Breaking Sports

Saturday, June 18, 2005

nhl- Selling the Game

from the Rocky Mountain News, Indications are positive that the NHL will resume play in the fall as officials from the league and NHL Players' Association continue to make progress in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
The parties met for more than 28 hours over four days this week and are scheduled to meet Monday in Toronto.
It's even possible an agreement could be in place by the end of the month, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might need to do quite a sales job to lure back hockey fans.
"If we can reach an agreement and have a couple of months to prepare for a season, we can sell it as a different product instead of just saying, 'OK, we signed an agreement, the NHL is back,' " Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake said. "If it's going to be the same old thing, then we're going to have the same problems that we had before.
"If there was any one positive thing about a whole-year lockout, it's that both sides understand we need to create a better show. The structure of our game is great, but I do think there's some different things we can do to create a little more open ice and allow the exciting players to be more exciting."
League officials are considering several rules changes to make the game more entertaining and allow star players to showcase their talents without being mauled all over the ice.
"It's a lot easier in Sweden because you have a bigger ice surface and there's no red line," Peter Forsberg said. "There's more room and you don't get grabbed every single second."...continued...

nhl- The small market teams Profit

from the Philadelphia Inquirer (Sun. Edition) via the Mercury News, And the small markets shall inherit the NHL.
When The Commish - Gary Bettman - announces his new collective-bargaining agreement with the players in the coming weeks, most of the revenue producers are going to be unhappy.
The word filtering down from both sides of the discussions is that nothing in the new deal works to their advantage. Then again, the lockout was never about them. It was about the small-market clubs.
When the CBA is finally announced, most big-market owners and general managers will put on a good face before the cameras. Behind closed doors, however, the Flyers, Toronto, New York Rangers, Colorado and Detroit will feel some sense of outrage that an entire season was lost so that a handful of clubs could obtain a salary cap well within their revenue range - even if they have no intention of ever approaching it.
Most high-revenue clubs virtually print money to spend money. They also happen to have the highest payrolls. And yes, these same clubs are partially responsible for the mess hockey finds itself in. Yet they prop up the rest of the league's finances so teams like Nashville can join the fray, on...

nhl- The Trickle down Effect

from Slam, It may only be an inch but it has much bigger ramifications on and off the ice.
When the National Hockey League resumes play sometime this year, goaltenders will return to face new rules governing the size of their equipment. The significant number is the loss of one inch in pad width, from 12 to 11.
Blockers will also be smaller by an inch while the diameter of catching gloves will be smaller by two inches.
The objective is obvious. The NHL wants more scoring and goaltending equipment has grown over the years like someone on a not-so-successful diet.
But the rule change will have great implications off the ice. It will force significant changes for those who manufacture goaltending equipment. Depending on how quickly leagues follow suit with the NHL, there will come a time when minor hockey parents and organizations will eventually have to use equipment that adheres to changes in the NHL....more...

nhl- No longer if but When

via the NY Post, The long slog continues, but the end of the NHL lockout is now more "when" than "if."
A host of meat-and-potatoes issues, things like free agency, arbitration and benefits — each a potential sticking point, but apparently not so far — will be back on the table when the league and the Players Association resume collective bargaining Monday in Toronto.
The major issue that cost hockey the 2004-05 season — a method of payroll limit — appears to have been solved, or at least by-passed until the less-contentious questions are settled, giving both sides real parameters from which to give and take.
The league said the sides spent some 28 hours in talks this week that wrapped up yesterday, with NHL VP Bill Daly and counsel Bob Batterman squaring off with PA senior director Ted Saskin and counsel John McCambridge. The sides are expected to remain in the "small group" format next week.
There were reports that preparations are being made, in hope of a settlement, to conduct a draft in August.

Friday, June 17, 2005

nba- Trying to avoid Lockout

Ric Bucher of ESPN reporting NBA and NBPA are working towards an agreement, both sides giving and taking.
Hopefully will have a proposal written up within a week, then present it to both sides for approval.

nhl- CBA Secrecy

from The Maven and MSG Network, The good news in hockey’s Civil War is that peace talks will continue in Toronto on Monday.
“We’re slogging through,” one of the negotiators tells me, “and we’ll be at it the same way when he return to Canada.”
Judging by the lid of secrecy placed on negotiating “progress,” I get the sense that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is being more cautious about leaks than General Dwight D. Eisenhower was on June 5, 1944, 24 hours before D-Day.
Naturally, the leaks have trickled through anyhow; so many, in fact, that it’s difficult to discern fact from fiction when it comes to calling an accurate date for the ice version of Armistice Day.
Two of my best sources insist that, for all intents and purposes, “essentially” the deal is done and an agreement will be announced either just before or after the July 4 holiday.
“That explains the air of secrecy,” my source insists. “The owners don’t want to come out and say anything at this point because it might antagonize the players.”
Reports – all unconfirmed -- are circulating about potential dates for a Draft Lottery (mid-July) with the actual Entry Draft slated for Ottawa around the second week in August.
While these signs all are encouraging – if not deceptive – two of my other sources are quick to quell the euphoria.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” a league official tells me. “Plenty of details still have to be ironed out.”
Likewise, a team vice-president insists that it is premature to conclude hostilities have ended.
All the NHL will tell us is that “The parties met for twenty-eight hours over four days and will resume on Monday.” on...

nhl- NHLPA Statement

NEW YORK (June 17, 2005): At the conclusion of Friday’s meeting in New York, National Hockey League Players' Association Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“We resumed small group meetings with the league this week and spent the better part of four full days discussing a wide range of issues.Further small group meetings are scheduled starting Monday in Toronto.”

nhl- Lockout News

via TSN, The National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association finished another series of collective bargaining sessions on Friday.
The two sides met for 28 hours over four days and plan to resume talks Monday in Toronto.
While there is still some painstaking work to be done to get a completed CBA, planning has to be started on some post lockout events that will happen soon after the new CBA is reached, such as the NHL Entry Draft. Sources say the very tentative date for the entry draft is August 6, although that could still change.
The NHL is apparently exploring the feasibility of staging a scaled down version of the draft in Ottawa, which was supposed to play host to the event on June 23. But the draft could also end up in the ballroom of a New York City hotel. Wherever it's held, it's expected only the top-end prospects will be in attendance and that NHL clubs will make their selections from their own cities by phone or internet.
Everything is still very much up in the air, though steps are being taken to start planning this event and others.

nhl- NHL Statement

NEW YORK (June 17, 2005) -- Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association today concluded another series of collective bargaining sessions. The parties met for 28 hours over four days and will resume talks Monday in Toronto.

nhl- Leafs Lunch

They had a writer on from CP, Pierre LeBrun, and he said Gary and Bob are still running the show even though they may not be in the room at all times.
Of course, there are disagreements, but those are worked out and if things were as bad as they are written, Bob would have been gone long ago. Said Goodenow will sign-off on the deal. Goodenow did warn the players that if they did not want a cap deal, they would have to sit out 2 years but many players did not want to wait that long.
LeBrun says prevailing wisdom is all 30 teams will get a shot at #1 draft pick, but it will be weighted.
Pierre mentioned there is not one single issue still out there, but a lot of give and take being done, so an issue could be wrapped up today, but they may go back to it on Monday, etc...

psa- Support Soo Hockey

On June 9, the Soo Michigan Hockey Association (SMHA) brought north the unique "hockey chopper" custom built by Detroit Choppers - with an estimated value of over $75,000 - which could be won by any hockey or chopper fan for the price of a raffle ticket.
This chopper has strong ties to the NHL Red Wings team in many ways including a gas tank filled with signatures of Nicklas Lindstrom, Doug Brown, Dino Ciccarelli, Darren McCarty, Derian Hatcher, Kevin Hatcher, Pat Verbeek, Jason Williams and Ken Kal.
More information and more pictures.

nhl- Ed Snider Talks

Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider appeared on the Thursday, June 16 edition of Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live. Snider appeared along with Philadelphia Daily News sportswriters Rich Hofmann and Bob Cooney and the show’s host Michael Barkann.

The following is a recap of the discussion:
Barkann: Bob Clarke was on the show recently and he said that the Flyers can have as many as eight players from the Phantoms make the Flyers' roster next season. That has to sound pretty encouraging for you.
Snider: “It is very encouraging. It helps us with whatever happens with the salary cap because these young players will just be starting out.”
Barkann: That is assuming there is going to be a season. Is there going to be a season?
Snider: “There is going to be a season. Negotiations are ongoing. You know as much as I do. The bottom line is they (NHL and NHLPA) are meeting six to eight hours a day. They are not wasting each other’s time. Something is going to happen and I have my fingers crossed that something is going to happen soon.”
Hofmann: Have they really not kept you guys (owners) informed?
Snider: “They have kept us informed talking about general things. They are knocking it out one day at a time and trying to agree on everything. You never know when things will blow up, but we are hoping we can get a deal done and everybody signs it.”
Barkann: Are you like many of the fans, meaning you just want to hear when an agreement has finally been reached or are you constantly involved in hearing reports?
Snider: “I try to get as much information as I can. But there really is not a whole lot of information coming out. They are keeping it very tight because they do not want any leaks and the problems caused by leaks.”

Heads Up

  • ESPN & ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer, on possibly reconsidering an extension of ESPN’s NHL TV deal: “We’re still willing to talk to them. There’s a drop-dead date, but it’s not looming.”
  • Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver said Wednesday that the NFL “will not get into guaranteed contracts” like the NBA and MLB. Weaver: “Absolutely I agree with that, our system is fair.”
  • Islanders GM Mike Milbury will open his eBay auction at noon ET on a trio of exclusive dinners to be held in August that will feature Milbury and an Islander exec at Milbury’s private table at the Garden City Hotel on Long Island. The winning bidders will receive dinner for two and two luxury suite passes for an Islanders game next season at Nassau Coliseum. Proceeds from the auction will benefit China’s youth hockey programs.

nhl- Datsyuk Update

from mlive, The agent for Pavel Datsyuk said the talented center intends to remain a Detroit Red Wing.
Gary Greenstin said a recent report out of Russia claiming that Datsyuk had signed a binding one-year, $2.5 million contract with Moscow Dynamo for next season is incorrect.
"Our first priority is the Detroit Red Wings," Greenstin said on Thursday. "When the union and the NHL have a deal (ending the lockout), I will start talking to (Wings general manager) Ken Holland."...more...

nhl- Meeting again Today

via Sportsnet, It won't be a lack of effort that keeps the NHL and its players from reaching a new deal.
Bill Daly and Ted Saskin met for several hours on Thursday in New York and will resume CBA discussions early Friday morning. (NHL lawyer, Batterman and NHLPA lawyer, McCambridge also took part and will be in the discussion on Friday.)
After weeks of inactivity during the beginning of the labour dispute, the two sides have met with relative regularity since the season was cancelled in February. A rumour has surfaced of late pointing to the possibility of a July 1 agreement, which would be fitting for all Canadian hockey fans considering the date is also Canada Day.

nhl- Blues for Sale

from St. Louis Today, Citing heavy financial losses and concerns about the future, St. Louis Blues owners Bill and Nancy Laurie have decided to sell the National Hockey League team and its long-term lease on the Savvis Center. An official announcement will be made Friday morning.
Bill and Nancy Laurie were unavailable for comment. But a source close to the Lauries who is familiar with the planned sale said the family's desire is to find a local buyer to keep the Blues in St. Louis.
The Lauries have retained Game Plan LLC, a Boston-based firm, to conduct the search for potential buyers. In recent years, Game Plan successfully found new owners for baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers, the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics, and the NHL's Ottawa Senators.
The news comes the same day that Savvis Inc. announced that it is withdrawing from the naming agreement on the downtown sports arena that is the site of Blues hockey and other on...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

nhl- All Knowing

It is a well known fact that Gary Bettman likes to keep all of the pictures taken of him. He also likes to write notes on each of them and recently some of the pictures were made public.
The picture below was taken in June, 2002 during the SCF at JLA (oops, pic is from Continental Airlines Arena). I wonder when he actually wrote that little blurb?

nhl- Deal is not a deal until it is Done

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, You can't begin any discussion of the NHL labour situation without the usual disclaimers and provisos, that a new CBA isn't done until it's all done, that things could still blow up, yada, yada, yada.
As true as all that may be, this process finally looks as though it's headed towards the homestretch. Mind you, all people really want to know at this point is when is the lockout over; when will the NHL and NHL Players' Association announce game on?
Well, if you're in one of those end-of-lockout office pools, the end of the month, in or around June 30th or July 1st, looks like the best-case scenario for an official announcement, and it could conceivably drag on later than that. But the best guess from both sides is that another solid two weeks of work could, or should, produce a new, complete CBA.
It's a painstaking process because this time around, unlike the lockout of 1994-95, the NHL will not formally announce it is over until the league has a detailed, completed CBA document fully agreed to by the NHLPA. That means they are drafting the actual document as we speak, so when they call the news conference for June 30th or July 1st or July 7th or 14th or whenever it is, the only unfinished business will be ratification for each side....continued...

USA Hockey says no to Tag-up

from, While the NHL ponders revising its rules to allow tag-ups to negate offside calls, the governing body of U.S. youth hockey has turned thumbs down.
Creativity would be choked, a USA Hockey panel of experts concluded.
Tag-ups were tried in scrimmages during the recent NHL research and development camp in Toronto, resulting in fewer whistles, and consideration will be given to making the change before the league restarts.
Such a revision would allow a player who crosses the opponent's blue-line before the puck to retreat from the zone and re-enter it, keeping play alive. Dump-ins multiply with the tag-up in force. There might be fewer stoppages in play but there's also less creativity.
"We like to see players handling the puck and making decisions with the puck," says John Hynes, a coach in the U.S. development program in Ann Arbor, Mich., in explaining his group's rejection of tag-ups. "Any rule that would promote giving the puck up wouldn't really help the development of players." on...

nhl- Handle with Care

Stan Fischler has two articles today. His BlueLines and this one:
from MSG Network, That precious carton containing the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement immediately should be labelled, FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE!
It should not be seen anywhere near the negotiations which continue Thursday and Friday in New York amid muted optimism.
"We're going to get this done," one of the negotiators assures me. Except, he didn't say when.
Even though the new CBA hasn't even been fully crafted by league and union leaders, it has for the past month been used, bruised and abused by the media and those special interests -- as in NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow -- attempting to gain a last-minute edge.
Despite an unprecedented aura of "secrecy" blanketing the ongoing negotiations, reports circulating about its form and completion run the gamut from (Pick one of the following) on...

nhl- Drafting the CBA

I just spoke with representatives from two major sponsors of the Detroit Red Wings.
They feel very confident that the CBA is in place. They have been told the legal side of the CBA is being drafted and expect an official announcement in 2-3 weeks.

nhl- NHL Talk

from 640Toronto, Today and tomorrow's CBA talks will be just four people, Bill Daly, John McCambridge, Ted Saskin and Bob Batterman. There will be no more full meetings before the CBA is finished, an estimate on its conclusion is "day to day". It could take a week or two weeks, just depends of course on any snags but things are certainly looking good for the NHL.
Yesterday's announcement that the PA will not seek certification in BC should be seen as a good sign because both sides will continue to talk about the CBA today as opposed to having members in Vancouver preparing for the four day hearing. The NHLPA did say last night that they will eventually seek certification in BC, just not now. It makes sense to certify, might as well cover your own backyard in the event of a work stoppage in the future....more...

nhl- A Non-Believer

Somebody still doesn't believe!

from the Old Colony Memorial, If the talks between the NHL and its player' union continue to be as dismal as they have been it looks as though next season could be lost too. I'll be honest the NHL was never really high on my list of things to watch, so I'm not missing out now nor will I miss out next year. But being a sports lover from Boston, to not hear about the Bruins even if just in passing seems odd.

nhl- Small groups meeting Today

NHL & NHLPA are meeting in small groups today in NYC.
Word is some major advertisers and sponsors were recently updated on the status of negotiations and that they will allocate their ad dollars to the NHL for next season.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

nhl- NHL approves sale of Mighty Ducks

via the LA Times, After spending the last few months accumulating employees, Henry and Susan Samueli now have a hockey team. The NHL board of governors unanimously approved their purchase of the Mighty Ducks on Wednesday.
The Samuelis, whose company also operates the Arrowhead Pond, had agreed to buy the Ducks from the Walt Disney Co. as part of a $75-million deal. The board of governors, the representatives from the NHL's 30 teams, needed to sign off on the sale.
Henry Samueli, co-founder of Broadcom, and his wife are not expected to take an active role in the day-to-day team operations. It is believed that they will explore changes, including the team's nickname. Mighty Ducks was in the titles of three Disney movies.
Tim Ryan, president of Anaheim Arena Management, will become team president as well, and Bob Wagner, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Pond, will become the team's executive vice president for business affairs. Brian Burke, former general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, has been hired as the Ducks' general manager and is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Monday. He is expected to meet with hockey operations staff members next week.
Al Coates, the team's vice president of business operations and interim general manager, has a year left on his contract and may remain with the team in another capacity. Contracts have expired on other hockey operations employees, as well as the coaching staff.

nhl- CBA coming to a Close

from Spector and Fox Sports, The feeling among hockey fans and pundits that the NHL's long labor war with the NHLPA may be soon drawing to a close grows with each passing day.
Pierre Lebrun of Canadian Press on Monday reported of "slow and steady progress" toward a resolution, with a salary cap "linked league-wide to revenues with an upper and lower limit on team-by-team payrolls" having been established for the most part. CP also reported of "headway in the areas of free agency, qualifying offers, salary arbitration, entry-level contracts, drug testing, rule changes and Olympic participation."
The possibility of NHLers participating in the 2006 Winter Olympics has been touted by some pundits as a "concession" by the league to the NHLPA, since NHL commissioner Gary Bettman apparently didn't want the first season after the lockout to be interrupted by the Olympics.
Yet this can scarcely be considered a major concession, for as blogger Hockey Rodent observes, having NHL players performing on the world stage at no cost to NHL owners cannot be considered a bad thing.
Somehow I doubt the players are looking upon this as the face-saving "bone" they wanted the owners to toss to them.
Meanwhile, criticism of the NHLPA is mounting, aimed specifically at executive director Bob Goodenow and his handling of negotiations.
There is talk of the PA in retreat, of having caved on key issues such as linkage and a salary cap, which the association previously claimed the players would never on...

nhl- Bettman silent on Olympics

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, They were all there to talk about Canada's next men's Olympic hockey team: Bob Nicholson, the president of Hockey Canada; Wayne Gretzky, the team's putative general manager; Kevin Lowe, his assistant; Pat Quinn, the head coach in one scenario and Marc Habscheid, the head coach in a second scenario.
They were all there to answer questions, everybody except the one man who could actually shed some light on what exactly was going on with the National Hockey League's Olympic participation — commissioner Gary Bettman....continued...

nhl- Remaining CBA Issues

from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, After years of posturing, the two sides are finally working hard to negotiate a deal. Every indication is that major progress is being made.
Are there still sticky issues on the table? You bet.
Here are just some of the issues the two sides must still iron out before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place:
  • The lost contract year
  • Applying the salary cap
  • Buyouts
  • Bonus clauses
  • Entry Draft
  • Rookie wage scales
  • Qualifying offers/arbitration
  • Free agency
Read on for all the details.

Hockey Brawl Tourney

from CTV, Organizers of the first Battle of the Hockey Enforcers, which will put 12 players on the ice simply to slug it out, say they will move the event to Prince George, B.C. after legal wrangling halted plans in Winnipeg.
Promoter Darryl Wolski told reporters Wednesday that the unique hockey-fighting battle will now take place in Prince George, B.C., on Aug. 27, despite warnings that the event may be illegal.
"We honestly believe this is the beginning of a new spectacle," Wolski said during a Toronto news conference.
The event will see 16 former NHL, semi-pro, university and junior hockey "tough guys" suit up and then pair off at centre ice for a series of short brawls....more...

nhl- Certification fight Adjourned

VANCOUVER (CP) - A B.C. Labour Relations Board hearing into whether the National Hockey League Players' Association can be certified as a union in B.C. will not go ahead this weekend.
"We have agreed to the league's request to adjourn the proceedings," Ian Pulver, NHLPA associate counsel, said in an e-mail Wednesday.

nhl- Hint from Ilitch

Last night Mike Ilitch was being interviewed on the Detroit Tigers pre-game show and was asked about the CBA.
Ilitch said we will be playing in the fall. He was then asked if the players have agreed to a salary cap. Mike said he could get in trouble so he should not say anything more but told the interviewer, "You are an experienced sports journalist and basically you have answered your own question."

nhl- Reduced Roster Size

Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch today stated he has heard talk that NHL team roster size will be downsized. He noted that if they are not talking about it, then they are not as smart as he thought they were.

nhl- John Madden moving to NBC

from AP viaFox Sports, John Madden is joining NBC as a game analyst for the network's newly acquired "Sunday Night Football," a network source told The Associated Press on on...

nhl- Bettman's Thoughts

Recently Gary Bettman met with a large financial organization and discussed his role as commissioner; how he judges success, the culture of hockey, the recent lockout and key leadership qualities.
Thanks to a reader of Breaking Sports for passing this on.

Q: How do you judge your success in any given year?
GARY BETTMAN: Sports franchises are interesting. They get valued the way Internet companies used to, before the bubble burst. What are the revenues? And the little secret is because, other than the NFL, most franchises don't have a bottom line that would interest anybody. People make investments in sports teams because they think they can turn it around, they think it's a good asset value, to express civic pride. There are lots of reasons that go into the mix. But at some point, the economics don't work to a sufficiently large degree that it becomes untenable. And that's where we are.
The way we judge ourselves is our fan base. Our fans are what make us tick. Tell us how well we're connecting. 10 years ago, we drew 14 million fans to our games. The last four years, we drew 20 million fans to our games. So there's been a dramatic increase. Are our games entertaining? Are people watching them on television? How good is our exposure? How much does the media cover us? And how many fans do we have?

Q: A lot of what you talk about is the development of a culture that's particular to your league. And therefore that community is an important one, and the spirit of that community. So it must have been hard for you to make a decision to go for a lockout. Was it hard? And how did you make that decision?
BETTMAN: The answer is, of course, it was hard. But we all have to make hard decisions. For the reasons you talk about, culture, the people associated with the game, the game itself, it was painful more than it was hard. Because, you know, it's hard to say you're shutting down your business. And our business runs on a seasonal basis. So we've decided we're not going to play an entire season. So it was hard on the emotional level.
From a business level – and you have to separate the two – it was, unfortunately, very easy. We lost less money this year than we did the last year we played. So it cost us less to stay in existence even though we weren't playing, than to play under the old collective bargaining agreement. We had too many clubs that were losing too much money. And it was also impacting the quality of our product, because we don't have enough teams that are fully competitive. And we owe it to our fans, our consumers, to do better than that.

nhl- It is official, equipment Changing

from the Toronto Sun via Slam, The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association have the first tangible proof of renewed co-operation -- an official deal on reduced goaltending equipment.
The truce is not part of a new collective bargaining agreement, but because it was jointly agreed upon and time is of the essence for manufacturers, those companies were yesterday informed by fax to proceed with the changes.
Pads will be reduced to 11 inches in width from 12 and blockers will be cut in height to 15 inches from 16. The width of blockers will remain eight inches. Three inches will come off of the circumference of catching gloves.
Pants will be reduced to 10 inches from 11 at the front and a goalie with a 34-inch waist will not be allowed to climb into a pair of triple XLs.
It already was decided to go with tighter fitting sweaters. The league will doggedly be looking for on...

nhl- CBA Target Day, July 1st

via Sportsnet, Sources close to the negotiation tell Sportsnet the two sides are moving in the right direction towards ending the NHL lockout and confirm the possibility of a resolution by July 1.
However, the assumption that much of what is being discussed now amounts to "details," is inaccurate. The negotiation still consists of a lot more and remains potentially fragile.
Although the process seems to be progressing at a crawl, a source inside the meetings confirms the negotiation is being lawyered simultaneous to the negotiation. An effort that has been incredibly time consuming, but one that will expedite ratification once a new CBA is agreed to.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that both the NHL and the NHLPA are committed to ending this dispute in time to return the game to North American fans this Fall.
The NHL and NHLPA wrapped up 12 hours of talks over the past two days and will resume negotiations later this week.
The two sides met in small groups from noon EDT to 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday and from 9 a.m. EDT to 1:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Toronto.
They've set aside Wednesday for internal discussion before resuming the process either Thursday or Friday.

nhl- Union must get input from Players

via the NY Post, Optimists are hoping the NHL will be back in business by Independence Day. There's just that little matter of both sides' rank-and-file ratifying the deal that's now being hammered out.
The give-and-take being conducted privately among select negotiators for the league and the Players Association went another four hours yesterday, after a full day Monday.
Both sides are holding internal meetings today and are expected to resume talks later this week, perhaps tomorrow.
It is believed the sides have found common ground on the salary cap, the issue that cancelled the 2004-05 season. But questions of revenue sharing, free agency, arbitration, 2004-05 contracts and a hundred other issues are involved, each requiring agreement, often by adjusting other previously agreed issues.
The union has not been updating its membership on the dealings on a daily basis, and there could be backlash if a proposal is put forth without adequate input from the rank and file.

nhl- Dome rips hardline Owners

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Tie Domi, who did not want to address the possibility he may have played his final game as a Toronto Maple Leaf, nevertheless had plenty to say about the hardline and small-market National Hockey League club owners who have battled his friend, Leafs part-owner Larry Tanenbaum, during the lockout.
"You look at a guy like Jacobs, for example, he had one of the jewels of the United States and he just let it go," Domi said. "He did nothing to improve his team, did nothing to market his teams.
"The same with the guy in Chicago [Wirtz]. He doesn't show his games on TV. How much do these guys really care about their teams and the game and about winning?"
"The guy in Los Angeles [Philip] Anschutz, he probably doesn't even know his players' names," Domi said. "Larry [Tanenbaum] knows every player's name, and his wife's name and his kids' names. It's pretty special to be part of this group."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

nhl- What other Surpises

Yvon Pedneault was just on RDS(French version of TSN) and stated the weighted draft idea is gone. Each team will have a single chance at the #1 pick.
I am also wondering what other changes will be made. This would be a perfect time to change the divisions and get the Red Wings into the East. We also may see a 72 game schedule, more division games and who knows what else.
Besides rule and equipment changes, what would you like to see done to improve the NHL?

racing- No More Danica

from the Orlando Sentinel, No more Danica, OK?
Not until this appears before her name.
First-place finisher
It's nice Patrick has become such a media darling because women don't often get this kind of attention in sports. Last weekend at the Bombardier Learjet 500 in Texas, there were 750 credentialed media and 102,000 fans -- both race records.
But the Danica frenzy only confirms what it really takes for female athletes to attain mainstream popularity.
read on...

nhl- CBA talks to resume Thursday or Friday

via CP, The NHL and NHL Players' Association wrapped up 12 hours of talks and will resume negotiations later this week.
The two sides met in small groups from noon EDT to 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday and from 9 a.m. EDT to 1:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Toronto.
They've set aside Wednesday for international discussion before resuming the process either Thursday or Friday.
The economic framework is largely in place, based on a salary cap, but more work remains to be done. A deal could be struck within the next two to three weeks.

nhl- Stan talking Star Wars, I Think

I never have watched a second of any Star Wars movies, but I think Stan is somehow comparing the NHL and NHLPA to the movie.

From Stan Fischler and MSG Network, The irresistible force – disguised as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman – has hit the immovable object, otherwise known as Bob Goodenow and his NHL Players’ Association.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!! The “immovable object” has moved.
Or, should I say “plummeted.”
Whenever the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed – not likely before July; maybe not ‘til November – the hockey union will have retreated from virtually every firmly entrenched position it held last September.
Salary Cap. Linkage. Arbitration.
You name the issue and you can bet that Goodenow & Co. has capitulated on it. Put in military terms; the NHLPA is in disorderly retreat.
As CBA talks laboriously continue in Toronto it appears that Goodenow’s allies either have surrendered or, at the very least, have been on...

nhl- Vinny plays Beliveau

from the Tampa Tribune, Locked-out Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier may have found a summer gig.
The World Cup MVP was chosen to portray his childhood idol, former Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, in an upcoming movie about Maurice "The Rocket'' Richard. Other NHLers involved include Ian Laperierre, Stephane Quintal, Mike Ricci, Sean Avery, Pascal Dupuis and Phillipe Suave.
The movie is to be filmed in Montreal and Quebec and should be released in Quebec theaters in November. However, because of production delays, Lecavalier may have to opt out.
Lecavalier, who wears No. 4 on his jersey in honor of Beliveau, also had a cameo appearance along with Brad Richards in "The Punisher,'' which was filmed in Tampa.

nhl- Leafs Lunch Talk

Goodenow and Linden are in Vancouver today dealing with the NHLPA certification process in B.C.
Saskin and Gartner are at the CBA meeting.

nhl- Team Payroll

TSN has team-by-team list of players who would be under contract for the 2005-2006 NHL season, along with a 24 percent rollback in salaries and restructured payrolls should they be implemented.
You can start playing GM, but remember no CBA yet.

nhl- BOG Discussion

from 640Toronto, The reason why the meetings shift this week from Toronto to New York is because Bettman needs to be back in New York on Wednesday for the Board of Governors to vote on the sale of Anaheim. I imagine that they will discuss the CBA as well. Once the sale is approved, Anaheim will choose a new nickname and announce the signing of Brian Burke as their new GM....more...

This & That

  • USA Today reports that ESPN will announce today that former “SportsCenter” anchor Keith Olbermann, whose ’97 departure from the network “wasn’t amicable,” is returning to ESPN to host a weekly program on ESPN Radio. The one-hour show, which begins in August, will air Friday afternoons from ESPN Radio 1050 AM in N.Y., rather than ESPN’s HQs in Bristol, Connecticut.
  • ESPN’s Peter Gammons said of D’Rays manager Lou Piniella’s status with the team following his criticism of ownership Sunday, “There will be a meeting today and it will be discussed: Will they do a buyout now or will they do a buyout at the end of the season? My guess is they do some sort of buyout right now. But you can be assured, to let Lou out of that contract, he’s going to have to sign a non-compete clause with the Yankees through at least the ’06 season.
  • ESPN announced that Lou Holtz will join the net as a college football studio analyst, appearing on ESPNews’ “ADT Coaches Spotlight,” ESPN2’s “College GameDay” and “SportsCenter”

nhl- Preds Net Worth

from the Tennessean, Metro lawyers are reviewing whether the Nashville Predators are living up to part of their contract that protects taxpayers if the team falls on hard times.
The contract requires the team to have a "tangible net worth" of about $28 million or to get a third party to guarantee the amount....more...

nhl- How much Longer

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, At this point, NHL people are expecting it will take at least another two weeks to wrap up the rest of the collective agreement.
Both sides are still working on issues such as the precise language of the link between payrolls and revenues, salary arbitration, qualifying offers, drug testing, the status of 2004-05 contracts and free agency.
Once that is completed, and a new collective agreement is announced, the league's general managers will be extremely busy.
Not only will they have to conduct an entry draft, but it's estimated only about 288 of the NHL's 700-plus players will be under contract.
The general managers will have to sign that large group of free agents and do it under a brand new set of rules, while adhering to the salary cap.

Monday, June 13, 2005

nhl- The CBA affect on Rosters

from Spector and Fox Sports, If rumored changes to the qualification age for unrestricted free agency actually become part of the NHL's next collective bargaining agreement, teams could be forced to change their methods for stocking their rosters.
Under the previous CBA, a player could qualify to become an unrestricted free agent at age 31. There's speculation the new agreement could see that age qualification drop to 30, then 29 and eventually 28.
Previously, big-market free spenders tended to be the bidders for the big name UFA players. That may not change under the new CBA, particularly when those teams can now bid for younger talent still in their prime, rather than aging stars whose reputations, rather than their actual statistics, were sometimes the driving force in establishing their market value.
This could also mean that small-market clubs, traditionally those pillaged for their best players once they qualified for UFA status, might continue to struggle to retain those players. Worse, a lowered age qualification means teams will hold those players' rights for a shorter period.
Under the previous CBA, a player's rights were retained by their club from the time they were drafted at age 18 until they qualified for UFA status at 31, barring a trade or outright release, for 13 seasons.
But should that UFA age be reduced to 28 in the near future, suddenly those clubs will only hold those players' rights for 10 seasons. Since the average NHLer, depending on his development, usually doesn't make the big league until his early 20s, his team might now only hold his rights for anywhere between four and eight seasons....more...

nhl- What does Sergei Think

Brian Burke will probably be announced as the new GM of the Ducks very soon, but what will Sergei Fedorov think of it.
One of Burke's off-the-cuff comments may need to be explained to Duck center Sergei Fedorov. Burke had Fedor Fedorov as a player in Vancouver, and when Sergei Fedorov became a free agent in 2003, Burke was asked whether he would try to sign him. "We already have a Fedorov," Burke replied. "That's one Fedorov too many." Sergei Fedorov has three seasons left on a five-year, $40-million contract.

nhl- Plugging Away

from CP and Sportsnet, The NHL and NHL Players' Association continued to plug away at a new deal with another small group session Monday, making slow and steady progress towards finally ending the ninth-month lockout.
While the economic framework is largely in place - based on a salary cap - there remains enough work to drag this out another two weeks or so, according to sources.
The basic structure of the salary cap - linked league-wide to revenues with an upper and lower limit on team payrolls - is mostly ironed out. The two sides have made headway in the areas of free agency, qualifying offers, salary arbitration, entry-level contracts, drug testing, rule changes and Olympic participation.
On the Olympic issue, the union appears to have scored a victory, with the league leaning towards participation in the Turin Games next February, although that is not signed, sealed and delivered just yet.
The two sides are narrowing in on a collective bargaining agreement that the league believes will bring competitive balance, narrowing the gap between the have and have-nots.
The tedious process of agreeing on the language of the document still awaits and that's no small task. The NHL announced a deal 10 years ago, in a hurry to salvage the 1994-95 season, and was later dismayed at how some parts of the agreement ended up sounding different then what it believed was first agreed to.
All the I's will be dotted and T's crossed this time around before a news conference is called.
Expect an entry draft to be held at the first opportune time after that....more...

nhl- It is coming Back

from the Sporting News, It's coming -- like Christmas, only sooner. Those hardworking negotiators have been spending more than their previous six hours a day at the negotiating table. Progress is being made, and although the NHL and its players association could hit a roadblock, it appears a new deal could be reached within the next month. Maybe even this week.
Then what?...continued...

nhl- BOG Meeting

BOG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in NYC. Main topic, how will the owners take to the revenue sharing plan that has been discussed in the CBA meetings the last few weeks and a review of the CBA contract.
Owners from Toronto, Detroit, Philadelphia, Colorado, Dallas, etc ., will be writing checks to the low revenus teams. How long will this go on, what percentage and other parameters will be discussed.

mlb- Hoopla Surrounding All Star Game

Of interest for Detroit area fans:

It’s only fitting that much of the sponsorship activation for MLB’s July 12 All-Star Game in Detroit involves automobiles, with MasterCard and new MLB sponsor General Motors leading the way. But there are also plenty of other plans in the works, all of it beginning to come together in the month leading up the game.
MasterCard is tweaking its usual “Hit It Here” promotion to award autos as prizes. Instead of a random ticket holder at the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game winning cash if a player hits an outfield sign on the fly, this year the winner gets a new car from MLB partner GM.
With an 11-year, $650 million sponsorship and content deal signed last October, XM Satellite Radio is looking at the All-Star Game “as our coming-out party,” according to Howard Jacobs, XM’s new senior vice president of partnership marketing.
Along with ads during the television broadcast of the game, XM has taken title sponsorship to Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game between top minor leaguers, and will share branding on 1,200 street banners with John Hancock.
XM will have street teams providing samples of its product in and around the FanFest and Comerica Park. It will broadcast live from various locations around the festivities and have a “listening lounge” at the FanFest.
Meanwhile, Taco Bell will brand the ticket holders/lanyards for the Taco-Bell-sponsored Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game on July 10.
Fans at the July 11 Gatorade-titled workout day and Century 21-titled Home Run Derby receive a Century-21-emblazoned “Fan Dana,” an accordion-like pocket fan.
For the All-Star Game, MLB co-opts a long-time Super Bowl tradition by placing souvenir cushions on every seat in Comerica Park. Chevy will have its brand on the outside, while XM will have a special offer stuffed inside, along with a MasterCard air freshener and a Pepsi ticket holder/lanyard.
MLB is adding a “Sponsor Zone” outside the ballpark where consumers can view and sample various sponsors’ products.

nhl- Agents talk about CBA

  • “This deal can be an outstanding deal,” said player agent Ritch Winter. “Whether we like it or not, that is what we’re being dealt and everyone in hockey just needs to rally together. If we increase revenues by 12 percent annually by working together, NHL revenues will double in six years. If we continue on that track for 12 years, NHL revenues will go from $2 billion to $8 billion.”
  • “Linkage works both ways,” said agent Tom Laidlaw. “If revenues go up, the player salaries will go up as well. In a perfect world as far as agents and players are concerned, there wouldn’t be any cap or linkage, but I think this is what we have, so let’s look at something positive and let’s work with it.”
    He said the turn in the negotiations came because “the players have shown they love playing hockey,” adding, “You would hope the ownership side doesn’t take advantage of that.”
  • “There has to be a new relationship of both sides having a genuine feeling they will work together to grow the game, and that simply doesn’t exist right now,” said Don Meehan, the agent for NHLPA President Trevor Linden. Linden is widely thought to be the key figure now in the negotiations, advocating a moderate stance and calling for future cooperation.
  • “The key to me is how revenue will be grown over the next five years,” said agent Mike Gillis, “how the brand is going to be promoted and, most importantly, how television is going to be looked at in terms of being the most important factor in moving the game forward.”
    Gillis said a faction of owners has never understood how important television is to the league and stood in the way of adopting the best broadcasting practices.
    “I think those things have to be addressed on an ongoing basis,” he said. “That’s the most important issue that would tie into a linkage-based system.”

nhl- Getting to the Finish Line

from The Maven and MSG Network, The Triple Crown is over with but certainly not the racing season; hockey-style.
If ever there was a breathtaking, homestretch gallop, it begins this week when the NHL and NHL Players’ Association begin pounding toward their “finish line,” otherwise disguised as a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Make no mistake, the race is on with approximately two weeks remaining to whip through complicated and contentious details.
In the eyes of several league executives July 1st is the figurative finish line. The pace of meetings this week will go a long way toward determining whether the CBA race will be won.
For other NHL folks, the finish line could be as late as July 16 – but not a day later.
“If we can’t get it done by July 1st,” one high NHL club executive tells me, “it will make it very tough to market our game for next season.”
Mind you, he didn’t say the word “Impossible,” but there certainly was that implication in his voice.
Others agree that July 1 would be preferable but contend that a deal by mid-July still would allow for a hurry-up rallying of advertisers, ticket sales and broadcast business people, among other challenges necessary to re-start the on...

nhl- CBA Talks

Both sides are meeting today in Toronto in small group sessions. If any information becomes available, it will be posted.

nhl- Canucks post help Wanted

from the Vancouver Province, The Vancouver Canucks are posting "help wanted" ads in local newspapers, delighting most everyone who makes a living off hockey.
"It's awesome. It sounds like good news for everybody around here," said Ken Halley, an employee at Dix Barbecue and Brewery on Beatty Street. "It's the best news we've heard since everything happened. The season looks like it will be a go. Why else would the Canucks be hiring people if they weren't going to have a season?" asked Halley yesterday....more...

Real essence of Sports

Not much NHL news today, but perhaps every fan, athlete, coach, general manager and owner should read about Ryan Belflower.

The chant began late in the fourth quarter in the basketball gym at Clovis East High. The students started it first, clapping their hands in unison and pounding the bleachers with their feet. It didn't take long for the parents to pick it up, too. The noise grew until the whole gym seemed to shake. "We want Ryno. We want Ryno."
Pacing the sideline, coach Tim Amundsen felt himself getting goose bumps. Less than 4 minutes remained in the game, and Clovis East was winning comfortably over rival Buchanan High. Now Amundsen had a decision to make.
It was senior night, the last time Ryan Belflower would wear his home uniform. Everyone in the gym knew his story.
Ryan was a special education student who would do anything to fit in and worked tirelessly to make that happen. His basketball career began as a ninth grader passing out balls to the girls' team. Then he hooked on with the boys' team, getting there every morning at 6:30, helping out in drills, running the practice clock and cleaning up afterward.
Now, he sat proudly on the sideline in his own white No. 12 uniform.
The crowd wanted him in the game. Amundsen wanted him in, too. But he was also afraid the slightly built 18-year-old might get hurt.
Amundsen considered all this as he walked toward Ryan and patted him on the shoulder. Off came the warmup jacket, the buzzer blew and Ryan kind of half hopped, half ran onto the court, his left leg trailing slightly at an odd angle.
The noise was deafening as he ran out on the court.
read on and thanks to a reader of Breaking Sports for passing this article on to me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

nhl- A Rule(ing) Czar

I have a severe case of apprehension with the way the NHL is dealing with rule changes.
Input is coming from 30 general managers, numerous coaches and for all we know, friends and acquaintances of Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell.
How about this, hire someone who knows the game, isn't afraid of what other people think of him, knows how to implement changes and will handle the naysayers with an iron fist.
I say make the changes to the way the game is officiated and played as soon as the CBA is signed, Get everyone on the same page and move forward. Have some fortitude, make the nets bigger if you want, move the blue line if you want, get rid of the two line pass if you think it will help the game. We all know what is wrong with the way hockey is played these days, so start looking forward and make it happen.
Thirty teams are going to have 30 different ideas, if the gm's alone are allowed to implement changes, they are going to recommend the change that will benefit their team. I know everyone wants the league to flourish, but eventually coaches will realize they don't have a chance to win if they "play" by the new rules and will slowly tinker with changes and the game will be back to where it is today; BORING.
One person can make the changes work and I trust this man like no other with the future of the game, his name is Scotty Bowman.
Scotty is still under contract with the Red Wings but I am sure that could be worked out. A major stumbling block would be Bettman, he doesn't see eye to eye with Bowman because Scotty has told him a few things that Gary didn't want to hear. Scotty Bowman is the man for the job, will Bettman have the foresight to see that and get him involved is the tougher question.
Today the "Bring in Bowman" campaign starts; are you in or out?

nhl- The NHL must look Ahead

from the Buffalo News, Unless you are an avid hockey fan you may not remember which team won the Stanley Cup in 2004. It was Tampa Bay, an area that yawns at the sport under normal circumstances. The entire invasion of the U.S. South - placing teams in Dallas, Nashville, Miami, Phoenix, Carolina and Atlanta - should be seriously reconsidered. It would be a good idea if the NHL came to grips with the fact that it is still a niche sport, so why not go back to rabid hockey cities such as Winnipeg and Quebec City?
For that matter why not consider a European Division of the NHL? A large portion of today's NHL players come from Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine and Finland. Why not consider cities such as Moscow, Stockholm, Prague, Bratislava, Kiev and Helsinki for NHL franchises? ESPN may prefer to televise spelling bees and poker games instead of hockey, but media king Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox Network and newspapers over the globe, also owns one of the world's largest satellite TV operations. Murdoch has foresight.
Hockey may eventually rise in a healthier condition than anyone thought the whole article...

nhl- The NHLPA is Lost

from the Toronto Sun, The NHLPA stands as one of the great defenders of unfettered supply and demand.
That should be of great comfort to them in a week or so when we'll all be able to pick up one of those nice PA fleece pullovers for $1.99.
Right now, every player in the NHL must be asking how things went so bad, so fast.
Their union is in schism with Bob Goodenow and Ted Saskin in conflict over how and when to settle.
The resolve of the membership has evaporated. The public relations war has long since been lost.
They have sacrificed $1 million US in wages. The contract the players will eventually sign will be the biggest backtrack in the sport's history.
With the game's standing rivaling buffalo chip throwing in many American markets, the players have managed to bargain themselves a radically smaller portion of a dramatically tinier pie.
So how did they do it? How did the NHLPA, once a rival to baseball's union as the most militant and hard core among the big four sports, blow all this so badly.
Well, it made three on...

nhl- Shift by shift Changes

from the Bosto Globe, They opened up the ice, made the nets bigger, yanked out the red line, hacked some fat off the goalie equipment, and even dared to ruminate over the idea of going to full-time four-on-four.
Yes, Houston, there is a problem, an on-ice entertainment issue, and a lot of people connected to the National Hockey League finally are owning up to it. Very little was decided during last week's three-day research-and-development camp (a league first, by the way) just outside Toronto's airport. But at least it was a start, an earnest attempt to improve the game's E-value, and, like any patient in need of recovery, the first step in getting better has to be admitting the need for change.
''I vote yes for everything!" said an animated Mike Milbury, the former Bruins defenseman and longtime Islanders general manager. ''Admittedly, I'm one of the radicals. I want change. So whatever comes up, at whatever meeting, I always vote yes. I mean, come on guys, the last 20 years we've allowed the coaches to trap the hell out of the game. Spontaneity and passion -- the essence of the game -- have been lost. We have to find a way to get that back."...more...

nhl- What's Going on Gary?

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), It is time for Gary Bettman to take a pause from his duties as CEO of the owners and act for a moment as NHL commissioner.
Even as the league and the union continue to make steady progress hammering out the CBA that will deliver the end of the lockout that's just four days shy of nine months — C-section, anyone? — confusion dominates the NHL landscape.
Is an agreement imminent or isn't it? Have the cap numbers been agreed to or haven't they? Are the parties now dealing in specifics on the systems issues or are concepts still being debated? Can this possibly still fall through at the last moment?
Has the league been furnished fixed deadlines by advertisers and network sponsors? What's the implied pressure to complete the deal in order to begin the complicated relaunch process by the beginning of July so that 2005-06 can open on time? Once an agreement in principle is reached, will that be announced, or will the parties wait until they have a completed document to distribute for ratification, or will they wait for ratification itself?
A depleted hockey nation turns its lonely eyes and ears to Bettman, who, just as he was during the 24-hour Feb. 18-19 re-cancellation firestorm, is publicly invisible and mute; who, not surprisingly but disappointingly, just the same, simply won't give hockey's constituency a clue what to expect.
Bettman has a responsibility to hold a non-partisan press briefing in order to paint broad strokes for a public that's exhausted by the shenanigans that have diminished the league. No one expects Bettman to prematurely discuss the fine points of the negotiations, but it would sure be fine if he could step out of his NHL blue suit and educate the fans on the broad strokes of the environment.
And what Bettman should announce — right now! — is that the NHL has tentatively scheduled its 2005-06 Opening Night for Wednesday, Nov. 2, in order to give the league all the time necessary to, a) adapt to a complex CBA that will create a chaotic summer under the best of circumstances; and, b) conduct a logical, creative and intelligent re-launch on...