Maybe

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun via Slam, The open-game concept? Forget it.
But the bigger nets and no red line? A lot better than expected.
Those were the consensus opinions at the National Hockey League's research and development camp yesterday, the latest attempt by the league to come up with workable rules that will make the game more exciting when it returns.
Fans already know that in the new NHL, the game will be radically altered. There will be shootouts, thereby making ties a thing of the past. And the tag-up rule will be back. The goalies' pads will be smaller.
But what else?...continue...

Monday, June 06, 2005

nhl- What about the Players

from Spector and FoxSports, Whenever the National Hockey League finally gets back into action, it will have serious work ahead in repairing its tattered image.
A new national television deal in the United States may have to be negotiated, either with ESPN, which recently decided not to pick up the option year in its contract with the league, or with another network.
Sponsors will have to be placated and replacements may have to be found for those that feel their advertising fees are better spent elsewhere in the wake of the lockout.
Most importantly, the league will have to woo back the fans, particularly those that invest in season tickets.
League headquarters and the owners of the 30 NHL clubs will have to pull out the stops to sell their product, particularly in the United States where the league's visibility among American sports fans prior to the lockout was already fading.
To do this, the league and the team owners will have to highlight the accomplishments of its players as well as improve the image it presented of the players during the lockout.
The league deserves much credit for the way it waged the public relations war against the NHL Players' Association during the course of the lockout, as many polls indicated the majority of NHL fans supported the owners rather than the players.
This was helped along by media coverage, which painted the players as greedy, selfish, spoiled athletes more interested in money than in the good of the game. The press also tarred NHLPA director Bob Goodenow as either an egomaniac on the verge of being overthrown by his constituents or a dictatorial Svengali who duped and bullied gullible players in following his on...

nhl- Reading between the Lines

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, During the NHL lockout, the last place you would normally expect to find any real news would be in the post-meeting news releases from either the NHL or NHL Players Association, which for months said nothing more than "no progress" or "philosophical differences."
No matter what it said, it wasn't good - and it wasn't newsy in the least.
On Friday, after the last meeting, that may have changed.
Here's NHL vice president Bill Daly's quote from that release.
"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."
At first glance, it looks like standard fare - lots of work to be done, meetings next week - but it's the final line where he says, "at which time we hope to begin discussing a myriad of other CBA issues" that could actually signal a somewhat momentous breakthrough.
The key phrase here is "other CBA issues," with "other" meaning, not financial or accounting....more...

Cherry Picker Delight

More information on the R & D session today.

nhl- Why the sudden Change

from the Toronto Star, It wasn't so long ago that the NHL was categorically denying there were any worrisome problems with the brand of hockey played in the league.
To suggest there were such issues would make one the object of Nixonian-like accusations from Gary Bettman's administration, with Bettman himself publicly criticizing those who believed the game needed fixing as having a hidden agenda and an axe to grind.
Some agenda. Some axe.
Today, there is widespread acceptance of the need to extensively refurbish the NHL game, both inside and outside the NHL.
Yet it's troubling to hear influential types — many of them in the league offices — still contend that only a few little changes are required. A little tinkering here, a little line to be moved there.
Given all that has happened, one wonders what, exactly, would convince them real trouble is afoot. Thirty empty arenas? No television coverage anywhere in North America?
But here's the problem. The same people charged with deciding how the game needs to be changed now are the same folks who, two or three years ago, were arguing passionately that nothing of significance needed to be changed.
So how much hope can there be?...more...

nhl- CBA meeting Tomorrow

via Canadian Press, After three marathon sessions last week in Toronto, the NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York.
Two two sides met for nearly 14 hours at a Toronto hotel on Friday after a pair of ten-hour sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.
The feeling in both camps after the meetings 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."
While progress has been slow but steady, the two sides continue to plug away at it. Tuesday's meeting will be the 20th session since the season was cancelled Feb. 16.

nhl- What the General Managers Think

from Sportsnet, The offside whistles for the entire three-period scrimmage could be counted on one hand, and Glen Sather had to grin.
"Could you imagine Wayne (Gretzky) and Mario (Lemieux) playing that kind of game?" Sather wondered. "They'd have a field day."
The New York Rangers boss and other GMs and coaches were at an airport-area arena Monday for the first of three days of rules experiments, and things got started with a look at the "open game" concept put forth by the Boston Bruins.
Club president Harry Sinden contends that offences would be liberated and neutral zone trapping obliterated by removing the centre red-line and the blue-lines. Instead he suggests putting thin lines a few feet above the faceoff circles at each end of the ice and allowing passes to go anywhere on the ice once the player with the puck reaches the pass line in his zone.
"I don't know if I'd want to rush into it but I sure like the idea," said Sather.
read on...

nhl- D-Day for the CBA

from The Maven and MSG Network, In military-historic terms, it honors the Allied heroes who stormed the Normandy beaches to throw back the Nazis on that momentous day in 1944.
In the most contemporary of hockey terms – and times – D-Day refers to D, as in Date. As in THE date when the new NHL-NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.
In my estimation, three NHL D-Days are most likely in terms of a settlement of hockey’s Civil War. They are as follows:
MID-JUNE – Take your pick; either June 16 or June 21. Optimists believe that negotiations between ownership and the union have proceeded well enough for a peace parley to be called around one of those days. This would allow teams sufficient time to sell season tickets and pursue advertisers.
JULY 1 – The more realistic approach suggests nothing can be finished in June. There remain several knotty issues to unravel and a most complicated CBA to be authored in final form. NHL lawyers correctly are wary of loopholes that could prove a problem in the manner of the 1995 CBA. Waiting until the start of the next month provides ample time to erase loopholes, dot i’s and cross t’ much more...

blogging- Sometimes a cruel World

Some of you may have read or heard about the article that appeared in Sports Business Journal (paid sub.) about a certain blogger two weeks ago. In the issue for this week, this letter appeared in letters to the Editor:

How You See It
"Do you realize what NHL blog is really like?"
Published June 06, 2005 : Page 24
Do you realize what a sham this Eklund is [“Blogger puts readers inside NHL labor talks,” May 23-29]? Do you realize at one time he begged people to click on his Google ads on his blog because he needed the money? Do you realize he told people back in November that the collective-bargaining agreement would be settled in less than a week, and he continued to do so until late February?
He deleted his old blog because there were so many wrong predictions in it. He refuses to allow comments on his blog because people have proved him wrong time and time again. He only allows people to join his forum and if they say anything contrary to his beliefs, he deletes their account.
You publication has lost an awful lot of credibility in the hockey world. An injustice to many fans has been done.
Roger Krison

Ouch!!! And the only comment I have about this blogger is I stopped reading his old blog when he told his readers he was at in the same Toronto hotel where a secret NHL CBA meeting was being held. He was the only person there, all media types were at a different location, but the blogger could not report what was going on because he had to go to dinner. Never another word was written about this and I stopped reading from then on.

nhl- Will the trend Continue

NHL television ratings have fallen steadily throughout Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, down 40 percent since 1995-96 on ESPN and more than 50 percent on ESPN2 (see chart). But Bettman has always maintained that he didn’t believe the league had a problem on the television front. Two years ago, when the league’s five-year, $600 million contract with ABC and ESPN was about to expire, he boldly predicted the league’s next deal would be equal or better. The end result was deals that cut the guaranteed rights fees in half. That dwindled to nothing when ESPN did not exercise its option.
“If you have ratings that are that low, your partners are going to move on,” said television consultant Kevin O’Malley.

nhl- Improve the NHL Camp Kicks Off

from the Hockey News, The NHL is kicking off three days of experimental scrimmage hockey in Toronto today with a radical proposal to improve the game.
First up in the morning session is a look at the Boston Bruins’ “open ice” concept, under which the only relevant line on the ice is drawn above the faceoff circles in the defensive zones. Once a puck-carrier crosses that line, everything would be allowed – i.e. no icings will be called, no passes would be called back for being too long and there would be no such thing as offside.
The NHL says it will watch for promising trends over the three days in what is being billed as a “research and development” camp. There will be two scrimmages a day and all of the ideas that have been tossed around to boost excitement and scoring chances – smaller pads, bigger nets, two-line passes, new lines in different places – are on tap. Players recruited to participate include overage juniors and college players.
The afternoon session on Monday features larger nets and no red line. Tuesday is set to be the testing ground for zero tolerance on infractions against the puck carrier, plus more liberal passing rules using a new line across the top of the faceoff circles that would modify icing and offside rules, as advocated by Scotty Bowman...continued...

WHA & U.S. Pro Golf Tour are Merging

Park Hill Capital II, Inc., a U.S. public company soon to be publicly trading on a U.S. exchange, announced today that after several months of confidential negotiations, it will acquire the World Hockey Association and the U.S. Pro Golf Tour to create a complete professional sports marketing and management company to be renamed Major League Sports Corporation.
The World Hockey Association first took the sports world by surprise in 1972 launching a very successful attack on the National Hockey League (NHL) by attracting the superstars of the time to play in the new league where a mutual respect of owners, players and fans reigned.
This new corporate and financing structure will enable the WHA to launch its operation and effectively revive the sport of professional hockey, with a minimum of six teams in cities yet to be announced, in time for the 2005 and 2006 season.
Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull is at the center stage of this rebirth; serving as the new league's commissioner. Mr. Hull and his associates bring an abundance of hockey experience together with a refined business model strategically aligned with the economics of today's professional sport industry. With the financial backing of investors in place, the WHA is in a unique position to attract star players, like in its previous life when Wayne Gretzky, Mike Gartner, Gordie Howe, Paul Henderson, Rejean Houle, Norm Ullman and Frank Mahovlich all played for the league.
"After already receiving hundreds of current NHL, AHL and other league player inquiries, we expect that a good number of both star players and up and comers will join us in this new and exciting rebirth of both the WHA and the sport of professional hockey. We believe they will welcome this new league, one that respects fans, players, shareholders, sponsors and perhaps most importantly, the integrity of the game," said Richard Smith, President of the WHA....more...