Breaking Sports

Saturday, July 09, 2005

nhl- Draft Choices

via Sportsnet, While the pieces of the puzzle that makeup a new collective bargaining agreement are clearly falling into place, what has remained a mystery to this point is the "when, where, and how" of the 2005 NHL entry draft.
Sportsnet has learned three cities are being considered by the league as hosts for the rapidly approaching selection process.
Sources say Toronto, New York and Ottawa are being considered for what will be, in many ways, the game's official re-launch -- with Sidney Crosby playing the starring role.
At this point nothing has been confirmed. However, sources tell Sportsnet the league very recently has been in contact with a Toronto Hotel inquiring about the size of a venue required to host the lottery and subsequent draft.
It is believed the same discussions have taken place in New York and Ottawa.
July 30 has been rumoured as a potential date, but the first week of August appears to be more likely.
As for the how?
A lottery system has garnered the most attention, but the NHL's elite shouldn't count on equal weighting of the balls if this is the method that is agreed on to determine the order of selection in the first
round.
A flat "no" is how one executive answered the above theory when asked directly.
The official details of this exercise are still being worked on, with the end result certain to cause controversy regardless of the chosen
format.

nhl- Comparing Deals

from Newsday, So now for the $42.5 million question: would the Players Association have been better off taking the deal offered in February as opposed to the one they'll have to take now?
That depends on what you consider a good deal. In the short term, the players would have saved a portion of their 2004-05 salaries that is now lost forever. And the salary-cap number was initially higher, but remember, it was de-linked from league revenue....more...

nhl- Manny Legace, Round 2

In less than two weeks, Legace has ripped the NHLPA and Bob Goodenow. Round 1 was on June 30th and now this from the AP via Mlive, Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace ripped the executive director of the player's association Saturday and bemoaned the loss of the NHL's 2004-05 season and his former coach.
"We lost a season for no reason," Legace told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview. "We should've crumbled last September when the owners wanted a salary cap."
Despite at least one report indicating the league's labor situation is essentially resolved, the NHL and the players' association deny that is true.
The Los Angeles Times, citing anonymous sources close to the negotiations, said Thursday the agreement would feature a hard salary cap linked to 54 percent of league revenue, a 24 percent rollback of existing contracts and qualifying offers.
The salary cap would be $37 million and wouldn't include medical and dental benefits and pension payments, the newspaper reported.
"They're not going to announce anything until it's 100-percent finished and I'm sure they're not going to do it before the All-Star game," said Legace, referring to baseball's midsummer classic Tuesday night in Detroit. "I'm hearing it's all but done and the lawyers have been looking over it, and that it could take 14 to 20 days."...read on...

nhl- NY teams Key to NHL

from the NY Times (Sunday edition and reg. req.), With an end to the National Hockey League lockout a mere formality - the announcement of a new collective bargaining agreement is expected this week - the main question now facing the league is whether it can win back its fans and corporate support.
And after that, how to mold the N.H.L. into a sports league that is again relevant.
"It's going to take time and a lot of work," Wayne Gretzky, now a managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes, said in a telephone interview Friday. "We have to do a tremendous amount of selling of the game."
Having a strong franchise in New York City might make for a good start.
The Rangers have not qualified for the playoffs since the 1996-97 season, and the N.H.L.'s popularity has been in steady decline since peaking in 1994, when the Rangers won their only Stanley Cup since 1940.
Many, though not all, sports executives would say that is not a coincidence.
As Gretzky, who retired as a player after the 1998-99 season after spending his final three seasons with the Rangers, said, "It's always in the best interest of any sport when one of the franchises in New York is successful."...continued...

nhl- Hop on the job Train

from Newsday (Sun. edition), Tom Rakoczy's resume reads like a bubble gum card. In fact, it actually is a bubblegum card.
In response to a help-wanted ad placed by the Islanders, Rakoczy designed his resume to look exactly like a vintage hockey card he had of former Islanders forward Bob Bourne. His picture is on the front, and his stats are on the back.
It's even in English and French.
"Just trying to open the door," Rakoczy said.
It worked. In November 2003, Rakoczy's resume stood out among a handful of inquiries the Islanders fielded for a creative services manager opening. By March 2004 he had the job. A little more than a year laterthe 35-year-old Rakoczy found himself designing another Islanders employment ad that drew more than 2,000 resumes, some as creative as his....more...

nhl- Talking Sunday

from the CP, The NHL and NHL Players' Association will continue talks Sunday as they move closer to completing a new collective bargaining agreement.
They met Saturday for the sixth straight day in New York and a deal could be announced as early as Monday.
The two sides have met 79 times overall - over nine consecutive weeks - since commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the 2004-05 season Feb. 16.
Bettman has summoned the NHL's executive committee to New York for an update Monday, something he has done routinely during the lockout.

nhl- Dwayne Roloson on ESPN Radio

Roloson (Wild player rep) was just on ESPN radio and he will neither deny or confirm a deal will be agreed upon this weekend.
He also said he doesn't think the deal that was offered in February would have been better than the deal that is being discussed now.

nhl- Fresh start for Sabres

from the Buffalo News, For three years, the Buffalo Sabres clamored for a new National Hockey League framework that would allow them to cut costs, erase large annual losses and create a solid long-term franchise.
The Sabres will have that framework under a new labor agreement expected to be announced next week.
That deal will include a salary cap and revenue-sharing plan expected to help the Sabres cut their payroll by a few million dollars and increase their revenue.
Now it will be up to the Sabres to ensure the long-term viability of this franchise....more...

nhl- Treat them like Dirt

via the Winnipeg Sun, The NHL would have got exactly what it deserves had Sidney Crosby decided to sign a more lucrative offer to play pro hockey in Switzerland next season.
Crosby said yesterday he isn't going to Europe if the NHL mess is cleaned up, but if he did bolt, the NHL would have found out how it feels to be treated like dirt.
And that's exactly how the NHL deserves to be treated for a while, until it serves its sentence for taking hockey away from us for a year.
Yes, hockey is only fun and games when you get right down to it, but it's still a business. And the business side took away our fun and games during a long, cold winter.
Therefore, they should pay a penalty.
You know the folks in Toronto and Detroit are going to be filling ACC and Joe Louis Arena, respectively, right off the hop, but it's not going to be the same scenario in places like Florida and North Carolina, where the lockout effects will probably hit the hardest.
I'm interested to know how -- or if -- you're going to punish the NHL for pulling the stunt it pulled last winter. The only real measure to take in Winnipeg is to not watch hockey on TV and to stop buying merchandise.
Then again, once the lockout ends and the players officially get their butts handed to them on a platter, the talk of the NHL returning to Winnipeg is going to explode.

nhl- Deal could come Monday

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, The finish line is still a few days away.
While an erroneous report Thursday declared an agreement in principle had been reached, sources say representatives of the NHL and the Players Association were huddled again yesterday, aiming to put the finishing touches on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The two sides are close to ending the NHL's 10-month labour war and would like to have a deal done tomorrow. But sources say they spent yesterday ironing out the details of several issues which have yet to be worked out.
Ideally, the NHL would like to have something in place that can be presented to the league's executive committee at a meeting Monday in New York and to the board of governors later in the week.
An announcement will come in the form of a simple press release with a statement from representatives of the NHL and the NHLPA. A more formal press conference will take place once the deal has been ratified.
NHL VP Bill Daly, along with NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow and senior director Ted Saskin, are trying to get through some smaller issues while lawyers deal with the exact language of the agreement.
Here's what was discussed yesterday:...continued...

nhl- PA getting Help

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), NHL Players' Association negotiators have been in constant communication with their counterparts at the NBA Players Association over the last week, seeking advice on how to include specific language in the collective bargaining agreement to ensure that league owners don't hide revenues that are meant to be included within hockey's coming cap, The Post has learned.
According to sources, representatives for the basketball players have told the NHLPA they believe NBA owners consistently divert income meant to be included in their cap, but are apparently unable to prove it. The NHL union is seeking to prevent such chicanery in their sport after having agreed to take a percentage-of-the-gross cap.
The issues of revenue definition, accounting and reporting have been a major focus of this week's NHL talks that, despite erroneous reporting elsewhere, have not reached completion. Negotiations between the parties are expected to continue through the weekend. The league has tentatively scheduled a meeting of its executive committee for Monday.
Though most of the critical issues have been resolved (stories in news outlets this week confirmed details of the agreement first appearing in The Post on May 29 and June 19), we've learned that finalization of the revenue-sharing formula is among myriad items awaiting agreement....read on...

nhl- Sometime

from the Philadelphia Inquirer, An NHL player agent predicted yesterday that if the NHL doesn't announce a tentative collective bargaining agreement by tomorrow, the announcement likely won't occur until the middle of next week. Another agent suggested that a settlement could be announced even later.
The NHL denied a report Thursday in the Los Angeles Times that a tentative agreement to the collective bargaining agreement had been reached. Commissioner Gary Bettman locked out the players Sept. 16, wiping out last season.
"If we don't hear anything over the weekend, we won't hear anything until at least Wednesday," agent Rick Curran said. "They would be concerned with conflicting with baseball's All-Star Game."
The All-Star Game is Tuesday, with the home-run contest and other activities on Monday....more...

Friday, July 08, 2005

nhl- Wings must cut ticket Prices

from the Detroit Free Press (Sat. edition) via the Mercury News, This new coach. Is he going to coach any ... you know ... games?
The Red Wings, a hockey team that didn't play hockey, fired a coach, Dave Lewis, who didn't coach ... presumably so they could hire another coach, Mike Babcock, who didn't coach.
Help me out here. When Gandhi was in the middle of his hunger strike, did he call a news conference to announce he was firing his cook?
Not too long ago, all of Detroit would have been buzzing with the mere hint of a rumor of a possibility that the coach might get canned.
But Lewis' contract recently expired, and I didn't get a single e-mail, voice mail or comment from anybody wondering if he would come back.
Not too long ago, Wings games meant a ton to Detroiters. Playoff games were can't-miss events.
But in the past year, it became clear that the games do not mean nearly as much as cost certainty, a $1.83-million average salary, or the despicable, juvenile, he-started-it-no-he-did spitting match between commissioner Gary Bettman and union leader Bob Goodenow.
If the games don't mean that much to the people involved, how can they mean that much to you?
Now, supposedly, there is a labor deal almost in place. Now everybody is supposed to care again.
Now the NHL will come back, suction tube in hand, and ask you to re-attach it to your wallet.
If the Wings really want to bring people back, they should do the right thing and slash ticket prices.
For years, the Wings hiked prices, then said they needed to do it to support their championship-level payroll. Their 2003-04 payroll was around $78 million. Thanks to the enforced socialism of the new collective bargaining agreement, their 2005-06 payroll probably will be half that amount.
They should cut ticket prices in half, too. Or at least come really, really close....more...

nhl- Meeting this Weekend

from the CP via TSN, The NHL and NHL Players' Association will continue talks this weekend after meeting for a fifth straight day in New York on Friday as they continued to inch closer to a collective bargaining agreement.
A deal could be reached as soon as this weekend but more likely early next week.
The two sides have met 78 times overall - nine consecutive weeks - since commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the 2004-05 season Feb. 16.
Bettman has summoned the NHL's executive committee to New York for an update Monday, something he has done routinely during the lockout. This time they'll probably be asked to look at the deal at hand, a six-year agreement that will look something like this depending on last-minute changes:...read on...

nhl- Fooled Again

from The Maven and MSG Network, Here’s the story you don’t want to hear – and I don’t want to tell.
But, in all honesty, I have no choice.
The fact is you – the hockey fans – have been fooled again.
“NHL DEAL IS ALL BUT DONE” screamed one headline.
Others, from Toronto to Los Angeles were equally loud – and wrong.
What happened is the same thing that took place on that “Stupid Saturday” in February when the NHL Players Association allegedly planted a story that a deal was done only to embarrass Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. When, in fact, no such pact was completed.
The twin icons were duped into coming to Manhattan on the assumption that the union was ready to cut a deal.
In my estimation, the NHLPA had hoped to embarrass the league into accepting a pact not of its choice.
“It didn’t work then,” one of the top league negotiators tells me, “And it won’t work now.”
According to two sources directly involved in the talks, the “deal-is-done” stories that broke Thursday in Los Angeles and were picked up in other precincts were similarly untrue.
“They are making it up” is what one of the negotiators tells me.
And, why would the stories be fabricated?
Step back in time for a moment and recall what I reiterated in these spaces over and over and over again since last September....continued...

nhl- Statement from the NHL

The NHL's Public Relations department issued a statement on the CBA talks Friday. "Given additional media reports, the NHL again denies that there is an agreement in principal between the League and the NHLPA," the statement read. Talks are continuing.

nhl- Crosby to play in NHL, if there is One

from CBC, Sidney Crosby insists he will definitely play in the NHL next season if the league and the players' union agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Asked by CBC News Friday about recent reports he was negotiating to play in Switzerland, Crosby, hockey's top prospect, said he will only play in Europe next season if there is no NHL hockey.
"Obviously I'm going to consider other places, but if there's an NHL [season] that's where I want be. Right now, I want to make sure that I have somewhere to go if there is no NHL season, but we're thinking best-case scenario that there's going to be one, so that's what I'm worried about," Crosby told CBC News....more...

nhl- Leafs Lunch

They have a round table going today and someone mentioned he received an email today from an agent. The agent stated based on the LA Times story which outlined the CBA, the majority of his players would reject the CBA.
Also mentioned the part of the CBA which states the top player is limited to 20% of the team cap. Therefore, if the cap is $37m, the most a player could make would be $7.4m. Now, does this mean the team cap is, or what the league cap is? If it is the team cap, and let's say Carolina has a cap of $28, then the highest paid player could only make $5.6m as opposed to a team with a $37m cap, which could pay a player up to $7.4m.

nhl- Starting Fresh

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, As the National Hockey League coaching carousel spun again Friday — Dave Lewis out in Detroit, Mike Babcock almost certainly — what you're seeing is teams taking an opportunity to start fresh in advance of a new collective bargaining agreement. After all, if this really is going to be "A Whole New Game" in a whole new economic system, they may as well introduce a whole new coaching staff, playing a whole new system....more...

nhl- Talking CBA

from 640 Toronto, Looks like we are at the end, whether it is today, tomorrow or Sunday it will be this weekend. The NHL Executive committee is poised to review the fully completed CBA on Monday. The ratification process will take seven days for both sides. After that an official announcement will come that the deal has been ratified. No announcement about a "tentative" agreement or a "deal in principle" will happen. The NHL may send out a press release this weekend to indicate that the meetings are over and ratification and review is under way. There has been talk about how the PA are looking for salaries to be honoured from last year, that is not true, that issue was put to bed about three weeks ago. What seems to be left on the agenda right now, are minute issues such as per diem, and whether or not free agency will be for everyone who turns 31 in 2005, usually it is for players who turn 31 on or before June 30th, this appears to be the last issues being looked at.

nhl- Red Wing Press Conference

Ken Holland stated that Dave Lewis would not be re-signed as head coach of the Wings. Thanked him for his service to the Wings organization. Holland met with Lewis yesterday and offered him a scouting position with the Wings, but he wants to coach and will pursue another job.
Assistant coaches were informed of decision yesterday, they will all be given strong consideration when a new coach is in place.
Has had conversation with Babcock and will talk with him again soon. Has a few other people in mind but has not spoken with anyone else besides Babcock.
Holland and Wings Asst. GM Jim Nill both know Babcock and that is why he is being pursued as the head coach.
Holland did not want to come back this year with same old, same old again this year. Ken felt making the transition for Lewis from asst. coach to coach was very hard. He was well liked and as Holland said, none of the players liked Bowman. It was an impossible challenge for Lewis to change his ways now.
Holland spoke with Yzerman yesterday and wants him back. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are two key players with the team and wants to compete for the Stanley Cup again.
Emphasis on the game will be skill, looking for a coach that has passion, organized and can establish an identity. Has discussed contract with Babcock. Holland said that Babcock is also talking with a few other teams.

I have found out that the Wings did not want to have this press conference but the story leaked out and therefore addressed it today. They did not want to take away any hoopla from the MLB All Star festivities which have started in Detroit today with the opening of Fan Fest.

update 1159am Babcock will become the coach of the Wings and it will be officially announced either Wed. or Thurs. next week. As I mentioned earlier, the Wings did not even want to have this pc, but the story leaked out so they addressed it. The Wings will wait until after the All Star game to make any more announcements.

mlb- $10,000 Mistake

“A blown call” that negated Marlins LF Miguel Cabrera’s home run on Wednesday could cost a contestant of MLB.com’s “Beat the Streak: HR Edition” the $10,000 grand prize. The contest “requires participants to choose one [MLB] player each day that they think will hit a home run,” with nine consecutive successful selections winning $10,000. MLBAM Editor-in-Chief Dinn Mann: “It hasn’t been worked out, but a gesture of some kind will be made. It’s a good guess that something meaningful will be done to show we are good sports.”

nhl- Players will ratify CBA

Manny Legace (Wings player rep) was just on WXYT radio in Detroit, said the players will ratify the CBA with no problem. Said there will be a lot of bitching but it will get ratified.
Manny mentioned that Lewis had a hard time getting players to play hard all the time. Doesn't know much about Babcock but he is more in the mold of Bowman than Lewis.

nhl- Owners, fans Win

from the Buffalo News, It looks like we're down to the final days before the National Hockey League completes a deal with its bruised and battered players' association. Both sides are sure to refer to this document as "an agreement" to maintain peace, but all it will really mean is that the NHLPA agreed to swallow an elephant.
In the coming weeks, you're going to hear a series of apologies, some of which have already come from the players. Some will be genuinely sorry. Many will be sorry they had this "agreement" jammed down their throats because they were too stubborn or too scared or too slow to acknowledge what has been painfully obvious for more than a year....more...

nhl- A deal is Close

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, If the National Hockey League had indeed reached a deal in principle with its players, it would have been announced by now.
Both the league and the NHL Players Association know that it makes no sense to try to keep such a development from public scrutiny.
But the fact that an American newspaper has made the latest claim of a done deal is of some merit, even if it's not accurate. It's one more indication that the deal is close.
Everybody who is interested already knows that. The hiring of general managers, the shuffling of coaches (look for Anaheim general manager Brian Burke to go after Mike Johnston, assistant coach of the Vancouver Canucks, now that he has forced his incumbent, Mike Babcock, out of his post) and the over-all gearing up of the league, are all indications that a new collective bargaining agreement is not far away.
Nothing is finalized yet, but a lot of concepts are very near to agreement. They might change slightly as the tit-for-tat shuffling of concessions continues, but in essence, the deal will be pretty much the way Bruce Garrioch spelled it out in Monday's edition of the Toronto Sun.
The players will take a significant drop in salaries, but that's no surprise. Their first meaningful foray into the bargaining waters was a 24% rollback. They were always aware that they wouldn't be able to maintain the levels that the owners had established over the previous decade.
Team salaries will be capped in the $39-million range and for most teams, that won't represent a major hardship....continued...

nhl- Considering major rule Changes

from USA Today, The NHL is contemplating getting rid of the red line, adding four playoff teams and eliminating tie games, according to a league memo obtained by USA TODAY.
In the memo sent from director of hockey operations Colin Campbell to all general managers, he details 13 possible rule changes being discussed by the newly formed rules committee. That group includes players, general managers and one owner.
The objectives, according to Campbell's memo, are to "let the skill players play, increase scoring chances, maintain physicality of (the) game, take away defensive team's tools (and) give to offense, (change the) culture (and) entertain."
Not all changes will be approved, and history would suggest the expanded playoff pool is one that will meet opposition, but here are some of the proposals:...read on...

nhl- Dave Lewis, a good Guy

from Mitch Albom and the Detroit Free Press, Like a lot of folks in Detroit, I've known Dave Lewis for a while. And that's the problem. He has been here as a player. He has been here as an assistant coach. And he has been here as head coach.
Familiarity breeds contempt.
In sports, it breeds the door.
So Lewis is out today as the Red Wings' skipper. What should we make of this? Well first, let's admit, just talking about hockey -- as if it's actually, you know, a sport that plans on playing sometime soon? -- is almost exhilarating, isn't it? I pretty much forgot we had a team.
But with this sudden news -- and this morning's scheduled news conference to deliver it officially -- I was reminded. I was also reminded that the Red Wings didn't do so hot on their last trip to the playoffs. And they did even worse the year before -- despite a really expensive payroll and some amazing talent. And Lewis was there for all of it.
So is anyone shocked that with a new season and a new collective bargaining agreement and a new roster looming on the horizon, the Red Wings would want a new coach? About the only reason they wouldn't let Lewis go is that he has been here for a while.
But, as I mentioned, that's the problem....read on...

nhl- Optimism

from Newsday, Even as denials came fast and furious from the NHL and the Players Association that they had completed a deal in principle for a new collective-bargaining agreement. a heightened sense of anticipation permeated the league yesterday.
There is little doubt the complicated and exhausting negotiation is almost over. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the tentative agreement will be presented to the NHL Executive Committee on Monday and then perhaps to the Board of Governors for approval as early as Tuesday. If the board approves it, it will be presented to the players for a ratification vote.
After almost 10 full months mired in a lockout that resulted in the unprecedented cancellation of the 2004-05 season, hockey is on its way back from oblivion. But the NHL is being extra careful not to make a premature announcement.
"I don't have any information, but the sense I get from everybody is they're making considerable progress," Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said yesterday from his office at Nassau Coliseum. "It's safe to say it's going to get done in the near future."...continued...

nhl- Losing Youth

from the Toronto Sun, Full details of the new collective bargaining agreement have yet to be released, but there are fears some of the top young players will not be part of the 'new' National Hockey League when it re-launches this autumn.
In the wake of guaranteed No. 1 pick Sidney Crosby's negotiations with Lugano of the Swiss League came word yesterday that Alexander Ovechkin, 2004's top choice, has signed a contract with the Russian team Avangard Omsk.
In both cases, it reflects a concern on their agents' part that the new CBA will be too stingy with rookie salaries, which are expected to be capped at $850,000 US a year, according to most reports.
"That's the risk of the deal," Edmonton-based player agent Ritch Winter said. "It (the young players' strategy) has been thought out."...read on...

nhl- All but Done

from New York Daily News, The short, official answer remains: No, representatives of NHL owners and players have not yet agreed to a new, lockout-ending collective bargaining agreement.
But that's only a matter of days, maybe a week, from changing - followed by perhaps two weeks of waiting for ratification votes by the 30 owners and NHLPA rank and file. Fact is: it truly is down to the minutiae now.
Expect the owners to quickly affirm the document with rousing acclaim, as its gist will reflect exactly what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wanted for them all along: a new economic model that caps team payrolls and ties that cap to a percentage of league-wide revenues.
Desperate to resume playing and stop hemorrhaging money they'll never recoup, players are expected to ratify the deal as well. But their vote undoubtedly will be a more acrimonious affair, with a significant number enraged that NHLPA head Bob Goodenow asked them to fight for a moral cause (no cap or no hockey) only to abandon that cause without saving the 2004-05 season....read on...

nhl- Deal is good for the NHL

from the LA Times, The NHL's adoption of a hard salary cap linked to 54% of league-wide revenues, tight entry-level salary limits and other cost controls in the soon-to-be-finished collective bargaining agreement will give the league a solid economic base and enhance its competitiveness by putting teams on a closer footing, a prominent sports marketing expert said Thursday.
Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon and an avid hockey fan since childhood, said the foundation of the labor agreement as outlined in The Times on Wednesday "is the economic model we've all believed was needed, those of us who follow this as a business. It sets the league up to be successful in the only way it could be successful."
However, he said that the NHL might be miscalculating if it bases its $37-million salary cap, $24-million payroll minimum and other provisions on projected revenues of $1.8 billion. The league had revenues of $2.1 billion in 2002-03 but has since lost its TV deal with ABC/ESPN and is likely to lose sponsors because of the lockout imposed by Commissioner Gary Bettman last Sept. 15.
"The idea of $1.8 billion seems ambitious," Swangard said. "Is it impossible? No. It's not a number that you laugh at. But you sort of worry that it's going to be ambitious. The silver lining is teams will have the ability to tie personnel expenditures to whatever that number will bemore...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

nhl- What's in it for Us

from the Tampa Tribune, A story made the rounds Thursday morning that an agreement had been reached to end the National Hockey League lockout. Light the lamp and order up a round, on ice. Unlock the locks and tell negotiators to shut their yaps.
We got a deal.
Alas, the story quickly was denied and fried.
It's not true, the owners said.
Absolutely not true, the players said.
Here we go again with the media fabrications, right?
Not so fast.
The Los Angeles Times might have jumped the gun a bit in reporting the lardheads who killed the hockey season have reached an agreement in principle to return to the ice, but the paper almost certainly wasn't far off. It's the real thing this time, or at least it bears a striking resemblance to the truth.
The NHL has been checking with teams about scheduling dates for an upcoming season, and most of the big issues - particularly the salary cap - have been settled.
There are a few thorny issues left, including whether contracts signed for last season will be honored this season. They will haggle that out eventually, though, and maybe be so kind as to let us know what they decide.
When they do, we'll find out something even more important.
We'll learn how the league plans to ask forgiveness from the fans it basically spat on last season. Of the details yet to be resolved, that's the most interesting one of all....more...

nhl- Detroit Red Wings

Wings have called a press conference for 11am tomorrow. My opinion is Mike Babcock will be introduced as the new Wing coach after agreeing to a multi-year contract.

update 8:58pm. from the AP, The Detroit Red Wings are close to providing answers about their coaching situation.
General manager Ken Holland planned a news conference Friday morning to talk about the coach's job, which has been the subject of rumors over the past several days.
When contacted Thursday night, Holland declined to discuss specifics.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow," he said.
Dave Lewis' coaching contract expired June 30. Red Wings spokesman John Hahn said Lewis and Holland met Thursday, but declined further comment.
Messages seeking comment were left with Lewis on Thursday.

update 9:14pm. You can listen to the pc live tomorrow at the Wings Flagship radio station. You will need to register.

nhl- Hoping to get to the finish Line

from The Maven and MSG Network, The easiest prediction I have ever made – naturally – has come true.
Earlier this week, I dusted off my trusty ouija board and, within seconds, it told me that every media person east of Suez and west of Canarsie would be deluging us with stories about the NHL’s peace pact.
And, of course, this has happened over the past 48 hours.
Not surprisingly, some of the stories are partially correct.
It’s the old mud-on-the-wall theory. Throw enough mud and most of it will fall to the ground – but at least some will stick.
Surprise of surprises, some has stuck.
As I’ve been saying over and over again, this armistice between the NHL and the NHLPA would NOT be neatly arranged to be announced on Canada (July l) or Independence Day (July 4) or any day that pleases a headline-writer.
The Collective Bargaining agreement is so comprehensive – an estimated 500-plus pages – that it threatens to surpass the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary in both size and weight.
Nor will Commissioner Gary Bettman dare allow an announcement to take place before every comma is in place and every owner has thoroughly read the document....continued...

nhl- Days away from CBA Agreement

from the CP, via Slam, The NHL and NHL Players' Association are still a few days away from reaching a tentative labour agreement, sources on both sides said Thursday.
The day began with both the league and NHLPA denying a report in the Los Angeles Times that a tentative deal had been reached on an collective bargaining agreement.
Sources said the earliest an announcement will come is some time on the weekend but it may wait until early next week, as both sides continue the tedious and laborious process of drafting the legal agreement. The union and league have met every day in New York since Monday, the ninth consecutive week talks have been held.
Once a tentative deal is announced, it still has to be ratified by a full players' vote and by the board of governors on the owners' side....more...

nhl- Wrapping up the CBA

from 640 Toronto, After another week of intense, hard work the talks between the NHL and the NHLPA will conclude tomorrow. The NHL executive committee has a scheduled meeting on Monday to go over the "deal in principle"; ratification will not happen by the owners on Monday, it may occur as early as Tuesday, depending up the review and recommendation of the NHL executive committee. Surely they will not turn away the deal. The NHLPA at this time does not have a ratification vote scheduled, but all that could change after tomorrow's meetings.

nhl- More on Babcock & the Wings

from Sportsnet, Mike Babcock was not in Detroit meeting with the Red Wings on Thursday.
Instead, he was playing in a charity golf tournament held by the University of Saskatchewan. But one thing's for sure, his ties with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks have indeed been officially cut after two seasons and three years in Orange County. He rejected a one-year offer from new Ducks GM Brian Burke on Wednesday night.
"I'm not going back to Anaheim," Babcock said Thursday from his off-season home in Emma Lake, Sask., before leaving for the golf tournament. "Coaching in this league is a fit. They didn't know me good enough obviously to offer me more than one year and I respect that."
Burke has heard the Detroit rumours.
"You guys have all speculated Detroit," Burke said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. "I have not heard from Detroit. And if in fact they have gone ahead and hired Mike Babcock without the courtesy of a phone call, I would be shocked. I would regard that as a shocking breach of etiquette."
Technically, the Wings do not have to call the Ducks for permission to talk to Babcock because he's without a contract, but Burke obviously feels the Wings should still inform the Ducks as a matter of principle....read on...

nhl- Repairing the Damage

from Jeff Gordon and the St. Louis Post Patch, There will be NHL hockey this fall. As expected, the NHL and the NHL Players Association are wrapping up a tentative agreement.
The owners and player will have to approve the new collective bargaining agreement, of course, but both sides have little choice. It’s time to get back to work or get on with their lives.
Significant damage has occurred and the NHL faces huge challenges with its “re-launch” in 2005-06. It could take years to rebuild its business and move the league back on an upward track.
Just look at all the damage that must be repaired:...continued...

nhl- No BOG meeting Scheduled

Responding to the LA Times article that the CBA had been agreed upon, we now have this:

"The media report that the NHL and the NHLPA have an agreement in principle is simply not true," Bernadette Mansur, the NHL vice president of communications, said in an e-mail statement.
"There is no BOG (board of governors) meeting scheduled at this time," Mansur said.

nhl Agent Thoughts

from Canada East, One of hockey's top player agents is at home in Saint John enjoying some leisure time with family. But with the announcement of a new collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and its players association imminent, his vacation could be cut short.
"My vacation could last a few more weeks or it could be over this weekend," said Saint John native J.P. Barry, who is co-managing director of the IMG agency's hockey division.
Based on what he's been told by insiders, the 39-year-old said he expects a tentative deal to be announced Friday, although it may take until Monday or Tuesday for both sides to hammer out an agreement in principle....read on...

nhl- Burn with more Cancer

via TSN, Pat Burns is battling cancer -- again.
The New Jersey Devils' head coach was declared cancer free by doctors in April -- after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer last year -- but sources tell TSN a routine blood test in May showed Burns now has a different form of cancer.
Burns, who had been living in Florida, returned to New Jersey last week and underwent surgery in a hospital there for the removal of the cancer. A source close to Burns said the former cop turned NHL coach will now spend some time at his home in New Hampshire and get a new round of chemotherapy treatment in Boston over the course of the summer.
"Pat wants everyone in hockey to know he's still alive and well and while this is a setback, he's strong, he's fit and he's going to fight this and win," a source close to Burns told TSN. "His spirits are good and he's confident. Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils have been fantastic through all of this. Lou has been right there with Pat every step of the way."

nhl- Talking CBA

From mumerous sources and remember, nothing official until the NHL and the NHLPA says it is.

  • A hard salary cap, likely just under $40-million with a floor of approximately $22-million.
  • Will not include a luxury tax, however revenue sharing will very much play a role in trying to sustain all teams' long-term viability. And while the revenue sharing component soon to be released will be more comprehensive, the most simplistic way to describe it is the top 10 teams will feed a percentage of their gross hockey revenues into a pool designed to prop up the bottom 10 teams.
  • Clearly, it's undetermined as to what dollar amount the higher revenue clubs can expect to contribute, however sources say these teams believe it will hover between $5-7 million dollars annually.
  • As a further means of ensuring player salaries do not exceed 54 per cent of league revenue, an escrow account as reported by the Ottawa Sun will be introduced, funneling a percentage of annual player salaries into a fund that will help the NHL balance future discrepancies between payroll and revenue.
  • What has also come to light in the last few days is roster size will remain at 23. A number that some teams will independently cut by one or two players in an effort to save money, or free up dollars for luring or holding onto players determined to have more impact on specific teams.
  • NHL training camps will be shortened by as much as 10 days with camps this fall expected to be a full 20 days, while still revolving around a nine-game exhibition schedule.
  • The minimum age for unrestricted free agency will remain at 31 for the first year of the deal, then fall to 30 for the following season, and drop to 28 for the final four years of the agreement.
  • Entry-level contracts will be subjected to even greater restrictions, with the maximum yearly salary limited to $850,000. In additon, performance bonuses for all players will be arrived at using three sets of standardized formulas for forwards, defensemen and goaltenders; and salary arbitration is expected to change to a major-league baseball type system, where the team and player submits a financial figure and an arbitrator must choose one or the other.

nhl- Not done Yet

from TSN, The NHL lockout continues to dwindle down to its final days and hours, but the new deal between the NHL and NHL Players' Association is not yet done, despite a report in the Los Angeles Times suggesting an agreement has been reached.
"It's an inaccurate report," an NHLPA spokesman told TSN.
This long and drawn out process won't actually be complete until every "i" has been dotted and every "t" has been crossed and representatives of the NHL and NHLPA sign off on the agreement, pending ratification.
And that moment, sources tell TSN, is definitely not going to happen today. The earliest projections of when that might occur are some time this weekend, although sources close to the NHLPA are suggesting it could easily carry into next week. The NHL has been targeting this weekend as the wrap up and even scheduled an NHL board of governors' executive committee meeting on Monday in New York City.
But that executive committee meeting will only happen as scheduled if the agreement is reached before then....more...

nhl- Iginla, We're Sorry

from the Calgary Sun via Slam, To no one's surprise, J.I. took a radically different approach than J.R. yesterday.
More than a week after Jeremy Roenick punctuated a charity golf tournament with an invitation for disgruntled fans to smooch his derriere, Jarome Iginla used his tourney to relay a slightly different message:
"We're sorry," said Iginla.
"I think everybody involved with this is sorry it took a year. All the people who this took jobs from, or had bars or restaurants ... it goes right down the line how it affected people in different cities. There's no question we're sorry. Hopefully we work together as a group and down the road learn from it and be better next time."
Cue the group hug. OK, maybe not....more...

nhl- One Last Fight

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, The NHL Players' Association is fighting for one last concession as a new collective bargaining agreement draws closer.
Multiple sources told the Sun yesterday that the players are making another pitch to the NHL, asking it to honour contracts from the 2004-05 season to keep the market from being flooded with free agents.
"My understanding is the players really want their contracts from last year to move forward. They've given in on just about every other issue and this is one they want to fight to the finish," said a league source.
But other sources said there's no way NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will give in to the request as it could cost owners millions in buyouts.
Meanwhile, there was talk a tentative deal could be announced as early as today, but the speculation now is it might be announced on the weekend in the form of a simple press release.
Sources say the two sides won't hold a major press conference until the deal is ratified by the NHLPA and the owners -- something that could take up to 10 days after the tentative deal is announced....read on...

nhl- LA Times, Deal Reached

from Helene Elliott and the LA Times, The NHL and the players' association have agreed in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement that will feature a hard salary cap linked to 54% of league revenue, a 24% rollback of existing contracts and qualifying offers, and a provision that will limit the salary of any single player to 20% of the team cap figure in any year, sources familiar with the labor negotiations said Wednesday.
The agreement, which is expected to be announced next week, also includes an NBA-style escrow provision under which 15% of each player's paycheck will go into an escrow account until revenue is calculated after each season. If league-wide spending on salaries exceeds 54% of revenue, the difference between the salaries paid and the negotiated percentage will be paid to teams from the escrow account. If teams spend less than 54%, the escrow money will revert to players.
Negotiators are estimating revenues will be $1.8 billion next season, down from $2.1 billion in 2002-03. The salary cap will be $37 million and won't include medical and dental benefits and pension payments. The floor will be about $24 million....more...

nhl- Turn down the CBA

Scott Walker of Nashville was just on Vancouver radio and said he believes the NHLPA will turn down the CBA porposal. Will be a very close vote.

nhl- Babcock headed to Detroit

from TSN, The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have a head-coaching vacancy.
TSN has learned that Mike Babcock has officially turned down the Mighty Ducks' offer of a one-year contract extension and sources say now that Babcock has indicated he won't be returning to Anaheim, he is headed to the Detroit Red Wings as their new head coach.
Babcock had a deadline of Thursday to accept or reject new Ducks' GM Brian Burke's offer of a one-year extension. Babcock had asked for a week to test the open market and has apparently found a multi-year position with the Red Wings. Sources say Babcock informed the Ducks Wednesday night he would not be returning.
Dave Lewis, who has been the Red Wings' head coach, met with Detroit GM Ken Holland on Tuesday and was told his situation would be clarified by week's end. Lewis's contract with the Wings expired on June 30. Sources say Holland is likely to meet with Lewis on Thursday, at which time it's expected Lewis will be told his contract as head coach is not being renewed.
That would pave the way for the Red Wings to hire Babcock.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

nhl- Stan's Bluelines

from The Maven and MSG Network,

  • Brian Burke was right to give Mike Babcock another shot (one-year-deal) at coaching Anaheim. But Babcock is wrong in stalling a week before giving his new boss an aye. Where, pray tell, does Babs – or -- his wonderful agent, Bob Brett think he’s going to get a better deal? With Central Red Army??
  • The word on tix prices is simple: Each team will decide how much to charge based on its needs-market.
  • One of the best reasons for Bettman, Inc. NOT to have anything to do with the Winter Olympics is the good and welfare of its Phoenix franchise. A Turin deal could kill the NHL All-Star Game at Glendale Arena in January. And that would be a shame all around. Our advice: Dump the Olympics; let the collegians back!
  • Bettman Inc. will be holding its collective breath over fan reaction to, A. The new, streamlined, still-to-be-unveiled league logo and, B. Form-fitting uniforms. They’re all part of the NEW NHL.
Read them all...

nhl- Wirtz, "It will go down in textbook history as one of the stupidest mistakes ever."

via the Chicago Tribune, Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz was optimistic Wednesday that the NHL and its players' union could reach a collective bargaining agreement in time to open training camps in September and start the 2005-2006 season in October.
But he remained bitter about the loss of the 2004-2005 season. He said of the players' demands that led to a breakdown of contract talks and a lockout, "It will go down in textbook history as one of the stupidest mistakes ever."
And he said he would examine the new economic package thoroughly before signing it.
"Lord knows how long it will take to paper this, but we won't have a comma or colon misplaced," Wirtz said. "I told the commissioner (Gary Bettman) I don't care if it's 500 pages long. I will sit and read every page before I put my name on it."
There have been reports the agreement might be even longer than 500 pages.
"Hopefully, we will conclude this negotiation by training camp," Wirtz said. "A one-year hiatus from hockey is too long."

nhl- Learning the CBA

from Spector and Fox Sports, As a new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA draws nearer, some media attention has focussed of late on the timetable general managers will have to restock their depleted rosters.
It's believed that, once the new CBA has been ratified and officially implemented, GMs will have a two- to three-week period to familiarize themselves with the details of the new deal.
That means the unusually high number of free-agent signings anticipated for this summer, as well as possible trades, likely won't occur right away.
That's understandable, for the usual rules of off-season wheeling-and-dealing won't apply this time around. General managers, and the owners to whom they answer, will need time to determine how to work the new CBA to their advantage.
As previously reported in this column, it's believed the new agreement will implement a team-by-team hard salary cap, ranging from a ceiling of approximately $38 million to a floor of $22 million.
Furthermore, it's expected a luxury tax will also be part of the new cap system, possibly set at $30 million. It's also believed entry-level salaries and bonuses will be severely reduced and capped....read on...

Sad News

Paula Weinmann, the St. Louis Blues fan who had been missing since Saturday, was found dead today. Her body was dumped in a grassy area behind a Belleville, Illinois store. News agencies are reporting it as a homicide.
I am sure I speak for many hockey fans in saying may she rest in peace and the people responsible for this tragedy be found and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

nhl- More on Dave Lewis

from TSN, It certainly looks as though the Detroit Red Wings are about to make a coaching change.
Amid published reports that the Wings are considering hiring Mike Babcock, who has until Thursday to let the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim know whether he's willing to accept a one-year contract offer from new GM Brian Burke, Detroit is set to let its head coach Dave Lewis know his fate in the next 24 to 48 hours.
"I talked with (Dave Lewis) yesterday," Wings' GM Ken Holland said today. "I told him I would get back to him before the end of the week."
That certainly sounds ominous for Lewis, who has been the Wings' head coach since Scotty Bowman retired. Lewis's contract expired on June 30th and the mere fact it wasn't automatically renewed with the CBA negotiations approaching a conclusion is a strong indicator Lewis isn't likely to be back with the Wings
In fact, TSN has learned that Lewis' agent has contacted other teams around the league looking for openings for his client.
...more...

nhl- Shooting for the Weekend

from Sportsnet, It is far from breaking news that a deal in principle between the National Hockey League and the Players' Association is about to be announced, but the target date appears to be slowly coming into focus.
If the pace of discussions continues, sources tell Sportsnet, it is possible an agreement pending ratification could be declared as early as Friday, or over the weekend.
The NHL has called its executive committee into New York for a meeting on Monday, at which point the commissioner and his legal team hopes to be in a position to hand over the agreement.
Ratification of this agreement is by no means a slam-dunk and is believed seven-10 days will be required to complete the process, which would zero in on mid-month as the beginning of a mammoth re-launch.
Much has been speculated over the past several months as to what this new CBA will contain and separating fact from fiction won't be possible until the new document is unveiled....more...

nhl- Bob AWOL

from CBC, As the deal that would put NHL players back on the ice inches toward completion, Bob Goodenow, the head of the players' union, is absent from the negotiation table.
A source inside the talks told CBC he hasn't seen Goodenow in quite some time and that NHLPA president Trevor Linden and union director Ted Saskin have been driving the negotiations on the behalf of the players for the past month.
It's uncertain what Goodenow's absence means, but it comes on the same day as a player voiced his displeasure with union leadership....read on...

nhl- Crosby talking to Swiss Team

from CP via CJAD, Hockey phenom Sidney Crosby is in contract talks with Swiss club Lugano, The Canadian Press has learned.
With the NHL set to unveil a new collective bargaining agreement with tough new limits on entry-level contracts, a source said Wednesday that Crosby has been offered a three-year deal that could be worth as much as $10 million US including a multimillion-dollar signing bonus by the Swiss club.
Crosby's agent Pat Brisson of IMG admitted negotiations were taking place. But he would not confirm any financial details.
"I can't deny that we've been in serious talks with Lugano," Brisson said Wednesday from Los Angeles. "It's a serious offer. We're keeping in mind that Sidney's goal is to play in the National Hockey League but we have to listen.
"Not knowing what the entry-level restrictions will be in the upcoming CBA, we need to cover our bases," Brisson added....more...

A fan until the End

James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a television showing his beloved team in action.
Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night.
The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays.
Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition television played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.
"I couldn't stop crying after looking at the Steeler blanket in his lap," said his sister, MaryAnn Nails, 58. "He loved football and nobody did (anything) until the game went off.
"It was just like he was at home."
Longtime friend Mary Jones called the viewing "a celebration."
"I saw it and I couldn't even cry," she said. "People will see him the way he was."
Smith's burial plans were more traditional - he'll be laid to rest in a casket.

nhl- Make no Mistakes

from ESPN, The NHL lockout may have been painfully pointless, but in the end it remains the easy part of the journey.
Now, on the eve of a historic new accord that will bring an end to the longest labor stoppage in the history of pro sports, comes the hard part -- restoring a once-great game to its place in the sporting universe. More to the point now comes the challenge of trusting the owners and players that ran this historic game into the ground to revive it.
So much work to do, so little faith in those who must do it.
"If we make a mistake here we're sunk," one NHL coach told ESPN.com this week.
It's always easier to tear something down, to smash something to smithereens, than it is to build, to create from nothing. Look at the ease with which players and owners allowed a dispute over how to divvy up $2.1 billion in revenues to swallow an entire season and jeopardize the future of a league that's been in operation for the better part of a century....more...

nhl- Ray Ferraro, Say What?

Ray Ferraro: "A player that you may sign for $600,000," he says. "If he's getting a $600,000-offer and he's going to live in for example, Pittsburgh, or he can live in Vancouver, a lot of people are going to choose Vancouver, because it's such a great city."

nhl- Leaf Luch Talk

They say a press release may come out from the NHL saying they have agreed upon the CBA, then ater the BOG meeting and NHLPA vote, a full blown press conference will be held. All this may start early next week.

nhl- BOG Meeting next Week

from Stan Fishcler and MSG Network, IT is about to happen.
IT -- big-league hockey's peace pact -- is being tied together in a neat package as we speak.
My sources tell me that next Monday (July 11) an ownership Executive Committee meeting will be convened in New York by commissioner Gary Bettman.
At that time, seven or eight of the executive committee members will prepare the final collective bargaining agreement document for presentation to the 30 owners later in the week for final ratification.
Although some big market teams may be unhappy with aspects of the completed CBA, all 30 are expected to approve the pact.
In addition, it must be approved by the NHL Players' Association membership. If all plans jell, ratification is possible by the middle of next week or the following week at the latest.
What you should know is this: never in the history of professional sports has a group of negotiators worked so intensively and so hard for so long as representatives of the NHL and its Players’ Association....continued...

nhl- CBA Update

from 640 Toronto, This time tomorrow we should know when the CBA will be completed, today is a big day in writing up the documents and it will determine if they are done by Friday or if we are looking at next week. One source close to the deal said that the big issues are done and put to bed, they are working on issues now that are "unexciting" but they are taking a long time to get written up, sounds like loopholes are being found in the perdiem and the composite stick buying issues. After a deal in principle is announced, then it will take 5 to 7 days for both sides to ratify the CBA, then GM's will need at least a week or maybe two to figure out what they can and can't do cap wise. August is going to be quite the month for hockey, plenty of UFA signings, the draft and the Canadian Olympic camp in Kelowna. The 2005-06 season unofficially will kick off on August 1st.

mlb- Big Target

General Motors World Headquarters is only 4612 feet from home plate at Comerica Park.
Impossible to reach with a homer, but a nice background for the MLB All-Star Game.



nhl- Babcock to Wings?

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The Detroit Red Wings are pursuing Mike Babcock as their new head coach, replacing Dave Lewis, according to two National Hockey League sources.
Babcock, 42, coached the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the 2002-03 Stanley Cup in his rookie year behind the Ducks' bench.
His team slipped to 12th place in the Western Conference the next season, and the final year of his contract was wiped out by the lockout and expired last week...read on...

Also, Changes for the Wings, from the Detroit News, Hockey's deep freeze is about to thaw.
All indications are a new labor agreement could be days away, and the NHL will return this fall.
But will Hockeytown fans warm up to the new product?
The game will undergo modifications, but the Detroit Red Wings could face wholesale changes.
The captain, Steve Yzerman, could retire. Defensemen Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher and goalie Curtis Joseph could be sacrificed to meet the new salary cap.
One position is certain, though. Brendan Shanahan has emerged as a power broker in the league.
Even while negotiations lagged, players and management were in agreement on one item: The game needs to be juiced....read more...

nhl- Make these Changes

from the Arizona Republic, Instead of those clever, artsy paint jobs on goalie masks, the space could be sold to potential league sponsors, like Budweiser and Miller Lite.
Proceeds would go toward lowering beer prices for patrons, which would certainly make the game more friendly and exciting to us.
Now, we don't want to get players or anybody else important to the game, injured here. So, we suggest that a large, mean, somewhat inebriated fan be selected at random at a game in each team's arena during the season.
This large, mean, possibly dangerous fan who is selected completely at random from a list of ex-cons who happen to be in attendance, would be given a full-speed shot between periods at their choice of Commissioner Gary Bettman or union boss Bob "Boy, That February Deal Sure Looks" Goodenow.
We believe fan involvement is a big part of giving back.
more...

nhl- Avery not Happy

Sean Avery speaks: "We lost a whole season for nothing," he said. "Absolutely nothing."
"I am furious at Bob," Avery said.
"Bob thought he was bigger than he was," Avery said. "Bob brainwashed players like me."
"To be honest with you, most of us didn't know what was going on," Avery said. "Guys had no control over the situation. Guys were out there giving interviews and we didn't know the real story. Bob embarrassed a lot of guys."
Hockey players love fighting bigger fellas, but Avery said even they didn't understand the size of their opponent.
"We underestimated how rich the owners were," he said. "Nobody thought they would be willing to burn a season."

read the LA Times column by Bil Plaschke.

update 6:30pm The NHLPA Responds:
"Whenever a tentative agreement is reached, the NHLPA will have meetings where all players will be invited to attend and every player's questions will be answered by Bob and the members of the executive committee prior to a ratification vote by the full membership taking place," NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said in a statement. "The proposed agreement and everything that has occurred will be reviewed in great detail. Throughout these negotiations players have received and had more access to information than ever before.
"Given the complexities of all the CBA issues, we will not respond to media speculation and other commentary, prior to the terms of any new agreement being released and the upcoming player meetings."

nhl- The Ticket Sellers

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, "It's a whole new game."
Is it ever. . . .
The new slogan for the relaunch of the National Hockey League could hardly have been better chosen, for no one has the foggiest notion what will happen once they actually drop the puck.
That the lockout, now in Day 294, is about to end, is not in doubt. The hints have been there for weeks that a deal - first reported by this paper - has been reached in principle, a deal rather shockingly below the $42.5-million salary cap the players spit on only last February after initially saying they would never, ever agree to a salary cap of any kind.
Ah well, a newspaper columnist, surely, is the very last person who should take shots about having to eat one's words.
The world outside the negotiating sessions long ago gave up caring anything about the actual details of any new agreement, and fans of the game wished only to be informed when both sides, owners and players, were ready to come back. That announcement is now a mere formality.
Having already attempted suicide, very close to successfully, by becoming the first professional sport to pass on an entire season, the NHL isn't about to pull its own plug by tempting another.
Already, teams are moving on the presumption that the madness is over....more...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

nhl- Casino wants the Blues

from KSDK News, Casino Fortune, an online casino company, has told Blues owner Bill Laurie the company is ready to buy the Blues and the Savvis Center.
However, St. Louis Blues President Mark Sauer tells NewsChannel 5 he has not seen any bid from the company, and that company's typically do not send out news releases before attempting to purchase teams. He says the company is, at the least, taking an unusual route in what it says is an attempt to buy the team...more...

nhl- Wait until next Week

from The Maven and MSG Network, The panic is on.
Media panic, that is.
Everyone from Al to Luke to David is rushing to tell us that the long-awaited armistice in major league hockey’s civil war is over.
Some of the more optimistic will tell you that the deal could be done by the end of this week.
I don’t believe it even though the Canadian Press is telling us that “the end is finally in sight.”
Just reading that and some of the other glib prognostications -- one out of Toronto says it will be over “very likely this week” -- soothes my hockey-missing heart.
I thoroughly understand the rush to be first with the news.
Then I remember how in early June 1944, an Associated Press teletype operator in London tapped out news of the invasion of Normandy.
The only problem was that the message went out on June 5 and the Allied troops didn’t land until a day later. (Fortunately the accidental newsbreak was killed almost before it could do any damage.)
What you should know is this: never in the history of professional sports has a group of negotiators worked so intensively and so hard for so long as representatives of the NHL and its Players’ Association....continued...

nhl- ticket Prices

from CP via TSN, The NHL lockout is finally close to ending and clubs will need to lure back fans. Here's a look at what all 30 teams plan to do in terms of ticket prices:
Anaheim: Season ticket prices have been rolled back an average of 5.28 per cent.
The biggest cuts are on about 1,500 seats that drop to $9.50 US from $25 a game. Prices have been frozen through 2006-2007.
Subscribers will get free parking, food and non-alcoholic beverages for the first three home games.
A new 2-for-1 scheme allows a family of four to buy four seats (buy two, get two) for a total of $47 a game.

"We believe our new pricing structure combined with our price rollback will keep NHL hockey affordable in southern California," said Bob Wagner, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer.
Atlanta: No change....more...

nhl- working at the Rules

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, As the NHL and NHL Players' Association continue to inch their way towards a tentative deal, Colin Campbell is working feverishly on the league's on-ice facelift.
And that's because when commissioner Gary Bettman takes the podium to announce the lockout has ended, the league understandably wants to put off-ice turmoil behind it and focus on improving the game on the ice.
A package of rule changes meant to open up the game will likely take centre stage.
"We're just trying to make the game better," Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations, said Tuesday in Toronto. "Our thought process is that we want to reward the offensive part of the game.
On the labour front, the two sides met from 12:30 p.m. EDT to 7 p.m. EDT in New York on Monday and went at it again 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
A tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement is expected within the next week.
What's taking so long? Sources indicate there are still some issues — none perceived as critical — being negotiated while the actual process of drafting the long and complicated document is slow and laborious.
An announcement could come as early as Thursday but could also drag into next week....more...

nhl- Leafs Lunch

Bill Watters today mentioned the CBA will be announced this week. Is optimistic it will be Thursday, let if sit for a week and let the MLB All Star Game take center stage, then kick off the "New NHL" next Thursday with more hoopla.

ncaah- The Berenson Boundary

The NHL's recent experimentation with the "Bowman Blueline" will be followed this October by a trial of the "Berenson Boundary".
The committee also reviewed a request from the University of Michigan to allow the school to use an experimental rule in exhibition games. The proposal, promulgated by Michigan head coach Red Berenson, would change the attacking zone boundary from the blue line to the center ice red line after the traditional zone is gained legally. So, if the attacking team gains the traditional attacking zone legally under current rules on side, the attacking zone expands to include the space between the blue line and the center ice red line.
The committee approved the proposal and extended the option to any school or conference that would like to try this in exhibitions, not just Michigan.
The "Berenson Boundary" will likely be on display, under game conditions, on Sunday afternoon, October 2, when Michigan plays host to the University of Toronto in exhibition action at Yost Ice Arena.

Missing Person

Roger Farina from the Fan Strikes Back informed me that Paula Weinmann has been missing from the St. Louis area since Saturday morning.
Paula is 5’7”, 230 pounds, light brown very short feathered hair, and she has three tattoos located on the outside of her lower legs: a Blues hockey note, the letters “STL” and a palm tree.
For more information visit Roger's site.



nhl- Getting Rich

via CP, Junior hockey star Sidney Crosby has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with the sports drink company Gatorade.
The 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., is the most highly-anticipated NHL prospect in years because of his talent and accomplishments early in his career.
Crosby joins Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore, former NHL star goalie Patrick Roy, NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, baseball's Derek Jeter and international soccer star Ronaldinho as athletes who have endorsed Gatorade.
Crosby signed with Reebok in March in what was reported to be a five-year, 2.5-million US dollar endorsement deal for equipment and apparel

I wonder what part of the Detroit area Crosby plans to live in?

nhl- Your Vote

from The Maven and MSG Network, In this election year, hockey fans will have an unprecedented opportunity to “vote” on an extraordinarily important issue.
The cause is simple; it’s all about making the NHL product significantly more entertaining than the game was in pre-Civil War days; meaning the 2003-2004 campaign; otherwise known as ancient history.
What makes this so vital to rank-and-file fans is that Commissioner Gary Bettman has a PROPOSED menu of rule changes.
They have been discussed and rehashed more times than Emeril, The Chef, dices beets.
And because Bettman, Inc. wants the fans to be happy -- once more! -- the commissioner, his sidekick, Colin Campbell, and the newly-formed competition committee will be paying close attention to fan voting habits.
So, without further adieu, I’m presenting the PROPOSED rules along with my views.
Then, it’s up to you to tell the Commish how you feel about NHL quality control....more...

nhl- Restoring Faith

from the Palm Beach Post, A deal is imminent. But for the NHL and its 30 teams, labor peace means the real work is just beginning.
A collective bargaining agreement that will end the lockout is expected in seven to 10 days. Repairing the damage caused by a full season without hockey is certain to take years.
"The people in the game have to realize it's the sixth, seventh or eighth sport now," said Boca Raton-based sports agent Larry Rauch, who has represented Hall of Famers Brad Park and Rod Gilbert. "It can come back but not without a major effort by everybody."
Even the most intense hockey fan "has been emotionally scarred," said Jupiter's Rick Horrow, a sports business specialist and visiting professor at Harvard. "He has to be brought back with great care, and he needs to understand that five years from now, hockey will be better for what has happened."
The Panthers aren't waiting for a new contract before getting started. Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said the team will start a "guerrilla marketing" campaign this week built around the slogan, "There's a cold front coming in." Another campaign will begin after the agreement is ratified, and yet another in advance of training camp in September.
"It's almost like launching an expansion team again," Yormark said of the team that was born in 1993. "There's going to be a lot of curiosity and excitement about hockey coming back, and we need to feed off that. We need to duplicate what we did in Year 1 at Miami Arena."...more...

nhl- On the Verge

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, It could happen later this week. It could happen next week. But all indications are that the National Hockey League lockout, now in its 293rd day, is finally about to come to an end.
While a handful of systemic issues are still being negotiated, sources say that the two parties are drafting a collective agreement that will bear only a faint resemblance to the previous contract between NHL owners and players.
The terms of surrender for NHL players will be onerous. When 11th-hour attempts to negotiate a deal last February fell apart, the NHL was offering the players a $42.5-million salary cap. Not only will that number be lower in a new deal, it will also include player benefits, bonus payments and other team costs that could further reduce player compensation.
Don Meehan, president of Newport Sports Management Inc., which represents more than 100 NHL players, including National Hockey League Players' Association president Trevor Linden, believes that an agreement is close.
"Our office is most anxious to understand and appreciate all of the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement," Mr. Meehan said carefully. "I suspect we're looking at a very condensed period to accomplish everything we have to do under the critical-dates calendar of our existing CBA. Time will be short."...continued...

nhl- Resign, both of You!

from the Denver Post, Commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Bob Goodenow should resign.
Yes, Bettman "won" this battle by getting a salary cap, and many of his most vehement critics unreasonably blame him for deep-seated ills tied to a hockey mind-set he neither invented nor unquestionably embraced. But the commissioner still should quit.
The prolonged shutdown has made the league a laughingstock, and, more important, in the long run affected its revenue streams. One of the many examples: ESPN didn't pick up its option to televise games in the 2005-06 season. The network or some other cable operation might be in the picture when the NHL begins playing, but it will be under terms similar to the league's embarrassing revenue-sharing, limited exposure deal with NBC.
The league needs a fresh start, and Bettman would be a divisive influence in the healing process.
He can resign as a "success."...read on...

nhl- Watching from Afar

from the London Free Press, While their professional colleagues are girding for the most frantic period of their lives, a pair of London player agents will be looking on with detached interest.
The most complex collective bargaining agreement in sports history is drawing nigh. When the NHL and the NHL Players' Association finally shake hands after the only completely abandoned season in North American pro sports history, it will be like a goal-mouth scramble, times one million.
It also will be the largest musical chairs game in history with player agents and general managers playing the music as more than 400 free agents seek teams.
Under a salary cap to be announced, big-payroll teams will be cutting talent adrift while the former small-market teams will be juggling rosters to accommodate one or two marquee players. Who is worth what -- and to whom -- will turn it into hockey's equivalent of establishing the European Economic Community.
Expect rage from players once the expected deal carves their salaries into relative slivers. Expect lawsuits from various quarters. And expect the NHLPA, which is coming out second-best, to place executive-director Bob Goodenow on the bubble....read on...

nhl- Will fans come Back

from the Nashville City Paper, Kiss and make up already!
A collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League Players Association and the owners is about to be forged. More importantly, it will finally end a lockout that erased the 2004-05 season and left a black mark on the once proud sport that will take a long time to erase.
By all accounts, the new deal should be announced before next Friday, and this new deal will bring a new world order to the NHL. The smaller market teams will be able to compete on more equal footing with the larger, free-spending franchises.
The numbers vary depending on who you’re talking to, but most agree there will be these major changes:
• Salary cap somewhere between $33-40 million per team.
• Minimum payroll in the high 20s of low 30s for each club.
• One-time 24 percent rollback in player salaries.
• Salaries tied to between 54 –55 percent of the revenues.
read on...