Breaking Sports

Saturday, June 25, 2005

nhl- Buyout Options

from the Dallas Morning News (Sunday edition) via the Mercury News, Stars fans, sure you're worried about free agent Mike Modano being in a different uniform when the NHL returns, but did you ever wonder about Bill Guerin ... or Pierre Turgeon ... or Doug Weight ... or Derian Hatcher ... or Bobby Holik ... or Jeremy Roenick ... or Sergei Fedorov?
These players all have guaranteed contracts, you say. Not if the NHL gets its way in negotiations. The expected new collective bargaining agreement (due any day now at your local rink) is expected to contain a clause in which teams are allowed a one-time chance to buy out any and all contracts and not have it count against the new salary cap.
Now, we've jumped the gun before in talking about the projected specifics of NHL negotiations, but this proposed buyout clause is expected to be a bone thrown to the top teams. Some big money teams wanted a dispersal draft, but the players shot that down. So, the buyout was a compromise, with one interesting twist - the teams can't reacquire their own players.
That's right, the Stars might be able to get out of Guerin's two years by giving him a large check, but then they can't get him back. With a 24 percent rollback on his $9 million a year and a 67 percent buyout, that means they pay Guerin $4.58 million per year and they save $6 million in cap space each season. Is it a big financial gamble? Sure, but you have to ask if they would be better off trading Guerin for a player who could help in another area.
How is a buyout a trade? Players who are bought out will be sitting as unrestricted free agents with a big chunk of change in their pocket. Guerin would conceivably have $9 million in hand and still be able to sell his services to the highest bidder (other than the Stars). The same will probably be true for other top-caliber players....more...

nhl- Players anticipating Camp

from the Boston Herald, The hockey labor war is nearly over, with a new collective bargaining agreement all but done.
At least that's the general feeling of some of the local NHL players participating in the annual pro-am summer league at Pilgrim Arena, who are gearing up for what they hope is an on-schedule start of training camp.
"I usually don't start playing down here until July, but everyone's here in the beginning of the summer and you can tell that guys are excited and the pace is a lot better,'' said the Buffalo Sabres' Mike Grier, who is hoping a new CBA will be announced in the next couple of weeks. "Guys are anticipating having camp and trying to get themselves as ready as they can be.''
A salary cap, formerly the line in the sand for the Players Association leading up to the lockout, has apparently been agreed upon.
At this stage, Grier just wants to play.
"I'm at the point now where it's whatever it takes to get the deal done,'' said Grier, who starred at Boston University. "If it makes it that every team can be competitive, then I'm for that now. It's a shame we had to go a year without hockey to get to this point, but right now, if they can just get something together then I'm all for it.''...continued...

nhl- Gary Thorne, "$50m Cap"

from the Bangor Daily News, As the summer skies finally fill the days and nights, let us turn to that most necessary element for summer fun - ice. In this case we speak of the NHL ice that long ago melted and the attempts to refreeze it at the bargaining table.
Owners locked out the players last year and the season was lost. Until the last 45 days, negotiations to reach a new collective bargaining agreement had been minimal and lurching at best.
The parties are now serious. The thought of losing another season is untenable. The structure for an agreement has been reached.
Each team will have a salary cap that will be flexible based on team revenues. There will be a team salary ceiling, probably in the $50 million range. Younger players, especially those just entering the league, will take a big hit with a cap on their salaries in the $400,000 range.
There probably will be a revenue sharing plan that will penalize teams for exceeding the cap, but that is iffy because it is the intent of most owners to make sure there is none of the NBA spending in excess of the cap that existed under the just-expired NBA on...

nhl- Ticket Prices

from Spector and Fox Sports, Many NHL fans held the belief throughout the player lockout that, if reduced and capped player salaries were the outcome of the labor dispute, ticket prices might also be significantly reduced.
The complaint among these fans was that because player salaries were so high, teams had no choice but to keep raising ticket prices to pay for those salaries.
The league itself did little to discourage that opinion, stressing the importance for their teams to get their costs under control to make the game more affordable for NHL fans.
But NHL tickets prices are not based on player salaries, but rather what each individual market will bear. That's why prices are so high in traditional hockey markets like Toronto, Detroit and Philadelphia and why they're much lower in a smaller market like Buffalo or in struggling markets like Florida and Phoenix.
Fans will be discovering this fact the hard way once the new collective bargaining agreement is implemented....more...

Friday, June 24, 2005

nhl- NHL Statement

Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today completed five days of collective bargaining negotiations, after which Bill Daly, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, released the following statement:
"The meetings this week were good and we continue to make progress. Obviously, we know that time is of the essence in working to conclude a new CBA, and both sides are proceeding on that basis. We will resume negotiations in New York on Monday."

nhl- NHLPA Statement

At the conclusion of Friday’s meeting in Toronto, National Hockey League Players' Association Senior Director Ted Saskin released the following statement:
“The two parties engaged in lengthy negotiations everyday this week, and while progress has been made in a number of areas, there remains a considerable amount of work to be completed in order to reach an agreement. We will be continuing our meetings with the league on Monday morning in New York.”

nhl- CBA Recap

from CP via TSN, Like the Energizer bunny, NHL labour talks keep going and going and going and will resume again Monday in New York.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association wrapped up more than 75 hours of talks over five straight days here in Toronto on Friday, as they painstakingly inched towards a final resolution. The lawyers on each side of the table continue to draft the agreement as they go along.
''It was a very long week but I think both sides are working really hard to resolve and move the process forward,'' Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer and executive vice-president, said Friday evening before boarding a plane for New York.
''We continued to make progress this week but there are still some issues that we need to talk about,'' he added. ''We've made significant progress on most of the critical areas but that's all contingent on everything being resolved.''
Daly would not say when he thought a deal could finally be done, but it's believed a tentative deal could be reached as early as next week or the first week of July.
''There's a real sense of urgency of tying to get this behind us,'' Daly said.
That urgency was displayed by 15- to 17-hour meetings each and every day this week....more...

nhl- Roenick Undecided

via Fox Sports, Even if a new NHL collective bargaining agreement is reached, Jeremy Roenick may not make a return to the ice.
The Philadelphia Flyers center told Sporting News Radio host Scott Wetzel on Friday that he has not made up his mind about whether or not he'll lace up his skates again.
"I have to see how my body reacts to some really, really, really hard training regimen here coming up in the latter part of the summer," Roenick said. "It's very hard to get motivated without a deal. Once that announcement comes, I think the motivational factor will definitely be lifted.
"I have not 100 percent made my decision to play, but to tell you the truth, I have a lot of drive in me and really, really want to continue."
Roenick also addressed the reported terms of the deal that's supposedly nearly completed that will end the NHL lockout and result in a new collective bargaining agreement. He echoed the sentiments of Penguins center/owner Mario Lemieux, who said the NHLPA would have been better served to accept the offer the NHL presented in February when they were trying to save the season.
"What we could've got in February is probably 10 times better than what we're going to get now," Roenick said. "A lot of us knew that, but we did what we did and that's what you've got to live with.
"It's too bad that we've had a year off. For a lot of us, especially guys like myself, it's going to be a hard year to come back from. It is what it is. We've got to live with it, get the game back on the ice. But we could've had a better deal back in February."

nhl- Bad PR

Most of us have complained long and hard about the way the NHL has handled the public relations side of the CBA.

Today, I found this on the NHLCBA site:
Talks conclude for week, more scheduled
Representatives of the NHL and NHLPA concluded another series of collective bargaining sessions on Friday. The parties met for 28 hours over four days and will resume talks Monday in Toronto.

I am going to assume this is from last week but if the NHL would just date their releases, it would make some sense but that would be too easy.

update 4:45pm, I think the NHL got the message. Much better now.
Representatives of the NHL and NHLPA concluded another series of collective bargaining sessions on June 17. The parties met for 28 hours over four days. Talks are continuing this week.

nhl- Bobby Hull Speaks Out

via TSN, With the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association slowly inching towards a new collective bargaining agreement, Hall of Famer Bobby Hull still had some harsh words for both sides.
Hull, who was in Toronto Friday to promote an interactive 'Shoot For a Cure' exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame, didn't hold back any punches on the owners, players and NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow.
"It's kind of crazy," he told reporters.
"You have billionaires against millionaires. I always thought (Bob) Goodenow wasn't doing the right thing for the kids. He was leading them down the garden path. He was hand-picked by Alan Eagleson and that's all you need to know."
With the NHL enduring its labour problems last year, Hull tried to help launch an alternative for fans in the World Hockey Association. The league, aimed at providing fans with an exciting brand of hockey at affordable ticket prices, never took off.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association have been meeting for weeks now, working away at what appears to be a resolution to the 282-day work stoppage.
"Hockey is a great game, but they've lost sight," Hull added.
"The kids don't care about the game anymore, they don't care about the fans, nor do the owners. The most important people are being taken out of the picture. They need to get back to realize what the game of hockey is and has been, get the families back to see the game and get the grassroots people - the fans - back to see the game again."

nhl- Buyouts

from THN, The pending CBA signing is expected to lead to a flurry of free-agent activity later this summer. It may also start a rash of contract buyouts, if rumors about a window of opportunity for teams to rid themselves of 'bad' contracts are true....continued...

media- Sports & TV

via the NY Post, As testy negotiations again heat up between Major League Baseball and ESPN, it's becoming evident that Wednesday night baseball is headed for extinction, according to sources.
The sides recently resumed talks after taking a break because they have been so far apart.
While ESPN will likely renew its deal, the agreement will be impacted by ESPN's $8.8 billion, eight-year deal with the NFL. ESPN is currently paying $815 million for its six-year TV contract with MLB and wants more bang for its buck.
In its new deal, ESPN might only have baseball on Sunday and one other night compared to at least three days and sometimes four right now.
For the new contract's second game, ESPN wants to be able to broadcast in the local market, like it can for Sunday night baseball. Right now, a weekday Yankee-Red Sox game is blacked out in New York and New England so that YES and NESN's telecasts aren't infringed.
Meanwhile, some baseball officials are displeased with what they consider excessive coverage of the steroid controversy. They think ESPN should address it, but that as a rights holder they shouldn't pile on.
ESPN Executive Vice President Mark Shapiro and a baseball spokesman declined comment.
When John Madden signed with NBC, he may have saved Joe Theismann's ESPN job. ESPN had made an offer to Madden for its 2006 Monday night package, but Madden chose NBC. Though Theismann is still in limbo for 2006, he must have felt some sense of relief, right?
"I don't get caught up in what other people do and where they go," Theismann said. "I think it is great that John is going to have an opportunity to continue. ESPN has not indicated at all to me what their plans are. I'm just getting ready for 2005."
For this season -Theismann's 18th year at the network - he will again team with Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire, whose jobs also are in jeopardy.
ESPN would like to pull Al Michaels over from ABC, but Michaels is the favorite to land at NBC with Madden.

nhl- Listen to the Broadcaster

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, A range of emotions will drive consumer reaction when, as expected, the National Hockey League reopens for business in the fall.
Indifference will be a problem in many U.S. markets. A residual anger over the cancelled season could make an impact on Canadian clubs. But here's a potential scenario and a contradiction: Canadian club owners could be hit hard by resentful fans refusing to buy tickets. (Hence the likelihood of marginally reduced ticket prices.) However, television- and radio-rights holders could actually benefit from the hard feelings and pull in larger audiences.
"The hockey fans will talk tough about punishing the NHL owners and players," speculated one broadcasting source. "They'll say they've given up on hockey and won't buy tickets. "But then they'll go home, close the door to the den and watch the games on TV. They won't be able to resist watching their favourite sport."
As a result, TV numbers could rise slightly as ticket sales decline. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, in markets where the public seemed most upset over the lost season, would likely be hurt most by a fan backlash....more ...

nhl- Will the NHL become "Hot"

from the Washington Times, Sixteen months ago, a league-commissioned financial analyst called the NHL "a dumb investment" and said it was on "a treadmill to obscurity."
Since then, the NHL has seen its lockout become the longest work stoppage in North American pro sports history, ESPN part ways with the league, fans find other outlets for their sporting passion and, surprisingly, a growing group of investors who still want to join the exclusive fraternity of team owners.
Amid the darkest days in the NHL's 88 years, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim recently were sold to billionaire Henry Samueli, who amassed his fortune as co-founder and chairman of communications heavyweight Broadcom Co. A California investor, William "Boots" Del Biaggio, has a letter of intent to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins. The St. Louis Blues are officially for sale with at least several serious offers expected soon. And a pair of Boston investment houses have a standing proposal to buy the entire NHL and recently raised their offer to $4.3?billion....more...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

nhl- Dealing with Cap Issues

form the CP via TSN, Don Waddell and John Ferguson have different challenges ahead of them when the NHL re-opens for business this summer.
Waddell, the Atlanta Thrashers GM, will have plenty of salary cap room but still faces two difficult signings in restricted free-agent stars Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Ferguson, Waddell's counterpart with the Toronto Maple Leafs, will likely be looking to cut before he thinks of adding.
The Thrashers have 12 players under contract for next season at just $14.36 million US, taking into account the 24 per cent salary rollback that will be part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Leafs, in contrast, have eight players under contract at $27 million.
With the upper limit on a salary cap expected to be anywhere between $35 million to $40 million in the new deal, the Leafs don't have a whole lot of cash to fill out two thirds of their roster....more...

ncaah- Frozen Four Sites

INDIANAPOLIS, IN ­ The NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee has selected the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. as the site for the 2009 NCAA Men's Frozen Four, Ford Field in Detroit as the host site for 2010, the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the 2011 host site and the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida as the host site for 2012.

You can control the Game

The first two innings of the July 16 independent Northern League game between the K.C. T-Bones and the Schaumburg Flyers “will be played virtually” by two fans playing EA Sports’ “MVP Baseball 2005” on an Xbox on CommunityAmerica Ballpark’s video screen. The results from the videogame’s two innings “will stand when the T-Bones and Flyers take the field to finish the last seven innings of the game.” The idea for the promotion came from the six-year-old niece of T-Bones Dir of Community Relations Bryan Williams. Williams said that the team is creating “two Xbox teams with the statistics and even facial characteristics of T-Bones and Flyers players.” Hayes noted the two players will “be allowed to choose their lineups, and the play-by-play will be called by stadium announcers.”

nba- Get Fired Up

To get you fired up for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, I present Mason (will open QT video).

blog- All things must End

I am sorry to inform you that Breaking Sports is about to close shop...but the great news is it will get even better.
The success of Breaking Sports has enabled me to become a full time blogger and I feel it is time to start offering you some very exciting new features and enhancements.
I will release the new domain name next week; it will have a very new look to it but I will continue to post all of the pertinent hockey news.
My plans are to continue to post here for a few weeks until all of the bugs are worked out and then use this website as an "archive" only.
I will pass on the new website address sometime next week and will continue to keep you posted on the progress I am making.
Also, the website will be free of charge, imagine that!

nhl- NHL not Mentioned

While speaking at the Promax & BDA conference in N.Y. yesterday, NBC Universal TV Group President Jeff Zucker said the network was in a "rebuilding phase" -- and that sports was a big part of it. NBC and its cable empire will carry the Winter Olympics from Italy in February, and in fall 2006 will have "Sunday Night Football" with newly signed analyst John Madden and a play-by-play man to be named later.
"Sports is going to play a critical role in the rebuilding of NBC primetime," Zucker said.

ncaah- Frozen Four

The NCAA will announce today that Ford Field in Detroit will be hosting the Frozen Four in the year 2010, 2011 or 2012.

nhl- Signs of Hope

from the Buffalo News, B. Thomas Golisano, like other NHL owners, doesn't know a whole lot about what's taking place behind closed doors these days.
Negotiators have been too quiet for him to gauge how much progress the league and the players union have made in reaching a collective-bargaining agreement. He can't say when the lockout finally will end.
All the Buffalo Sabres owner can do is take inventory of the many anecdotal updates from around the league and get a little energized that a deal could be right around the corner.
The Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday named a new general manager and fired their coach. A day earlier the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hired a new GM. The St. Louis Blues were put up for sale and on Wednesday re-signed head coach Mike Kitchen through the 2005-06 season. The Pittsburgh Penguins appear close to being purchased. The NHL recently asked equipment manufacturers to start producing smaller goalie pads.
Hockey observers view the developments as harbingers of good news. Golisano has taken note as well.
"I'm drawing the same kinds of conclusions," Golisano said. "Everybody has been pretty closed-mouthed, and that's an indication things are getting serious. Most people are being conservative with their predictions, and I fall under that category. But I am optimistic.
"Then again, somebody once said "We may be getting close, but there's always the possibility it'll be a train wreck.' "
Golisano's cautiously confident sentiments are shared throughout the league....more...

nhl- CBA Recap

from 640 Toronto, Last nights meeting turned into this mornings, as they went to nearly 1am. I was told earlier in the week that both sides wanted to conclude the CBA by Friday here in Toronto and judging by the length and the lateness of the meetings it could very well come to an end within the next couple of days. Not much has leaked out from yesterdays session which is no surprise because of the time that things finished and I'm sure they might be sleeping on things right now. The players and owners will reconvene today.
The draft lottery looks to be set for the second week of July with the actual draft coming in week one of August. ISS a company that prepares mock drafts, held the ping pong ball lottery yesterday and Toronto won. No word on whether or not the Leafs dealt the pick for Tom Kurvers.

nhl- Re-Launch the Game

from ESPN, The commissioner is stepping to the podium.
A hush settles over the crowd at the Air Canada Centre, and hockey fans around the world anxiously wait.
"With the first pick of the 2005 NHL Re-Launch draft," the commissioner intones, "the New York Rangers select Jarome Iginla."
For a moment, the conspiracy theorists who wondered about the, ahem, propriety of the weighted draft-order lottery that led to the Rangers' obtaining the top pick are shouted down. To be fair, it is just a coincidence (well, at least we think so) that Iginla's choice by the Rangers comes on the 20th anniversary of the Knicks' drafting of Patrick Ewing following another lottery that raised eyebrows.
And the NHL's Re-Launch is on...

nhl- Ticket Prices

from the Toronto Sun, Maple Leafs fans shouldn't expect a break on ticket prices if there is an NHL season this fall, but some clubs are contemplating reductions as a quick way to win back angry and disillusioned fans.
The Buffalo Sabres, hurting from a poor record and an ownership scandal well before the lockout, intend to maintain the league's lowest prices when play resumes.
Season-ticket holders will pay as little as $10 US a game for the upper bowl at HSBC Arena and $21 for the lower bowl, with individual prices to be determined once details of the NHL's new structure allows teams to better project their finances.
"We were already going to have the lowest prices even if there was a 2004-05 season," Sabres director of public relations Mike Gilbert said. "We have to do something to help this market."
The Sabres will also be introducing a system where seven premium home games such as the Leafs, will fetch a higher "gold'' price, while silver, bronze and value dates (11 each) will be gradually reduced.
The Leafs, meanwhile, would only ensure that ticket prices would not increase next year. The top price is $182, with the lowest being $37.
"We don't know what the landscape will look like next season," Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie said. "Yes, salaries are coming down. But I don't know what we'll see in terms of a luxury tax, revenue sharing, the loss of ESPN (TV cash) ... we have a whole new set of economics."
The Ottawa Senators and San Jose are going to lower their prices. The Senators are committed to lowering their prices but won't say how much, while a spokesman for the Sharks said yesterday he anticipated a 10% drop in prices.
The Nashville Predators, one of the league's soft southern markets, have not announced a reduction, though one is being considered.
However, the New York Islanders distributed season-ticket invoices this week with no word of a cut.
They're also asking a $50 surcharge if subscribers don't pay in full by July 29.
The Isles had a significant price hike in 2003-04 and have yet to proceed with a makeover of aging Nassau Coliseum.

Knocked Out Again

via the CP and Toronto Sun, Prince George city councillors have voted 5-3 to cancel Battle of the Hockey Enforcers on-ice fights in the northern B.C. city.
Council met in a special meeting in yesterday to discuss the event that had been scheduled for Aug. 27 at the city's CN Centre.
Most city councillors had already spoken out against holding the event that features hockey tough guys fighting on-ice for cash prizes, fearing what it would mean for the city's image.
Promoter Daryl Wolski said legal action against the city will be started as soon as possible.
Although an agreement in principle had been reached with the promoter, the paperwork was still being processed council was told.
Wolski has been trying to get Battle of the Hockey Enforcers off the ground for 18 months.
He had planned to stage it in Winnipeg last August but cancelled it less than two weeks before it was to take place because there were concerns police might lay charges if it was deemed to be an unsanctioned prize fight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

nhl- The New Landscape

from MSG Network, There's no doubt that, unlike the NBA's quick negotiations, we're going to be working overtime to get hockey back to where it needs to be. Remember, the NBA -- which has a lot more revenue to deal with -- already had a CBA in place that incorporates a salary cap with linkage to revenues, and that's what the NHL is trying to put into effect. Folks, they're basically creating an entirely new system, and that takes much much longer.
Hopefully, once this new deal is intact, six years down the road when its time to renew, it will mean they'll simply tweak something here, tweak something there, and sign off on another deal. It's hard to say right now whether the new CBA will end up being more detrimental to some of the big-market teams. It's sure going to limit the maneuverability of some teams that are used to spending a lot of money, like the Rangers, Toronto and Detroit. Without a doubt, those teams are going to have to really look at their budgets and the entire system, and really do a lot of soul-searching as to who they want to keep, who they can afford to keep, and who they have to let go and replace with less expensive players.
You have to look at what the system will be, and ultimately I think we'll wind up one similar to the NFL where you identify your core players to build around and give long-term contracts to. We'll wind up with a lot of turnover as the NFL does from season to season, but you have to live with that....continued...

nhl- The Professor at Work

from The Moscow Times, The Swiss are known for fine clocks, secure banking and pretty mountain lakes. Based on Igor Larionov's experience, they should also be known for the good taste of their sports fans.
Hockey legend Larionov spent the 1992-93 season with the Swiss team HC Lugano. Now that he has hung up his skates and become a full-time wine entrepreneur, he traces the roots of his unlikely career move to the way Swiss fans showed their appreciation.
"Coming out of the locker room, I was greeted by fans and given one, two, three, four bottles of wine," Larionov said.
The fans had plenty to appreciate. Over the course of a hockey career that spanned four decades, Larionov earned a reputation as one of the smartest players in the game, displaying a strategic sense that sent sports writers scrambling for chess metaphors. His Soviet-era career brought him two Olympic gold medals and four World Championships, and his NHL tenure included three Stanley Cup victories with the Detroit Red Wings. Former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said Larionov had "a sixth sense" on the ice, comparing him -- as many have -- to Wayne Gretzky.
Larionov read obsessively about wine and began consulting with experts. Mike Davis, a Michigan-based wine distributor who is now Larionov's main business partner, remembers the early years of their friendship, when Larionov was playing with the Red on...

nhl- Every team will have Hope

from USA Today, Although Mario Lemieux certainly didn't want to see a lockout, he believes fans will come back because a new deal could mean a new wave of optimism for all teams, particularly in smaller markets. He doesn't know the proposed deal's precise details, but it's being openly talked about around the NHL that there will be a link between revenue and salaries, and that a salary cap would start in the $36 million-$38 million range, depending upon whether player benefits are included. Regardless of the exact number, it's clear that the days of the Penguins being significantly outspent are over.
"You can get out of balance with 30 teams and now everyone will have a pretty decent chance to win the Cup if they run their business properly," he said. "You won't see the New York Rangers at $80 million and the Penguins at $20 million. It's going to be a lot closer. It will give teams hope at the beginning of the season."...whole article...

nhl- Negotiating Major Issues

via Sportsnet, The NHL and NHLPA intend to invest the rest of this week to reaching an end to the lockout and sources tell Sportsnet the two sides are still heavily negotiating the “major issues.”
While it remains true the lawyers involved have been combing through the process every step of the way, a very intense legal analysis will take place once an agreement has been reached.
Neither the league nor the union is in a position to declare a time frame, but July 1 continues to be, perhaps, a lofty target.
All affected by this lockout are hanging onto hope that the negotiations have been reduced to a day-by-day countdown. However, there is virtually no chance of a resolution before next week.

nhl- NBA did It, NHL still Talking

from Eric Duhatschek and the Toronto Globe and Mail,
Q: What is the timetable for a possible resolution to the NHL conflict?
A: At this stage, it's still mostly a guessing game. A settlement could come as early as next Tuesday, depending upon how negotiations proceed this week. If they move along well and the first draft is done by Friday, the lawyers can spend the weekend pouring over the fine print and then return it to the negotiating teams by Monday for a final walk-through. If both sides are satisfied with the result, the press conference could come next week. More likely, even in a best-case scenario, the document would probably need some rewording, or perhaps some last-minute clarifications, which would push the timetable back by as many as seven to 10 days. Few believe the impasse will drag beyond until the middle of July. It would make a lot of sense for the league to run the new CBA past some of its agents-turned-general managers (Phoenix's Michael Barnett, Colorado's Pierre Lacroix, new Anaheim Mighty Ducks' general manager Brian Burke) just to see if they can spot some obvious loopholes in the new agreement. After all, it was Barnett, acting on behalf of Joe Thornton, who helped derail the NHL's entry-level salary system the last time out. Since most teams have only a handful of players under contract for the 2005-06 season, the GM fraternity will need to get up to speed on the new CBA in a hurry once a new deal is done. Some teams may have to buy out players to get under the cap — or offer them on waivers. There are dozens and dozens of prominent stars — everyone from Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg to Jason Allison and Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts — who will be free agents, able to sign with anyone....continued...

nhl- Harry Neale Waiting

from the CP via Slam, With no NHL hockey to broadcast and no games to watch on television, Harry Neale began to look forward to two things each day.
"A lot of days the two highlights was the morning paper banging against the door and the mailman coming," said the veteran Hockey Night in Canada analyst.
For the first time in almost 20 years of TV work, Neale spent a whole season without NHL hockey. Suddenly the former player, coach and general manager had a lot of extra time to fill.
"I didn't do a hell of lot," said Neale. "I worked out more than I usually would because there was nothing else to do, not because I'm a fitness freak."
Like many people during the NHL's winter of discontent, Neale missed the routine hockey offered, its constants.
"It was a big void in my life," he said. "I missed not getting paid. I'm not the only one in that category. I really missed the game. I missed preparing for the games and I missed watching the games on TV."...more...

baseball- Keeping Cool

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), responding to an incident last weekend in which Doosan Bears P Park Myung-hwan’s cap fell off during a game and revealed cabbage leaves, ruled that baseball players cannot put “frozen cabbage leaves under their caps to beat the summer heat.” KBO Chief of Referees Heo Koo-youn: “We had to act because imagine if it happened in the World Series. If something drops out of the pitcher’s cap, it could put the batter off. Does the umpire call strike or ball?” Park said he would abide by the ruling, adding, “Even without the cabbage, my pitching won’t be affected.”

nhl- Who is Right

Today Russ Conway was on Leafs Lunch and stated Joe Thornton wants out of Boston. I do wonder how many players will want to play for Jacobs after his very hardline stance on the CBA?

Now this from the Boston Herald, It appears an end to the NHL lockout is close, with various sources predicting a deal will be made by the time the Fourth of July fireworks fly, or soon after.
"The players just want to play,'' said one longtime Bruins staffer last weekend. "At this point, they don't even care what the deal is. They just want to start getting a paycheck again. Maybe it's $800,000 instead of $1.3 million, but it's a lot better than nothing.''
For the Bruins, the deal could put them in perhaps the best position of any team in the NHL to rebuild their team very quickly and overnight become a leading Stanley Cup on...

nba- Code of Ethics

The San Antonia Spurs clearly are the favored team of the international press corps, considering the team has representatives from four different countries and one U.S. territory. ... Several of the foreign press corps have been slapping hands and patting the backs of Spurs players after victories or big performances. One Asian newspaper representative appeared in the team's locker room after the game with the Spurs logo painted on her face. Even worse, she was wearing an "I Love Manu" tattoo on her arm as she conducted interviews.

I have been to many a sporting event wearing a media pass, and the unwritten code is no cheering allowed by any of the media. Looks like the foreign media has another standard.

nhl- Talked until Midnight

via 640 Toronto, Yesterday's CBA talks lasted until midnight and they were entirely between the union and the owners. The talks will pick up again this morning. I asked an NHL executive about Robert Esche's comments about the CBA being settled by July 1st and his comments were "I have no idea, but Robert Esche is my hero" Glad to see a sense of humour is prevailing during these lengthy talks. Since the talks are going late and often and there is a light heartedness in the air even on just a few hours of sleep, things must be going well and a resolution is upon us.
The meeting yesterday expanded beyond the four that were in discussions last week. One extra person was their on both sides, Bettman, Goodenow, Gartner and Linden were not in attendance, no players were present.

nhl- Butting Heads

via the LA Times, While the NBA and its players have managed to agree in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL remains in the same predicament that ruined the 2004-05 season.
The two sides in the NHL negotiations, which met in New York for a second consecutive day Tuesday, have agreed to a framework for a salary cap linked to league revenue, believed to be 54%, with a 24% rollback on current salaries.
Yet major issues remain. A source familiar with the negotiations said the two sides have recently "butted heads" over entry-level contracts and buyouts of existing contracts.
"They are working toward a new CBA," player agent Ron Salcer said. "It's going to be very lengthy and very complex, and it's going to take a long time to sift through it all. It's certainly going to change the way agents approach their business."
There are concerns that players might not ratify the deal presented by the NHLPA's executive committee. Another prominent player agent said that only a few of the players he has talked to said they would ratify a CBA that includes the provisions that have been reported.
The agent, though, said, "I think when it comes down to it, and they have it in front of them, they will change their minds."

nhl- Going Well

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, Will there be an NHL deal soon? Maybe? Likely? Yes? But Daniel Alfredsson is cautious when commenting on the fragile labour negotiations.
He's optimistic that talks are headed in the right direction for the the NHL's return next season.
The Senators captain, a VP on the NHL Players' Association bargaining committee, won't use the word "confident," but believes training camps could open on time in September.
Speaking to the Sun before taking part in Mike Fisher's charity golf tournament at Kanata Lakes yesterday, Alfredsson admitted the two sides have found common ground on some issues.
"I would say that if talks keep going in the same direction that they've been going, then we're going to have hockey back next season," he said. "The meetings have been good and they've been positive, but there's still a lot of work to be done here.
"I wouldn't use the word confident because I just don't think that's the right way to put it. I'm going to be very careful here. We've been confident before there's going to be a deal and nothing has been done." on...

nhl- Ten Changes

from the Toronto Sun via Slam, In a few weeks, the new NHL will be upon us and it will be a profoundly different animal from the one we have all grown to despise.
Forget about goalie pads and red lines. Those are cosmetics. Here are 10 ways the league will be different.
1. The NHL will have fewer Russians and more American Leaguers. With entry-level salaries curtailed and limited resources devoted to franchise players instead of support players, second- and third-line European players probably will opt to stay at home. The Russian Elite league is far and away the most lucrative gig available. And who will take their place? Expect a new premium on serviceable players who didn't lose a year in the lockout. "We placed about 120 players in the NHL two years ago," American Hockey League Commissioner Dave Andrews said, "and we'd expect to put another 100 players, or four players a team, on top of that number next year."
2. Don't expect to see your favourite player at the club's charity event.
Players have just had a lockout and a humiliating defeat shoved down their collective throats. Team-sponsored events will have to wait for at least a year....continued...

nhl- Idiot Proof

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, As the negotiations between the National Hockey League and its players' association drag on, day after day, week after week, month after month, fans wonder what can be taking them so long.
Especially when it is accepted that both sides have agreed to agree on the basic concepts of a deal.
In simple terms, it's the complexity of the document.
The NHL is trying to create a new economic system. It has decided that the age-old concept of supply and demand is not viable for its endeavours. (The system has worked since cave men traded mastodon meat for stone axes, but it's not good enough for the NHL.)
So the league has to create new rules, new agreements, new understandings, new formulae, new restrictions and new limitations.
After all, the over-riding reason that was the backbone of the owners' lockout has not disappeared. The players provided the league with a perfectly workable system back on Dec. 9 and even offered to roll back salaries to the level that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had demanded. But Bettman turned down that offer for the simple reason that he couldn't trust the owners to use common sense.
The starting point offered by the players is fine, Bettman said, but if left to their own devices, the owners will create an inflationary spiral that extends far beyond their ability to fulfill their commitments.
He hasn't changed that view. He doesn't trust the owners the least bit, and therefore, when the new system is put into place, it must be idiot-proof....more...

nhl- Are you Listening

via the Mercury News, Good news and bad news on a summer sports day ...
Good news: The NBA managed to reach agreement on a new contract Tuesday with 10 days still to run on its existing one, and before the current season even ended.
The deal still needs to be ratified and there are plenty of questions, mostly revolving around the 19-year-old minimum-age requirement. Like, will it stand up in court? Would the next LeBron James really have to pretend to go to college for a year, wasting his and some college's time? But the hard work appears to be done. A lockout has been avoided.
Bad news: The NHL probably isn't even paying attention. If it was, Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow could see that you don't have to take negotiation talk personally. After all, David Stern and Billy Hunter got downright nasty last week: Stern said the union was about to make a mistake of "epic proportions," and Hunter predicted a "death knell" for the NBA and even played the race card in negotiations. Yet it was just talk - they got a deal done.
Not the NHL. The murmur of excitement that a deal was near has quieted into more endless meetings. It appears the NBA learned something from the NHL mess. Sad if the lesson isn't reciprocated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

nhl- Bill Daly comments on NBA CBA

"The NBA has been working with the same basic economic framework for the past 22 years. The issues addressed in the NBA/NBPA negotiation are not comparable with the issues we are attempting to resolve in our negotiation."

nhl- It is going to Happen

from the AP via CNN/SI, As a man who has been on both sides of the labor fence in his long career in hockey, Minnesota Wild president and general manager Doug Risebrough said he's confident the NHL lockout won't keep this season from starting on time.
"It's just going to happen. I just know it's going to happen. There's players that want to play, there's coaches that want to coach and there's managers who want to manage," Risebrough said Tuesday at a meeting of the Minnesota Associated Press Sports Association. "I just don't know how all those forces aren't going to make something happen."...continued...

nhl- Get ready for the new NHL

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Talks between the National Hockey League and the players' association have continued unabated for going on six weeks now, suggesting a new collective bargaining agreement is close at hand. As a demonstration of the gravity of the proceedings, neither side is saying much about the state of the negotiations. Even with the news blackout, however, there are some things we know; some that we think.
What we know: That the financial framework of a new deal is tentatively in place.
What we think: That the new deal will feature a league-wide salary cap, awarding the players 54 per cent of projected 2005-06 revenues of $1.7 billion. That figure - $1.7 billion — is down from the $2.1 billion the league generated in revenues the last time the league played a season, 2003-04 and represents an educated guess as to how much damage has actually been inflicted on the industry. In future years, the figure will be based on an audited figure of actual league revenues. If they go up, the players get more money; if they go down, they get less.
What we know: That the new system will feature both a payroll ceiling (a maximum that teams can spend) and a payroll floor (which every team must spend).
What we think: The ceiling will be established at $38 million, the floor at $22 million. Ideally, teams will want to stay a few million below the ceiling, in case injuries require them to go out and add a player or two during the season. It is unlikely that teams will get salary-cap exemptions to accommodate injured on...

nhl- Waiting

from the CP via Slam, As the NHL and NHL Players' Association continue to put the finishing touches on the collective bargaining agreement, player agents and general managers are anxiously waiting to get their hands on the new deal.
Because once free agency kicks off sometime this summer, it's going be mass mayhem in the NHL. Some teams hardly have any players under contract for next season. Others will cut their rosters by buying out big contracts. And some clubs will approach star players to re-structure their contracts in order to create cap room.
Agents, meanwhile, will need to quickly get a feel for the landscape and find a home for their clients before all the cap room is gone around the league.
"We're going to be feeling our way here, and certainly I think there will be mistakes on both sides of the desk while we learn how to function in a new environment," said veteran agent Don Baizley, whose clients include Peter Forsberg, the No. 1 unrestricted free agent on this summer's market.
The new landscape is expected to be a harsh one for the players: a salary cap of around $35 million-$40 million US per team as well as a 24 per cent pay cut on existing salaries and potential buyouts of existing deals that would not count against the cap....more...

nhl- Jagr says players made a Mistake

via the LA Times, New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr said Tuesday that players' initial refusal of a salary cap in talks with the NHL was a mistake.
"We started the fight because we didn't agree with the introduction of salary caps," Jagr said. "Now, we'll be happy to get them. We didn't expect the owners to be so tough and persistent. It was a risk that didn't pay off."
Jagr was quoted, in Czech, on the Czech Ice Hockey Association's Web site.

nba- Deal Done

NBA owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, averting the possibility of a lockout.
The league called a 5 p.m. ET news conference in San Antonio prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals, with commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter announcing their agreement, ESPN Insider Chad Ford has confirmed.
The deal came on the fourth consecutive day of talks between the sides. The league's old seven-year agreement is due to expire on June 30.
The league and its players' association on Monday night were close to agreeing on a new CBA that would institute a new 19-year-old age limit, reduce contract lengths and raise the salary cap, according to sources close to both negotiating committee.
The potential agreement would run for six years and would allow the two sides to avoid a July 1 lockout.

nhl- Brian Sutter gone in Chicago

via TSN, The Chicago Blackhawks need a new coach. New GM Dale Tallon said today that Brian Sutter will not return for a fourth season behind the bench.

nhl- Seeing the Light

from The Maven and MSG Network, Imagine this: A tune that was written, long, long, ago has relevance to the present NHL Civil War.
That song, “I’m Beginning To See The Light,” made the top of all the charts.
If ever there was a song that symbolizes what appears to be the closing days of hockey’s worst year of labor strife “Beginning To See The Light,” is it.
Yes, there IS light at the end of the tunnel and even I’m beginning to see it.
Yes, the beams get brighter with each day of negotiations that are continuing in Toronto this week.
Yes, it is likely a deal will be completed by July 15, if not sooner.
But, before we all get too ga-ga about a 2005-06 season, let us remember three important elements of reality: on...

nhl- CBA Talks

from 640 Toronto, The CBA talks in Toronto yesterday expanded beyond Daly, Saskin, McCambridge and Batterman, most of the day was spent with internal work being done before both sides got together to reflect on their work and then they called it a night at 930pm. When they get together again today it will be with the slightly larger group then the four that met all last week. The progress is picking up steam and we could have an announcement on a deal by Friday, certainly won't have an announcement today with the NBA finals and the NBA also announcing their own CBA. Come Thursday, everyone will have forgotten about the NBA and the NHL will be poised to make their own noise....more...

Back to School for ex-NHL'ers

from the Toronto Star, It was not an idle retirement. Fourteen seasons and almost $5 million (U.S.) in salary earned during the NHL's pre-lockout days had set Garry Valk up for a lifestyle beyond the imagination of most 10-goal-a-season pluggers, certainly beyond the dreams of most 9-to-5 stiffs.
The former Maple Leaf managed properties he owned in Whistler, B.C., but mostly he skied, golfed and spent time with his wife and two young children. Valk figures he spent about 75 days on the slopes and another 50 on the links in the year after he left the Chicago Blackhawks' organization in 2003. Eight months ago, he bought a car dealership in Vancouver.
Life wasn't idle but it also wasn't ideal. The 37-year-old felt there was something missing.
Unlike the occasional, sensational story of a tormented former athlete found sleeping on a park bench or dead of a drug overdose, Valk's is a more representative situation for the modern player: Financially secure but unsure about how to take the next step toward self-fulfillment once the reality of being away from the game sets in; uncertain how, or if, the skills that ensured a lengthy career in sports, the discipline, perseverance, accountability and leadership, can transfer to the real world.
That is how Valk and his wife Tanya came to contact a "lifestyle coach" to help focus his interests. And it is how he came to fly across the continent to stand on the field at a Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish baseball game holding a microphone, talking to a 6-foot-5 minor leaguer about steroids in sport. And it is how he returned to Vancouver armed with tapes that will show his blossoming broadcast talent to the world.
And it is typical of how the Professional Athletes Transition Institute (PATI) is helping ex-NHLers find new direction on the verdant campus of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
Valk was one of seven former big leaguers, as well as current player Jason York, to go back to school for five days of intensive broadcasting workshops last week....continued...

nhl- Deal after July 4th?

via the Toronto Sun, With fair winds and a little luck, the end of the National Hockey League's journey to nowhere could end just after the July 4th fireworks.
While getting a collective bargaining agreement by Canada Day is asking too much, chances improve once negotiators get through the Canadian and U.S. holiday weekend and closer to the rough deadlines to start the 2005-06 season on time.
Representatives of the owners and players met in their small group format again yesterday in Toronto and it's likely those talks will go into today and tomorrow as was the case with productive discussions in New York last week.
League personnel is hoping the optimism isn't misplaced.
"It's not really a deal until you have it signed off," Florida Panthers general manager Mike Keenan said yesterday. "But at least our thoughts and our information tell us it's being worked on diligently."

nhl- No Deal Yet

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The National Hockey League labour talks continued yesterday in Toronto, with both sides playing down reports of more progress.
At this point, lawyers for both sides are going over many issues line by line, and neither side is prepared to say it has completed agreement on anything, although both the league and the National Hockey League Players' Association admit a deal is in sight in the next couple of weeks. They are expected to meet every day this week.
The New York Post reported on Sunday that there is a tentative agreement to allow clubs to buy out existing player contracts for two-thirds of their value, which was the same amount in the old agreement, without counting the payments against the new salary cap.
This is an important step, as many clubs could not get down to the new cap and floor, expected to be between $22-million and $36-million, without that privilege. The catch, according to the Post, is that clubs that would buy out a player would not be allowed to re-sign the player to a lower amount. He could sign only with another on...

Monday, June 20, 2005

media- The Perfect Pitch

from the Bergen Record, As far back as Mel Allen's "Ballantine blast" at Yankee Stadium and Red Barber's "Old Goldie" at Ebbets Field, sponsors have formed close ties with New York baseball teams.
But what was once a select few advertisers connected to a key moment in a game has mushroomed into dozens of sponsors who, for as little as $100,000, can get a mention on a season's worth of Mets or Yankees radio broadcasts.
From billboards at the top of the broadcasts to sponsored segments during the games to tributes in postgame shows, sponsors across the country are supplementing traditional advertising - and in some cases, bypassing it completely - to build brand awareness, sell their goods and reach the elusive male audience.
And because many of the short promos are included during the flow of the game - when fans are listening - advertisers don't lose them to beer or bathroom breaks between innings. Like product placements in movies and television shows, they are part of "branded entertainment, the hottest phase in marketing in the last two or three years," said Randall Rothenberg, a veteran advertising journalist and author and senior director of intellectual development at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a business consultancy in New on...

nfl- NFL Network televising 55 preseason Games

NFL Network announced today that it will televise 55 preseason games, six of which will be live. This accounts for all but the 11 games covered nationally by the league’s four network partners. NFL Network will use the TV feeds of local broadcast stations, using both home and away announcers for one half each. The net will also offer seven “NFL Total Access: No Huddle” shows during the preseason, which will feature whip-around coverage of four to nine games.

nhl- Bluelines

The Maven discusses much in his latest Bluelines. For example, Not knowing exactly how the next NHL Draft is going to be organized, several teams are stir crazy about the possibility of being able to land Sidney Crosby. Edmonton, Calgary, and the Rangers are just three teams hoping to land that coveted number one pick.

Anyone know of a team that doesn't want Crosby?

nhl- Winner & Loser

from TheFan590, Does anyone believe, Bob Goodenough at this stage of the game would seriously consider holding the NHL to some sort of ransom lasting until next January? Please.
This guy has already been baked over an open flame by Gary and his posse.
Indeed over his shoulder he can see a membership of formerly passionate players, who can't wait to play hockey again no matter the hit to their pocketbooks. Indeed some of these guys are already resigned to make two thirds or half of what they once did admitting publicly that as hockey players they were making a very good living and will continue to do so even when the bank statement comes up short. Golly, the great unwashed, the fans of hockey knew that from day one.
Me thinks that not only is their a framework for a deal in place, but I would go so far as to suggest that it has tentatively been agreed to by the players.
Don't get me wrong.
There's been no formal vote, nor public acknowledgement of what I'm suggesting, however, all that really is happening now, is the identification of how much money each team makes in a season from hockey.
Once that is determined to the satisfaction of the players, we'll have a deal.
The CBA is going to tie salaries to revenues, and big market clubs are going to be asked to share their extra revenues, their profits with weaker clubs. It's all about figuring out, where all the zeros go behind the numbers.
Is it workable? Well most assuredly.
Now the owners have the players right where they want them, and the owners won't be able to get punch drunk without paying a heavy luxury tax price.
Who wins? on...

nhl- The New Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Henry and Susan Samueli announced today they have officially assumed ownership of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, following approval by the National Hockey League (NHL). The Samuelis first announced their intentions to buy the team on February 25, 2005, when they reached an agreement to purchase the club from the Walt Disney Company.
“Susan and I are thrilled to be the new owners of the Mighty Ducks,” said Henry Samueli. “We want to thank the Disney organization for working in close and cooperative partnership with us to finalize this transaction.”
“Aside from being owners, we are fans first and foremost and can’t wait for the upcoming season to begin,” added Susan Samueli.
“The Samuelis have made a passionate commitment to hockey, to the Mighty Ducks and to the community of Orange County,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “The National Hockey League is pleased to welcome Henry and Susan, and we are confident the Mighty Ducks will flourish under their ownership.”
In addition to their interest in the Ducks, Henry and Susan Samueli also own Anaheim Arena Management, LLC, the company which operates the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. The Samuelis are also active and generous philanthropists who have given their support to many important charitable causes within the community.

fyi- No name change this year.

nhl- Esche, CBA by July 1st

from Robert Esche will welcome his National Hockey League buddies to Utica this week for a charity softball game and a round of golf at Turning Stone.
But what Esche really wants is to return to the ice - and put the ninth-month old NHL lockout behind him.
"It's been an extremely frustrating year - something I wouldn't wish on anyone," said Esche, a six-year NHL veteran who was the Philadelphia Flyers' starting goalie for the 2003-04 season. "Now that the season's over, having the time I spent with people in Utica and making a lot of new friends; that's been fun. I even got a chance to meet the governor.
"I think the new collective bargaining agreement will be signed by July 1," Esche said. "They've made a lot of progress, and they're working on a lot of the Xs and Os with the lawyers.
"Qualifying offers, arbitration and free agency. Those are the issues at hand now, and that's good because that means they've got the other issues settled."...more...

This and That

  • Nextel Cup driver Carl Edwards, on his girlfriend, Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer Amanda Beard: “Around the track I get more attention, but we went to the pool the other day and it was hilarious. ... I walked in with her and everybody walked right past me and introduced themselves to Amanda. They didn’t even want to look at me or talk to me.”
  • The Chicago Sun-Times reported that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said that labor negotiations will continue today in N.Y., after the two sides met for 11 hours on Friday. The remaining “three main issues” in the talks are the minimum-age requirement, a new maximum length for long-term contracts and changes to the drug policy. A source close to the meetings said, “They’re making progress on everything.”
  • F1 driver Juan Montoya appeared on CBS’ “Late Show” Friday night, where he was asked about the difference between F1 and NASCAR. Montoya: “Somebody asked me today, ‘What’s the difference between a NASCAR and Formula One car?’ I said it’s not about disrespecting, but have you ever driven a pick-up truck and a Ferrari?”

nhl- So we Sit

Small groups are meeting this week in Toronto. I am sure much activity is going on behind the scenes too. Teams have been given weekly status updates and many are moving ahead with plans for next season.
I still it would be much better for all if the NHL would at least release a statement with a little more detail than what just the standard blurb they have been giving us. Can you imagine the NFL, MLB or even the NBA leaving the fans and the media in the dark like this?
I wonder how many of the fans have really lost interest in the NHL. Not people like you an I, but the average fan, will they come back or have they moved on and scratched the NHL off of their list?

nhl- Not good for Hockey

via Slam, Here's hoping residents of Prince George, B.C., and potential pay-per-viewers out there take a big pass on the Battle of the Hockey Enforcers.
Slated for Aug. 27, the exhibition of fighters -- featuring such forgettable hockey players as Link Gaetz, John Craighead and former Flames hopeful Mike Sgroi -- will feature upwards of 16 tough guys squaring off in elimination bouts for $140,000 in prize money.
Cities including Minneapolis (where 5,000 tickets were sold before the plug was pulled), Winnipeg, Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal decided against hosting the event.
Hockey already has a bad enough image and thanks to this kind of event, it'll only be perpetuated by those who see it only as a blood-lust sport. Everybody involved in an event that disgraces the game like this has no right to call themselves hockey fans.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

media- ESPN, more movies and Series...

...less MLB and NHL.
That's one big equation on the mind of Mark Shapiro, executive VP of programming and production for ESPN, who's gung ho about broadening the audience for ESPN by reaching beyond the stereotypical potbellied sports nut, stretched out in his undershirt on a Barcalounger with a can of beer in one hand and a remote in the other.
ESPN and ESPN2 aimed the National Hockey League games it carried from 1999 through 2004 squarely at this viewer, but Shapiro says the NHL's ratings had fallen to such a depressed state by the 2003-04 season (a labor dispute obliterated the 2004-05 schedule) that he won't pay cash license fees anymore.
And Shapiro is negotiating a new contract with Major League Baseball but says, "I'm not interested in carrying five games a week unless I get full network exclusivity," a concession baseball seems unwilling to grant except for the traditional ESPN game of the week on Sunday night.
And that's where scripted programming comes in. Shapiro says one of the reasons ESPN's scripted series about Las Vegas poker players "Tilt" failed to find an audience earlier this year is that the only free night not saturated with live sports commitments was Thursday, where, at 9 p.m., the show had to go up against such strong series as "CSI" on CBS, "Will & Grace" on NBC and "Extreme Makeover" on ABC. Against those odds, "Tilt" never really had a on...(you may have to watch a 10-sec infomercial in order to get to the article).

nhl- A bank of Players

Yvon Pedneault of RDS writes what is being discussed during the CBA talks. I have translated the page into English.

nhl- Talking Buyouts

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), Barring amendment, the new NHL's new collective bargaining agreement will contain a transitional provision allowing teams to buy out players over a defined period this summer without having the 67 percent cost charged against their respective caps, sources close to the negotiations have told Slap Shots. Teams exercising that option, however, will be prohibited from re-signing those players.
Even as a significant number of players are expressing distress to one another and to Players Association executives over the direction their negotiating committee has taken — a significant number, but surely a clear minority under any available anecdotal measure — it appears as though an agreement to end the lockout is within realistic reach by the middle of July.
As the fluid negotiations proceed concurrently with attorneys drawing up language on an almost hourly basis seven days a week, it appears as if only willful reneging by either side on previous commitments can derail the inevitable. This, even while dissenting players and angry agents complain that they've received virtually no information regarding the talks and have been given essentially no input into the bargaining. All PA members will of course receive a ballot in the ratification vote.
Slap Shots has learned that the club payroll range for next season is expected to be established at a ceiling of $39.5M and a floor of $22.5M, but with player benefits — estimated at $2.2M per in all previous documents — included within those numbers. Accounting for all ancillary included costs, the 2005-06 club payroll floor could actually be as low as $18M, with the high at approximately $35M.
Further, the NHL will withhold a fixed percent of player salaries in escrow to ensure the league maintains a fixed link of either 54 or 55 percent between payroll and revenues. The payroll range will be adjusted against revenues each season.
All existing contracts and qualifiers will contain the 24-percent rollback first offered by the union last Dec. 9 as a mechanism to avoid taking a hard cap. Buyouts, therefore, will be calculated as two-thirds of 76 percent of the original value of a contract.
Qualifying offers will be applied as per the PA Dec. 9 proposal, with the salary arbitration framework also based on that player's offer. No small thing, the CBA will feature revenue sharing over the life of the agreement that's measurably greater than the league's large-revenue clubs are comfortable with.
All 2004-05 contracts will be eliminated entirely. Unrestricted free agency will apparently remain at 31 this summer, though the age is expected to be incrementally reduced to 28 over the life of the deal. Entry Level compensation will be severely reduced, though it seems as if there will be provisional allowances for those previously drafted but unsigned. The mechanics of salary arbitration-players will go directly from Entry Level to salary-arb-eligible are still under discussion, as is reformatting the off-season critical date calendar. Cap treatment of players on Injured Reserve remains unresolved.