Breaking Sports

Saturday, July 16, 2005

blog- Pre-Opening

Saturday evenings and Sunday's are usually the slowest time of the week at Breaking Sports.
Therefore, I invite you to test out the new blog. It is not complete by any means, but it is in working order. Changes will be taking place in the next few days, so please note the site is still undergoing changes.
If you want to leave a comment on the new site, you will have to enter a user name; your email address is optional.
Also, if you want to comment about any problems or concerns with my new home, just leave a comment here or under any of the posts on the new blog. I have yet to set up an email address for the just released blog.
Cick here to go to the hockey section.

update 10:45am, Sunday, I have posted today's hockey related threads to the new blog. Again, I welcome your comments, both good and bad. As always, my intent is to satisfy the reader.

nhl- The league needs Crosby

from the Winnipeg Sun via Slam, The drooling over Sidney Crosby has officially begun.
The NHL is finally back, and most folks -- with the exception of the players themselves -- are happy about it.
It was quite evident early on that the big men with sticks would be taking a salary cut, and that's exactly what's going to happen, possibly along with some significant changes to the game.
The real fun part, however, begins next Thursday when the NHL holds a draft lottery for the rights to Crosby, who sounds like he'll be sticking around North America for the next couple decades or so.
What a way to kickstart the new NHL....continued...

nhl- Interest in the Pens

from the Tribune-Review, The announcement of a deal reached in principle between the NHL and the Players' Association has translated into phones ringing in the Penguins' ticket office the past two days.
Although they've been selling tickets for several weeks in anticipation of a settlement to the labor dispute that canceled the 2004-05 season, activity has picked up since Wednesday, according to team spokesman Tom McMillan....more...

nhl- CBA benefits small market Teams

from the Winnipeg Sun via Slam, Ron MacLean enjoys movies, but he can't wait to get back into Coach's Corner on Saturday night's.
MacLean is thrilled the NHL lockout appears to be over and ready for Hockey Night in Canada to return.
With the new collective bargaining agreement expected to be ratified next week, MacLean says there are going to be huge challenges for general managers in terms of putting teams together.
"For all the talk about how this is going to show what general managers are all about, their hands are also going to be tied," said MacLean, in town for the Canadian Track and Field Championships. "The trade deadline will be a whole different kettle of fish. Teams will be in a real jam when they have injuries at the deadline because of cap concerns. The game is going to change and players are now going to pick teams by what places they want to live."
MacLean reiterated the new economic order may one day bring the NHL back to Winnipeg, but cautioned that roadblocks remain....read on...

nhl- Operating under a Cap

from the Herald Tribune, "We've always operated under a cap in Tampa and it's called a budget," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said Friday from New York, where he spent the day in informational meetings about the new collective bargaining agreement. "Sometimes it's disheartening, but we've had plenty of success. Now, we won't have to worry about playing against the team that can spend freely to get whatever player they want."
Feaster made it clear that the Lightning will do everything in their power to bring back as many players as possible. The first concerns will be unrestricted free agents Nikolai Khabibulin and Dave Andreychuck along with expected restricted free agents Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko.
"We're the defending Stanley Cup champions and for a reason," Feaster said. "We went to great lengths and effort to bring back almost everyone for last season and we're planning on doing the same thing again."...more...

blog- Live and Learn

I am so ready to start the new blog but have discovered a small problem that cannot be fixed until Monday.
Therefore, Breaking Sports continues. Sorry, but it will be worth the wait.

nhl- Big trouble for small Markets

from the Toronto Star, Upon further review, the new collective bargaining agreement is looking better for the likes of Tomas Kaberle, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier and potentially disastrous for the small-market teams it was supposed to help.
A source close to the negotiations confirmed a published report yesterday stating that not only does the free agency age drop to 29 next summer, but players under that age who have eight years of NHL experience, will also qualify for unrestricted status. In the summer of 2007, players who are 28 or have seven seasons will qualify. In 2008 — and for the remainder of the agreement — players who are 27 or have seven seasons of experience will qualify.
Also, for purposes of player tenure, last year's aborted season will count as a season played for all NHL players.
All of which means next summer is shaping up to have the strongest free agent crop in the history of the game. Along with Iginla, Thornton, Lecavalier and Kaberle, other potential unrestricted free agents include Martin St-Louis, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Jose Theodore and Ed Jovonovski.
Under the previous CBA, the Leafs wouldn't have had to deal with Kaberle as an unrestricted free agent until after the 2008-09 season. Because he will have been an NHLer for eight years once his contract expires next summer, Kaberle will now be unrestricted.
Liberalized free agency was one of the concessions the owners made in exchange for a salary cap, but critics suggest that this will do nothing to protect the small-market teams. What it does mean is that the effects of arbitration, one of the league's biggest concerns going into negotiations for a new CBA, will not drive salaries for players in their mid 20's because those dollars will now be driven by unrestricted free agency....more...

nhl- Pay cut for Bob

from the Toronto Star, At least one NHL player believes union head Bob Goodenow should face the same 24 per cent salary rollback negotiated into the new collective bargaining agreement.
"If we have to take a 24 per cent pay cut, why shouldn't he," one Detroit Red Wings player said yesterday.
Several players contacted yesterday wavered on the question, or did not wish to get involved all together.
But Goodenow's salary — a reported $2.5 million (all figures U.S.) a year and one of the richest among union heads in North America — is expected to be a topic of discussion next Wednesday when NHL players descend on Toronto to vote on the new labour deal struck with the owners.
In fact, the players may even put the question to Goodenow directly: if it's good for the players, why shouldn't it be good for you?...continued...

nhl- Silence Please

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, Bob Goodenow has issued a stern warning to NHL players and agents in the wake of the new collective bargaining agreement: Keep your mouths shut.
After summoning both groups to Toronto for meetings next week to outline the contents of the CBA, the NHL Players' Association boss asked players and agents not to make any comments until they've seen the agreement.
While Goodenow admitted to the players and agents that some portions of the CBA leaked to the media have been correct, he also maintained there is misinformation making the rounds and asked them to be careful.
And the word is Goodenow might not even be in New York next week to shake hands with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the announcement to make the agreement formal because the meeting with agents continues Friday in Toronto.
"Goodenow just warned that we might want to be careful about what we say because nobody has seen the whole CBA yet and not everything that is being reported is correct," a league source said yesterday.
"I guess he knows a lot of guys are upset with this deal, but he believes they need to see the whole thing before they make any comments on it. I don't find this kind of warning a big surprise ... You have to expect it."...more...

nhl- Holding an Advantage

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, The biggest advantage falls to the truly wealthy teams -- the likes of Toronto, Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Detroit and so on.
Right now, for nothing more than the outlay of some cash, they can trim all the dead wood, bring in the top-line free agents and create a much better team than anything their less wealthy counterparts can put together.
And then, with that nice head start, they can make their charge down the level playing field....read on...

nhl- Jagr gets it All

via the NY Daily News, When Glen Sather gets his CBA tutorial Monday, he'll happily learn that the hard cap includes a soft spot for the Rangers and their star winger Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr is the only player in the NHL whose salary for the upcoming season - reduced by the collectively bargained 24% rollback - exceeds the $7.8 million individual player cap. But the Daily News has learned that a grandfather clause on existing contracts ensures that he'll get the entire $8.36 million he's due.
And that, for the purpose of calculating their room under the $39 million team cap, the Rangers only will be charged the amount they pay him - approximately $4.4 million.
The Washington Capitals agreed to pay $4 million of Jagr's annual salary as part of the January 2004 trade that sent him to New York. But that $4 million won't be charged against the Caps' cap. However, it will be included in the league-wide calculation of total player costs, which is capped at 54% of league revenues and reimbursable to owners via a periodic escrowing.
Further, the grandfather clause ensures that all of the NHL's other top-salary players will get all the money they've contracted for - less the 24% rollback - in any season in which a league revenue dip lowers the individual player cap below their salary number. A feature of the new CBA limits individual player salaries to 20% of any year's team cap.

Friday, July 15, 2005

nhl- A year off for Nothing

from the Miami Herald via the Mercury News, The NHL lockout is over. South Florida responded with scattered cheers and the exclamation, "What is Randy McMichael doing at a Waffle House and driving a 1984 Coupe de Ville? A `74 El Dorado or `04 Escalade, that's how you roll in a Caddy. ..."
It wasn't worth it. Every NHL player and agent knows that now. NHL owners might admit it, too, if they find their rinks still half-empty three years from now.
The league lost a season, fans and a television contract. Much worse, many NHL team staffers lost jobs.
And now NHL Players Association executive director Bob Goodenow should lose his job.
Goodenow isn't foolish enough to walk into next week's ratification vote waving this collective bargaining agreement like Neville Chamberlain. But he was foolish enough to spend five years firing up the membership for what became The Charge of the Ice Brigade. "On into the valley of economic death rode the 690 ..." Millionaires with short earning lives lost a battle of wallet attrition to billionaires for whom teams are often watercress on their business plate. Who knew?
Goodenow's only insulation are the tremendous gains the players made during the last CBA's 10 years. Teams run by skittish, hardheaded management helped that.
What about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman?
Bettman's control never has been as direct or as comprehensive as Goodenow's is in the NHLPA. These negotiations represented the most power the NHL Board of Governors has given Bettman at any time. Many NHL moves blamed on Bettman were planned, executed or being moved forward inexorably by the time he took office....more...

blog- Almost Ready

The new blog will debut in less than 24 hours. I am spending the rest of the day and night putting on the finishing touches so Breaking Sports may suffer from less updates than normal for the rest of the day.
I will release the new blog address very soon. One thing to note, in order to comment on the new blog, you will have to go thru a very simple registration process.
As is my policy, even on Breaking Sports, I will never release any names or ip addresses, but I will be able to delete and ban comments that I consider spamming, annoying or vulgar.
I have not had to do much of that in the past, so I do hope to avoid doing any banning but will not hesitate to do so if need be. Breaking Sports has been one of the more "mature" blogs around and I plan on keeping it that way.

nhl- Yzerman Update

Steve Yzerman was just on WDFN radio in Detroit. Good chance he will be at Wings training camp. Over the next couple of weeks he will sit down with the Wings and determine if he fits into the cap for the Wings.
He was asked if he might retire, he said he will be going to training camp. Dodging the question a bit, but he needs to know where he would fit in and how the team looks.
If the team has to buyout a key player or would not be able to acquire a player because of him, then he would not come back. Said he will never play for another team, it is either the Wings or retire.
So it looks like a wait and see approach, may be a few weeks before we know. But again, he said he will not play with another team, that has already been decided.

nhl- 05-06 Salaries

I have had a few email requests for team and player salaries for the upcoming year. I use the stats provided by TSN.

nhl- More on broadcast Rights

ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro said on Thursday that he has spoken with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and let him know ESPN would be willing to pay, but that the $60 million figure is no longer realistic.
"I don't know exactly what we would pay yet," said Shapiro. "We are looking into that, but it is definitely south of sixty million. But we would pay a fee, at least it would give them something."
Back when it dropped its option, Shapiro said he would be willing to pay a "modest" fee, something under half the $60 million.
Shapiro said Thursday that the league will eventually be better for the lockout, but that in the near term "they are damaged and the rights fee has to reflect that."
Shapiro said Bettman "wants to do the deal we had on the table and that deal's not there anymore. We have a good relationship and when they are ready to talk about alternative models, we'll be right there."
But he didn't sound sanguine about his prospects of getting the rights. When asked whether the league would get its asking price, he said: ""Somebody will [pay], there's always somebody, whether it's Spike or someone else. Everyone said they have nowhere to go, but there's always somebody."

nhl- Yzerman

Listening to the Babcock press conference and Ilitch was asked about Yzerman. Ilitch responded that they want Steve back but he has suffered some serious injuries lately and the decision is up to Yzerman. He also stated we should be hearing from Yzerman in the very near future.
Reading between the lines, if appears to me Yzerman may not be coming back to hockey. This could be it for Steve.

update 11:04pm, Babcock was on WXYT radio in Detroit and said Yzerman would be welcomed back, but the decision is up to Steve. He has been through a lot of injuries but his leadership would be welcomed. Steve has a decision to make.

update 12:00pm, fro the Detroit Free Press, Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said he expected to soon know more about Yzerman's intentions.
"We all want to have him come back, but he's 40 years old and he's had some serious injuries the last couple of years," Ilitch said. "I don't know what the extent of those injuries are today. But he's a very well-conditioned athlete, probably one of our best. You never worry about his shape.
"It's up to Stevie. If he wants to play another year, he'll play another year. He'll have to make that call, and I think it's going to be shortly."

nhl- Big net Possible

from the Edmonton Sun via Slam, Don't be the least bit surprised if the new NHL includes oversized nets when the puck drops for the start of the 2005-06 season.
While it's no secret that the NHL's competition committee, chaired by director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, has been contemplating several rule changes and innovations - many of them tested this spring - there's persistent chatter that the possibility of implementing bigger nets is gaining momentum....more on some other possible changes.

nhl- I've got a Secret

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun via Slam, All through the terminally tedious negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, there were promises of the dawning of a new age.
Some were explicit. Some were implicit. But with a great degree of consistency, the message was clear.
Once it had a new deal, the National Hockey League would work with the entire hockey community to create a grand new vista.
Yeah, right. Perhaps it's going to start next week. It sure hasn't started yet.
As soon as the league reached an agreement with the NHL Players' Association, it announced that the terms of the deal would not be revealed until next week.
Why not?
What could possibly be gained by such secrecy? This deal is going to be ratified. Everybody knows that. And even if it weren't, what's wrong with fans knowing about a deal that got turned down?
Does the league figure it has far too much publicity and needs to turn away fans?...more...

nhl- Portion of buyout to count against Cap?

from the Toronto Star, If a player has just the 2005-06 season remaining on his contract, he can be bought out at two-thirds of his salary without it counting against the cap. If his contract extends beyond next season, a portion of the buyout in subsequent years will go against the cap.
This was from an artcle explaining the many options the Leafs may have with players.
If anyone has any more information about this, please pass it on.

nhl- Ovechkin decision Soon

from the Washington Post (reg. req.), But whether those fans will see Ovechkin in a Capitals uniform this season remains unclear. Signing Ovechkin, the team's No. 1 overall draft pick last year, is the club's top priority, but the 19-year-old left wing has complicated matters by agreeing to a deal to play for Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League next season.
Ovechkin's agent, Don Meehan, said Thursday his client has until Wednesday to back out of that contract and sign with the Capitals, and that his decision is not contingent on the NHL having a completed collective bargaining agreement by that date. However, Meehan said he would need to know the precise language of the CBA before he would advise Ovechkin to void his Russian deal....read more, mostly about the state of the Caps.

nhl- Realistic Option

from the LA Times via the Northwest Herald, They wiped out a season, they wiped out more than 300 days, and they wiped out a $60 million TV contract with ESPN.
Now that the NHL appears to have gotten that pesky self-immolation phase out of its system, how does it go about picking up the pieces of its shattered national image and drag its scarred and battered face back onto TV screens across America?
If it takes the advice of sports media analysts and experts, the league will go back to ESPN.
"I think there's certainly a likelihood that they will renegotiate their deal with ESPN," said Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports. "Perhaps at a lower number and probably with fewer games. That's a speculation, but I think ESPN2 is a perfect carrier for hockey, and I think it works for both parties."...continued...

nhl- Iggy wants Partnership

from the Toronto Star, "Since I've been in the league, there hasn't been a great relationship between management and the players," Iginla said. "I think it has hurt everybody. We'd be at the Olympics, the all-star game, the Stanley Cup and all everybody was talking about was Armageddon. Both sides weren't working together and I think that really hurt the on-ice product."
He was short on specifics, but NHL star Jarome Iginla thinks the NHL needs some ground-shaking changes to the on-ice product if it wants to bring back fans and lure new ones after the longest labour dispute in professional sports history.
And Iginla will have a unique chance to make his feelings known later this summer as a member of the league's new competition committee, which will make recommendations for rule changes to the board of governors. The board of governors is expected to rubber stamp the committee's recommendations....read on...

nhl- League needed to Die

deom Newsday, While NHL players finish collecting their remaining teeth after a labor agreement so one-sided it's like a punch to the choppers, two questions come to mind.
Can hockey make a comeback, even to its formerly middling standing?
Does anyone beyond a few frenzied fans really care whether it does?
The initial answers would seem to be "no" and "no shot."
Yet, if there was one positive aspect of unrealistic players and greedy owners killing a season, wasting millions and alienating all their fringe fans, their time in the self-imposed penalty box got them to thinking. Apparently, some players removed their heads from the sand just long enough to team with management types and dream up some wild rule changes that might reinvigorate a game that had grown stale, boring, staid and dull, and that was on a good day.
The truth is, hockey needed to die before it could be reborn....more...

nhl- FA will hurt NHL

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), Lou Lamoriello, the only legitimate hockey man invited by the NHL to sit on its side of the table in executive-committee labor negotiations with the NHLPA, voiced strenuous objections to granting radically liberalized free agency to the players, a source familiar with the sessions yesterday told The Post.
Indeed, we're told the Devils CEO and GM issued a passionate plea on behalf of lowering unrestricted free agency no more than one year, to age 30, citing how further reduction would inflict grave damage on the traditional fabric of the game.
Lamoriello's concerns, however, were ignored by commissioner Gary Bettman and the other executive members of the Board negotiating party, who, we're told, were only too willing and eager to trade free agency in exchange for the PA's commitment to accept a hard-cap link to payroll beginning at 54 percent of the gross.
Of course Lamoriello objected. Because now, with the NHL adopting a system under which players with eight years of NHL service (counting the stillborn 2004-05 as a year) can go on the open market next summer, and players with seven years in the league becoming unrestricted in 2007, the Devils stand to lose 25-year-old center Scott Gomez (whose rights they would have owned through 2010-11 under the old CBA) after two more years. They stand to lose 24-year-old defenseman Paul Martin following the 2007-08 season, when free agency kicks in at either 27 years old or seven years of service....continued...

nhl- Looking Ahead

via the Toronto Sun-

- TODAY-MONDAY: NHL general managers gather in New York for a crash course on the new collective bargaining agreement.
- WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY: Players meet in Toronto to discuss and vote on ratification of CBA.
- THURSDAY: Owners meet in New York to vote on ratification of CBA. Lottery held for entry draft.
- JULY 30: Entry draft held in Ottawa.
- AUG. 1: This is the date believed by most to be the latest possible start for free agency signings.
- SEPT. 8-11: Possible start for training camps.
- OCT. 5: Possible start to regular season.
Note: There also will be a window for clubs to buy out players, probably beginning not long after the CBA is ratified and lasting not more than a week or 10 days. All dates subject to change.

nhl- Leafs should blow it Up

I am beginning to see a pattern here. Columnists calling for teams to blow up the roster, start fresh and do it the right way. With the one time buyout option available at a discounted price, will teams take advantage of that to gut their team and begin fresh?
One thing is certain, there are going to be some great players available in a few weeks.
The story I am referring to is from the Toronto Sun if you would like to read it and yesterday Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote the Blues should blow it all up.

nhl- Bob did OK

from the Toronto Sun, Today's truth is yesterday's heresy, with a little breathing time added in.
It was 11 years ago that Bob Goodenow was being roasted for negotiating a one-sided CBA that gave the owners just about everything they could imagine. Now, after a 301-day lockout, many of the same observers, already proven incorrect, are saying the same thing.
There are a handful of popular beliefs swirling around the soon-to-be ratified deal. I called around to some of my favourite contrarians, inside and around the game, to gauge whether the latest slew of unassailable truths was just that.
Unassailable truth No. 1: This is a terrific victory for the owners.
Bottom line: It was a reasonable correction of the market.
"I think you're overstating the supposed drubbing the players took," one general manager said.
Players making the league minimum will see substantial wage increases thanks to a new bottom of $450,000 US. Thirty million, a rough midway point between the upper and lower cap, divided by 20 players means an average salary of $1.5 million, only $300,000 removed from the untenable days that led to the lockout....read on...

nhl- Some saying No

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, "My suggestion to the players would be that they vote from the heart," said agent Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey. "I can't tell them how to vote. These players are the ones who are going to have to live with this agreement. It's up to them to say Yes or No to it. An agent can't tell them how to vote. That's the players' right to decide."
In the wake of the agreement which includes a $39 million (all figures US) salary cap, there was scuttlebutt that suggested whole teams are preparing to vote No.
The talk was groups of players from the Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers are all prepared to shoot down the new CBA based on what they've read in newspapers and heard on television.
Remember, it was only eight months ago many of these players stood side by side and issued repeated statements that they would never accept a salary cap. That tune changed quickly once it was realized this lockout could well drag into next season and beyond.
You can't blame some of these players if they're embarrassed by what took place.
Nashville Predators player rep Scott Walker was on TV spouting off about not accepting a cap the night Saskin was negotiating one in Niagara Falls with NHL VP Bill Daly....more...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

nhl- Drug Policy

via CP, The NHL's new collective bargaining agreement will include a stiff drug-testing policy, a league source told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.
The policy would see players subject to a minimum of two drug tests a year with no advance warning. A player would earn a 20-game suspension for a first-time offence, a 60-game ban for a second offence and a permanent suspension from the NHL after a third violation.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow suggested the league and union would introduce such a policy after the two appeared before a U.S. congressional hearing on steroid use last May.

nhl- More CBA Details

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, Reaction to the new CBA has been muted because few people in hockey know exactly what's in it. That will start to change on Friday, when the first wave of general managers visit New York to get a primer.
That process will continue Friday through Sunday and it won't take long for the executive summaries the GMs get to find their way into the public domain and we'll all see what there is to see.
In the meantime, some additional CBA details are filtering out for us to consider.
One of the most significant is that the players' share of revenue will rise as revenues rise. We all know it starts at 54 per cent, but it goes up to 55 per cent at $2.2 billion, 56 per cent at 2.4 billion and 57 per cent at 2.7 billion.
Another key thing to understand is the cap figure. Yes, it's $39 million, but that doesn't mean you can't have players on your roster whose annual salaries add up to more than $39 million.
You just can't have them on your roster for the whole year. That $39 million figure is not some mythical paper-number, it's how much a team can actually spend on salaries in one year....read on...

nhl- Will parity Rule

from CP via Canada.com, The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins were separated by more than $60 million US in payroll in 2003-04, a gap the NHL will never again face thanks to the league's new economic landscape.
But will that evening of the financial field translate into more parity in the NHL? "I believe it absolutely will," New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello said Thursday. "From Day 1, it will give an opportunity (to everyone). All you have to do is parallel to another sport and what transpires year to year in football."...more...

nhl- Heat on Chelios

from MSNBC, Comments from Wings star about Jewish commissioner certain to offend.
It didn't take long for Chris Chelios to get angry at Gary Bettman, again.
Chelios, who made threatening remarks about the NHL commissioner and his family during the NHL's 1994-95 lockout, reportedly told the New York Daily News that Bettman should 'get the gas' following Wednesday's tentative agreement between owners and players to end the 301-day lockout.
Chelios said the commissioner should be fired once the collective bargaining agreement is signed.
"It's not so much the deal," Chelios told the paper. "It's all about the lies and separating the players from the league and making us look bad because we have to defend ourselves."
Then, using language that is certain to offend, especially given Bettman's Jewish heritage, Chelios added: "That alone should be just cause for him to get the gas after this is all done."
There is considerable hostility on the players' side in anticipation of a rank-and-file meeting and ratification vote on a CBA that will reduce their earning power.

Well, Chelios made these remarks no later than July 10th, and today MSNBC is picking up the story. I for one do not think Chelios intended the remark to be of racial nature. It appears to me that MSNBC thinks the remarks from Chelios were made within the last 24 hours.

nhl- All about the Flash

NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol said he “hopes that there will be some significant changes announced in the next two weeks that will open up the game and bring more of the beauty that we saw” at the ’02 Salt Lake City Games.
USA TODAY’s Michael McCarthy reports that the league “will make a strong push to telecast as many games as possible” in HD.

nhl- Don Cherry on WDFN

Don says the guy who are going to get hurt are guys in the middle of the pay scale. They will get replaced by cheaper guys and the lower paid guys will actually make a little more.
Says the tag up rule will help out and no touch icing. Shootouts will be OK during regular season only.
Hopes the refs don't call a million penalties a game. Let some things go. Game will get real boring if they call every hook and grab.
Don said Yzerman needs to cone back, will take a pay cut but Stevie needs to lead the way.
Don also donated $200 to the radiothon.

nhl- Bettman on Detroit Radio

Gary Bettman on WDFN radio while their radiothon is going on to kick Leukemia's Butt.
Difficult and painful time for us and the fans, glad it is behind us. Coming back with the right system along with some rule changes. Looking forward to a partnership with the players.
Want the skill players to show their skills, better flow and wants the game to be more offensive. If revenues go up cap will go up. A range has been established to keep every team competitive.
The issue of animosity is over blown, we are all together, too much emphasis on how much was being spent. Everyone getting excited to work together.
Believes a new national cable deal will be made. NHL had no resources to promote the game the last three years, just tried to keep afloat. They were really struggling. Time and energy will now be used to market the game.
Economics are now be adjusted, we will be in line. He believes in the fans and the game, believes in four months game will be very strong.
Bettman donated $5000 for the cure of leukemia!

nhl- Stan looks Ahead

The Maven looks into the future: The first key piece of business will be arranging the Entry Draft, starting with the Lottery, tentatively slated for July 21.
One team official tells me that it will be weighted in favor of the teams with the worst records over the past three years.
“Those worst teams,” says the official, “will get three lottery balls; then two and one. Teams such as the Flyers, Red Wings and Maple Leafs will get one ball apiece. The Rangers will get three balls.”
The actual Entry Draft itself is likely to be held in Ottawa on July 30, according to some reports.
This would allow the league to parade its next hoped for superstar, Sidney Crosby, to the media and public and thereby launch its long program of marketing the “New” NHL.
Following that league vice-president Colin Campbell will submit a long list of rule changes to the Board of Governors for its approval.
Conceivably, such innovations as larger goal nets, shoot-outs, double – four-on-four and then three-on-three – overtimes, elimination of the center red line and an obstruction crackdown are being given serious consideration....read on and the first part of the story is old news, but continue about 1/3 page down.

nhl- More CBA Details

Updated CBA details from CP via TSN,
  • Players salaries cannot - on a league-wide basis - take up more than 54 per cent of revenues; In ensuing years, the cap levels will be decided by the previous year's revenues. This can cut two ways: if revenues grow in future years, the cap will move upward in the players' favour, perhaps much higher than the $42.5-million hard cap offered by the league before the season was cancelled; but if the NHL gets hammered by the fallout from the lockout, the cap could be even lower than $39 million for the 2006-07 season.
  • Revenue-sharing where the top 10 money-making clubs donate to a fund shared by the bottom 15 teams.
continued...

nhl- New League Coming

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, The danger is clear: If a team spends near the cap (and commits to a handful of pricey, long-term contracts for prominent players) and then finds that the cap is reduced by 25 per cent in Year 2 of the deal, what do they do then? They could find themselves trapped — dealing with a significantly lower cap, but stuck with contracts that may not be able to extricate themselves from.
It is a dilemma that general managers need to anticipate this year already, because if they tie themselves down to too many of the aforementioned types of contracts, there will be no easy escape the way there will be this year, when teams can buy out overpriced players' contracts, without it counting against their respective salary caps.
Accordingly, it is logical to expect both sides — agents and managers — to play it safe and sign short-term deals. That way, they can buy themselves time to see how the new system evolves....read more...

nhl- Fire both of Them

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Every war has its casualties and the longest labour struggle in the history of professional sport better produce two more — National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow.
For the NHL to begin the long, challenging thankless task of winning back its disenchanted fans, Bettman and Goodenow need to do the right thing for the game by falling on their swords and gently exiting the arena. And if they don't, then it's up to the people who sign their pay checks to show them the door.
More than anything else, the game and the industry desperately need to heal right now and the continued presence of Bettman and Goodenow at the controls will needlessly slow that process....more...

nhl- No more Excuses

from Al Strachan and the Toronto Sun, The National Hockey League decided it would not trot out its "Game On" approach this time around.
There were other options, but the 2005 slogan will come later. The best suggestion might be, "No more excuses."
Under the new collective bargaining agreement that finally was hammered out between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association, the owners got what they wanted -- a salary cap of $39 million US with a floor of $21.5 million.
They got 24% rollbacks from the players and a whole bunch of other concessions that should provide them with what they always have said they needed -- cost certainty.
At the same time, the deal gives their general managers what they have said they needed -- a level playing field.
So now, if all those owners and general managers are to be believed, fans are about to get what they got last year when the NHL was shut down for the season -- a 30-way tie for first place....continue...

nhl- Blow up the Blues

from Jeff Gordon and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I’d blow the team up and start over. Mindful of this team’s woeful talent depth, I’d ask the outgoing owners to buy out both Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk (due a combined $13.3 million this year) to create massive cap room.
Rather than sign free agent Chris Pronger for the 20 percent maximum -– somewhere between $7.5 and $7.8 million -– I’d use that money to buy one strong defenseman and two capable goal-scorers.
After all, defenseman Barret Jackman should be captain of this team and defenseman Christian Backman is also an All-Star in the making. Even without Pronger, Pleau could build this team from the blue line out....continued...

nhl- Refs Happy

from HockeyRefs.com, “I’m excited, not only for our guys and their families, but also for the fans,” said veteran referee Don Koharski. “I think we are going to see a better product on the ice and the teams in small markets are finally going to have a fair chance to compete.”
Unlike the locked out players who sought refuge in other leagues, including nearly 400 in Europe, most of the zebras were off the ice all season.
Only a handful of referees – the 12 on minor league contracts in the AHL – skated, while the others looked elsewhere for employment and the ones who couldn’t find a job pursued government unemployment benefits.
“The officials endured a long battle of looking for other employment to support their families and I, as others, am excited to get back to work,” said minor league referee Bob Langdon. “The new look NHL is going to be an exciting product.”...read on...

nhl- Ziegler comments on CBA

from Times Community, The NHL is back.
And one man with experience is ready for the return of checks, face-offs and five-holes.
"As a fan, I'm elated and pleased that they finally got through what I'm sure was a very difficult period," said John A. Ziegler. "Now we can look forward to great games."
Ziegler understands the obstacles involved to reach a labor agreement in the NHL, which the league and players' association accomplished, in principle, Wednesday.
He was the NHL president from 1977-92 and helped resolve the players' strike in 1992, which threatened the NHL playoffs.
The details of the new six-year collective bargaining agreement won't be relased until the players ratify the deal, which is expected sometime next week.
The agreement will put an end to the lockout that wiped out all of last season and return NHL players to the ice on schedule this fall.
Ziegler declined to comment on any possible terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, which certainly will include the league's first salary cap because he still does work for the NHL and is an alternate governor for the Chicago Blackhawks....more...

nhl- Sponsors on thin Ice

from Media Daily News, The NHL may have ended its year long lockout with its players, but many problems remain. One of them includes making good some of its league sponsors. Sports analysts expect major league sponsors such as McDonalds Corp., Anheuser-Busch, DaimlerChrysler, Mastercard International, Southwest Airlines, and Nextel to perhaps renegotiate their deals, lowering some yearly license fees by 25 percent or even 50 percent for next season. At the top end, NHL sponsors pay anywhere from $8 million to $20 million per year as league sponsors.
"Sponsors have taken some financial hits," says one media agency executive who buys sports programming. "They could get rebates of anywhere up to a half of their sponsorship fees."...continued...

nhl- Talking Cable

from Media Life, The NHL and the players' association have agreed to end their 306-day lockout. Now hockey's big challenge is finding a new national cable TV partner.
Should it fail, the already battered sport may risk a slip into total oblivion, with fans already angry over the lockout and advertisers feeling burned by the canceled season.
In May, ESPN, which had carried the hockey league since 1992, declined an option worth a reported $60 million in rights fees for the 2005-06 season. The league does have a revenue-sharing broadcast agreement with NBC, but that is for only a limited number of games plus the Stanley Cup Finals. Most games are carried on regional sports networks such as FSN, NESN or YES.
"With exception of the broadcast networks, ESPN is like being in the cannon of legitimate sports events," says Bob Thompson, the director of Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. "Losing ESPN is like you suddenly lost a major American seal of approval."
Neal Pilson, the former head of CBS Sports and now the president of Pilson Communications, tells Media Life he thinks the league will work out a cable deal.
"I know there are cable carriers that want to carry the NHL," he says. "I'm confident the league will have a national contract."
After months of worrying whether there would even be a 2005-06 season, the NHL can now turn its attention to getting that contract....more...

nhl- Team to Beat

Still very early, but what team is in great shape right now. On the other hand, a few teams are in deep trouble. What do you think?

Looks like the Sharks are in great shape. From Inside Bay Area, The San Jose Sharks emerged from the NHL deep freeze Wednesday like a team on a 5-on-3 power play. There are a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is 301 days of pent-up energy, emotion and paper-clip counting.
It would figure, though, that all NHL franchises would be acting humble, contrite and just a little bit worried about what the future holds following the settlement of the longest work stoppage in the history of North American pro sports.
Sorry. Not the Sharks. Oh sure, they faked some internal sobriety as best they could. But CEO Greg Jamison and general manager Doug Wilson barely could contain their euphoria about how this long-awaited settlement should shape up for their particular franchise....more...

nhl- Cities Hopeful

A few articles on how different cities are reacting to the CBA announcement.

Can Columbus recover.

Pens will benefit.

Flyers concerned about fans.

From an email that an Avs fan sent: I would try to summarize the reaction here in the Denver area, but, as you might expect, there's just too much to capture. It is the only thing being talked about on every sports radio station, every TV station had it at the top of their newscast (not just the sports segment). Hockey is hugely important in this area, as you know, so it's hard to capture it. But I'll tell you who's really happy... the sports bar owners across the entire Boulder-Denver six-county area. Hockey is a staple of TV viewing in places of business like this throughout the season.

Colorado Businesses happy.

nhl- Wings set to announce Babcock Signing

Wings have scheduled a 10am press conference for Friday to announce the Babcock signing.

nhl- Rule Changes

I have received emails from readers of Breaking Sports asking to bring up rule changes. These readers would like to know the thoughts of hockey fans on some of the changes being discussed. Following is from ESPN; what do you think?

Although changes must be approved by the league's board of governors, expect some of these alterations: Goaltenders' equipment will be downsized significantly, including the width of pads, which will be 1 inch narrower to a maximum of 11 inches. The center red line is likely gone, although there is resistance to this move. Nets will be moved 2 feet closer to the end boards. Goaltenders will be restricted from playing the puck directly behind their own goal. There will be a hybrid no-touch icing rule that will allow linesmen to wave off an icing call on an attempted pass. Teams will not be allowed to ice the puck during a penalty (the faceoff will return to the penalized team's zone and they will not be allowed to make personnel changes). Tag-up offsides will return. Any player shooting the puck out of play in his own zone will be assessed a minor penalty (currently only the goaltender is subject to this rule). A five-minute 4-on-4 overtime will be followed by a three-minute 3-on-3 session, and then a shootout series of penalty shots to make the tie game obsolete. Finally, the league will once again try to enforce its existing rules on obstruction, hooking and holding, especially away from the puck.

nhl- Now fix It

from ESPN, Now comes the fun part -- listening to people who can "fix" hockey.
In fact, hockey has been fixed, in that veterinarian sort of way. It has been stripped of even its mild import in the bigger sporting picture, saddled as it is with a distrustful public, a scornful media, and a television deal that comes straight from Cable Access Channel Z.
But since this lockout was all about 10 or so hard-line owners and their unleashed commissioner getting what they wanted at all costs, hats off to them. Preferably with their heads inside, true, but you get what you can at times like this.
Still, since this is the parlor game du jour, let's see if we can't fix hockey too. Especially since our solution is easy to understand and implement.
To start, Bob Goodenow needs to be fired. And in summation, Gary Bettman needs to be fired, too....continued...

nhl- Looking for Holes

from ESPN, Even as photocopiers and laser printers work overtime to produce copies of the new agreement that will spell the end of the longest labor stoppage in North American pro sports history, forces on both sides of the National Hockey League's 10-month-old dispute will begin the task of trying to tear the document to shreds.
No surprise there. It's the job of GMs and agents and now the new suit on the NHL block, the capologist, to poke holes in the new CBA. It is their job to push and prod and check for signs of weakness, look for loopholes and shortcuts and fissures that will best suit their own constituents. In short, the league and its players have engaged in a 10-month exercise in building an airtight capsule in which their game might exist and thrive. Now it's time to find out if it leaks....more...

nhl- Your Opinion

Time for you to leave your comments on the CBA. Are you happy with the CBA? Will your team improve, suffer or does it really matter.
Will the NHL become the sport we all want it to be or will it suffer from lack of interest.
When you respond, it would be great if you could mention the team you are a fan of.
Wanted to let you know 19,702 people visited Breaking Sports yesterday. Also, you may not realize it, but your comments are being read by many influential people in the hockey world.

nhl- Welcome to the Nightmare

from the Toronto Sun via Slam, All right, NHL fans, here's a message from NBA fans everywhere: Welcome to our nightmare.
To be fair, there are some things about a salary-cap system that hockey enthusiasts are going to like, now that the owners and players have agreed in principle to a new contract.
But the fact is, after close to 90 years, NHL fans must alter their thinking in terms of how their favourite teams operate.
Every runny-nosed 14-year-old with a calculator and a reasonably accurate list of players' salaries will know what works and what doesn't. In the NBA, trade rumours pop up all the time and can come from just about anywhere.
A fan, or a reporter, or a team employee will float the idea of a trade that could work, from a financial point of view. Fans get talking about it over the internet. Media members start debating the merits. The next thing you know, it's a full-fledged trade rumour that general managers are being asked about, even though there may have been absolutely no discussion between the two clubs that have been identified.
Say goodbye to the notion of talent-for-talent being the driving force in most trades. Say goodbye to the notion of trading a current star making a lot of money for a bunch of draft picks. It's all about salary-for-salary now. Get used to it.
The NHL wanted a cap system, but here's something the league quickly will discover: GMs will be under far more scrutiny....read on...

nhl- Talking Game

from USA Today, To get back on its feet, the NHL will have to solve its TV problem. The league has lost most of its national TV presence, with networks now refusing to pay multimillion-dollar rights fees to carry its games.
ESPN dropped the league this year after 12 seasons. The network is only interested in a new deal "that would have us both equally sharing any risk," according to spokesman Mike Soltys. NBC, meanwhile, has a limited two-year deal that depends on revenue sharing rather than rights fees. Starting in January, NBC will air seven regular-season games, six Stanley Cup playoff games and Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
But executives at Spike TV told USA TODAY they've met with the NHL several times and are interested. "We are glad to hear the labor situation is resolved and we look forward to speaking with the NHL in the near future," says David Schwarz, spokesman for Viacom's cable network aimed at 18- to 34-year-old men....more...

nhl- Don't Blow It

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, So let's move forward. I'm much more interested in what's next for the NHL. I want to see if the gentlemen who run this league and compete in it (on the ice and in the executive suites) have the intelligence, the sincerity, the ambition and the creativity to take advantage of a unique opportunity.
The NHL's "before" photo was unsightly and downright ugly, from the bloated payrolls to the boring games, to the absurdly high ticket prices. That league was choking on its own excess.
And now the NHL can give us an inspirational "after" photo.
The NHL has a rare opportunity to reinvent itself. If your previous product was a disaster, and your reputation a joke, then the chance to start all over again in a second-chance rollout is something precious, to be handled with care. The NHL won't get a third chance. The NHL isn't going to win back old fans, and recruit new ones, with a predictable, formatted approach to entertainment....more...

nhl- Bettman smelled Weakness

from the Toronto Globe and Mail, Some day, when they're writing the story of how big league professional hockey players lost their clout, the events of last February will loom large.
Yesterday, the National Hockey League and its players' association announced they had finally settled on a new collective bargaining agreement. It's a true partnership now, both sides will claim, which is fine and dandy just so long as you like and trust your new bosom buddies and are secure in the belief that they're competent businessmen.
Historically, the players have been none of the above when it comes to the owners, for darned good reason. But they'll have to do their best to make this shotgun marriage work because they have no choice in the matter. So much of their power, their leverage, has evaporated....continued...

nhl- Welcome to the Show

from the Toronto Star, Jon Spoelstra has an idea for how the NHL could recover from one of the most venom-laced work stoppages in pro sports history: make an offer to basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.
"They'd get worldwide publicity and they'd let fans know that they were still alive," says Spoelstra, a marketing expert who wrote Ice to the Eskimos and is a one-time president of the New Jersey Nets.
"Who cares if he can't skate? Just put him in net with his size-22 basketball shoes and pads that are 5 feet tall."
It's doubtful, of course, that the NHL would take Spoelstra up on his suggestion.
After all, it's not even a new idea — the minor league Indianapolis Ice three years ago signed 7-foot-7 basketball centre Manute Bol to a contract. (Bol sat on the bench for a period before leaving the arena because of swollen feet.)
Even so, Spoelstra's suggestion underscores the hurdles the league faces in the coming weeks.
The NHL may need to rely on the ridiculous to get noticed.
Think it was hard for the NHL to convince players of the need for a salary cap and revenue sharing?
Try luring back a 13-year-old one-time fan who got through last winter spending his free time playing Xbox Live or surfing the Internet instead of watching the neutral-zone trap for three hours....more...

nhl- The Deal

via the Toronto Star, When talks to save the 2005-06 season collapsed in February, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the offers from the owners were only going to get worse.
But did they? Looking back, the players did give up an enormous amount, but the deal they accepted yesterday was in many ways superior to the one they turned down in February.
"I don't think anybody will ever really know," said hockey's most powerful agent, Don Meehan. "We never got to that serious point the last time where there was the real horse trading that happened this time."
The players did endure a 24 per cent rollback and must put 15 per cent of their salaries in escrow, but that would have been the case regardless of when they accepted the deal.
The February proposal called for a $42.5 million (all figures U.S.) salary cap, but that figure remained constant without upward linkage to revenues through the six years of the deal. The February proposal wiped out arbitration, reduced qualifying offers to 75 per cent, included a luxury tax on top of the salary cap and no salary floor.
The current deal allows the cap to increase with increased revenues, arbitration has been restored, qualifying offers remain at 100 per cent and teams must maintain a minimum payroll. The league's pension plan has also been greatly enhanced, the players have the option to reopen the deal after four years and the minimum league salary has almost tripled to $450,000.
Just as importantly, unrestricted free agency will be liberalized in a big way, with the age going from 31 this summer to 29 next year, 28 in 2007 and 27 in 2008. Players entering the league this season will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after seven years in the league, meaning junior superstar Sidney Crosby will be able to go to arbitration after just four years and stands to become an unrestricted free agent when he's 25.
Sources also maintain that teams will not have to begin the season with a $39 million payroll, they must simply spend that amount through the entire season. There's also the sense that players who replace those on injured reserve will not have their salaries count against the cap unless they make more than the player they are replacing. So if Sundin breaks his leg just before the trade deadline, the Maple Leafs will likely be able to trade for an impending unrestricted free agent of equal salary to replace him in the lineup.
Teams will also be buying out many high-priced veterans at two-thirds of their current salary and it won't count against the cap. The more players who are bought out, the bigger the potential pot of money becomes for the players to share.

nhl- Why the Smiling

from the Toronto Sun, In Canada, the all-day television coverage began around noon and ended around midnight. It was all lockout all the time.
On American television, it was a few minutes on hockey and we take you to more Terrell Owens rumours. The popular ESPN program PTI began with the following words: "Sadly enough, we're starting our show with hockey."
By next week, when almost 400 NHL players become free agents, Canadians will be playing their own version of rotisserie league hockey from homes. This will be a summer feeding frenzy of hockey news unlike any before it -- for those who have been starving for too long.
In the U.S., where 24 of the 30 NHL franchises live in a constant state of peril, there are tickets to be sold, sponsorships to be found, a game to be re-sold to audiences that weren't that intrigued with it in the first place....continued...

nhl- Rich get Richer

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), The Flim-Flam men who sit on the NHL Board of Governors can dance their little jig all right, now that they've won their precious percentage-of-the-gross hard salary cap. But as they're doing their polka, they should understand they are dancing on the grave of hockey's long-standing culture.
The players weren't the only losers in this fight. The game lost, too. Some owners may have won — ironically, the big-market owners who never on their own would have instigated a lockout or endorsed a cancelled 2004-05 by far won the biggest — but the league as a whole has lost.
It's lost some relevance, it's lost some fair share of the marketplace, and, yes, those observations were made over and over again throughout the course of the lockout. Most of all, though, the league lost its uniqueness. From the beginning of time, successful hockey teams always were built on continuity, camaraderie, chemistry and character of a core unit. That time is over and done.
It's more than the imposition of a cap that will end the era, more than the percent limitation that will make it impossible for teams like the old Red Wings, Canadiens, Islanders and Oilers to exist, or even the latter-day Devils, Red Wings and Avalanche to retain their nuclei the way they have over the past decade.
It's the granting of unrestricted free agency either by the age of 27 or after seven years of NHL service (whichever comes first, beginning in 2008) that will change the faces of teams and the face of the sport forever.
The turnstiles at arenas may not turn so rapidly after last year's nullification, but the turnstiles to locker rooms — and, not incidentally, out of undesirable small-market locales — will never stop spinning. The small markets complained they couldn't keep their players after 29 or 30? Good luck keeping them after 26 or 27.
Two months ago, when it became clear to the players they could not get back on the ice this year without accepting a percentage-of-the-gross cap, they demanded mobility in return, demanded free agency at peak hours. The league never blinked.
The league never has cared about the game itself, but what it takes to win. The league never has appreciated excellence. This is a league long dedicated to the lowest common denominator....more...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

nhl- What will the Do

from Sports Illustrated, After 301 days -- roughly the length of the Franco-Prussian War, although with more entertaining news conferences -- the NHL officially wound up whipping the Players Association, which took a few systemic scraps from the owners that can they can use to line the woodshed where Gary Bettman had taken them.
For all the huzzahs about a new economic order, the whole exercise, couched in fancy philosophical terms, was nothing more than a redistribution of income. Even if it might take some time to rebound in a poisoned atmosphere, the NHL probably will be again, as it was before the lockout, a $2.1 billion business. At its core the most significant change in the CBA is that now the owners get a larger share of it....read on...

nhl- will Fans come Back

from Mitch Albom and the Detroit Free Press (thurs. edition) via the Charlotte Observer, Now that we know there'll be a hockey season, I have one question: Who's NOT going to go see it?
Red Wings fans will go. Are you kidding? Do you think the average octopus-thrower gives a hoot if there's a salary cap?
Avalanche fans will go. Do you think the guy in Denver with the Avs flag flapping from his window cares about arbitration?
And Canadians will go. Let's be honest. Is there a choice?
Come on. Be real. Hockey is back. Hockey fans are happy. That's as basic as saying the dog's bowl is full so his tail is wagging. All this talk that fans will reject the NHL upon its return, that they're angry, vengeful, that they've learned to live without it, I'm sorry, I'm not buying it. Sports is entertainment. It makes people happy. And for the most part, to quote singer Sheryl Crow, if it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?
Fans aren't. They will come....continue...

nhl- No time to Celebrate

from the Philadelphia Inquirer (Thurs. edition) via the Mercury News, The first thing Gary Bettman should do after officially announcing the end of the NHL lockout is obvious. The hockey commissioner should resign.
That's Bettman's reward for his so-called victory in the labor war against the players. Bob Goodenow, the head of the union, shouldn't have the opportunity to step down. He should be pushed. Actually, Goodenow should have been fired a long time ago. His failure to recognize the sea change in the sports business, where players in the NBA and NFL are essentially partners with their leagues, was the root cause of this whole mess.
It was an unforgivable mistake, one that cost players millions of unrecoverable dollars.
Don't look here for confetti, trumpet music or any other celebration of the return of the NHL. These people don't deserve praise for making peace after 301 days of unnecessary war. Bettman got his salary cap, but at the cost of an entire season of hockey and an embittered fan base. Goodenow got absolutely nothing in exchange for his constituents' sacrifice of a year of their careers....more...

nhl- It's about Time

from John Davidson and MSG Network, It's about time. And -- yeah, it's about time!
The principal negotiators of this new CBA for the NHL have really worked their tails off lately trying to find some common ground, which they did. But it took a lot of time, and a lot of question-and-answering over the last two-to-three months to learn how to understand each team's income and make a deal from there. Prior to that, there was not much going on, which is a shame.
The players need 51 percent of a vote to ratify this new CBA and the owners need the same thing, so I'm sure you're going to have people on both sides that don't like certain aspects of the deal. But you know what? That's just the way it is.
One thing that has to be understood is that a lot of people put in a ton of hard work to try to put this thing together. Nobody's won anything at all in my mind. Everybody's lost. So it's about time for the Sean Averys and the Chris Chelioses of the world to put a lid on it....continued...

nhl- Ten Key Topics

via CP, A look at what will be major stories in the NHL in the coming weeks:
1. Players must ratify the agreement in principle at a general meeting next Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto.
2. Owners must ratify the deal at board of governors meeting next Thursday in New York.
3. Draft lottery to be conducted at board of governors meeting next Thursday in New York.
3. Commissioner Gary Bettman holds "re-launch" news conference following board of governors meeting, with focus likely on new rules changes meant to open up the game next season.
4. Once CBA is offically ratified, teams will have a 10-day transitional period to determine player buyouts and qualifying offers.
5. NHL entry draft to be held July 30 in Ottawa, where hockey phenom Sidney Crosby will go first overall and finally get his day in the NHL spotlight.
6. Bettman, at some point, announces decision on Todd Bertuzzi, who remains suspended over the Steve Moore incident in March 2004. Will Bertuzzi get reinstated right away or sit out more games?
7. Free agency opens and massive player movement is expected with highest number ever of players available.
8. Canadian Olympic hockey camp in Kelowna, B.C. Wayne Gretzky and the boys get ready for Turin next February.
9. Training camp opens.
10. First official NHL game since June 2004 is played in early October.

nhl- Time to Rebuild

from the Sporting News via Yahoo, If votes by the players' union and NHL owners go well, the NHL could be up and running again by July 14 and a 2005-06 season will be on track. But between the post-ratification press conference and opening night, there is much to be done. New challenges face the league's 30 general managers and the players' agents, not to mention every team's marketing, PR and media relations staff.
Let's start with the draft. The league must host an event. No, it won't be the multi-day extravaganza of years past, but get those top prospects to Ottawa on July 30. New York would have been better -- a draft there would force the biggest media market in the United States to pay attention. Get Sidney Crosby and highlight tapes of his amazing Quebec league feats on morning shows. Give the cameras that shot of Crosby slipping on a sweater next to some beaming general manager who can actually feel the fate of his club changing as the crest slip over Crosby's suit. If all goes well, we'll known on Bastille Day who gets to lock up hockey's hottest prospect for years to come. The draft lottery itself must be an event....more...

nhl- The Turning Point

from CP via Slam, The turning point in the NHL lockout happened in the unlikeliest of places: Pebble Beach, Calif.
Famous for golf rather than hockey, it was in Pebble Beach from March 22-25 that the tide turned on the NHL's messy labour situation. And the NHL negotiators weren't even there. It was at a union meeting in California that NHLPA leaders and members of the players' executive committee finally agreed to negotiate a system with a hard salary cap linked to league revenues, according to sources.
When talks with the league resumed April 4 in Toronto, the NHLPA informed the league of their massive change of heart. It set off a furious schedule of meetings and triggered hours on hours of talks that eventually led to the deal that players and owners will vote on next week....continued...

I just went back into the archives of Breaking Sports and can see when the change occured. Take a look at some of the articles from the April 5th time period.

nhl- Sabre Fans Happy

from the AP via Slam, Doug Sitler was one of the few who made a little money off the NHL lockout. The disgruntled fan sold magnetic car ribbons that read: "I need my hockey fix(ed)."
Sitler finally got his wish Wednesday when the league and players' association reached an agreement in principle, signalling the end of a dispute that wiped out last season. Now Sitler, a Buffalo public relations consultant, is making plans to spend some of the profits from the more than 15,000 ribbons he sold on - guess what? - Sabres hockey tickets.
"I have 1,000 left over," Sitler said. "And I'll gladly throw them in the garbage and buy some tickets to the arena, that's for sure."...more...

nhl- Minnesota businesses Happy

from KARE11.com, For more than 300 days the state of hockey went without a professional game.
At one point this winter, it sounded as though the NHL players association and the owners had reached a deal and excitement grew among loyal fans and struggling businesses. But the talk of a deal was premature
Wednesday, though, a deal was struck that could have professional hockey players on the ice once again.
That is the best news Joe Kasel of Eagle Street Grille has had in months. He said the loss of one season put him on the brink of closure and another hockeyless winter would have sealed his fate, “We couldn’t have made it through another year. I would have lost everything that I invested, my house, my 401K, my heart and soul, it would have all been gone.”...continued...

nhl- Carolina Reaction

from the AP via the Charlotte Observer, Jim Rutherford walked into a room of reporters with a broad smile Wednesday. Finally, the man charged with building the Carolina Hurricanes' roster could talk about playing hockey again.
The question now is whether the end of the 301-day lockout that wiped out last season could mean better days ahead for a franchise that has endured a steady stream of financial losses.
"I don't want to get to the relief point yet until everything's finalized and it's ratified," the Hurricanes' general manager said just hours after the NHL and players' association announced an agreement in principle on a six-year labor deal. "But we've been waiting for a long time.
"What we went through was necessary. We had to get some controls on our business and certainly I'm hoping that's what this agreement does. It gives this franchise a chance to be stable and gives us a chance to have a successful franchise here in North Carolina for many, many years."...more...

nhl- The cost of the Lockout

from the CP via 940news, "At the end of the day everybody lost," said Wayne Gretzky. "We almost crippled our industry. It was very disappointing what happened."...nothing else needs to be said but read the whole article...

nhl- Draft Primer

Since this article is posted on NHL.com, it just might be the right formula for the upcoming draft.

The New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets have the best chance of drafting Sidney Crosby first overall in the 2005 NHL draft.
Each of those teams will have the maximum three balls in the lottery barrel while the other 26 teams will have either two or one each.
The lottery is expected to be held next week at an NHL board of governors meeting to ratify the tentative collective bargaining agreement reached Wednesday between the NHL and the players' association.
The NHL wants to have the draft July 30 in Ottawa, according to sources.
Each team will have a chance at drafting first overall - a departure from recent years when only the bottom five teams in the league from the regular season were involved in the lottery for the No. 1 pick.
This time around, teams' chances are weighted according to the following formula:...read on...

I could use your Help

Now that we are in wait and see mode for a week, I would like to start posting some stories about fan reaction in all of the NHL cities.
If you read an article about the fans in your city, please pass a link on to me by email (right hand sidebar).
I sometimes miss the local story so it would be much appreciated.

nhl- Players React

via TSN, numerous players react (will open WMP video) to the CBA agreement.

nhl- "Owners Win", Don Cherry

from Canada.com, Score one for the NHL owners, says Don Cherry.
"No doubt who won this contest," Cherry said Wednesday of the tentative NHL labour deal. "The Players' Association got a home run in 1994 and they tried to hit a home run now and they should have settled for a double or a single because there was no way they were going to beat the owners this time."
Cherry acknowledged the players won some concessions such as lower age for unrestricted free agency "but not much else," he said from Mississauga, Ont.
"They underestimated the owners' resolve and they pay the price now and they pay a big price."
He said those players complaining about their new deal and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow shouldn't be so quick to criticize, however, as it was Goodenow who helped get the players average annual salaries of $1.8 million US back in 1994.
"They've got to remember the guy who gave them the moon," Cherry said. "You've got to cut him some slack for that."...read on...

nhl- Roenick welcomes Deal

from the AP via Las Vegas Sun, Philadelphia Flyers center Jeremy Roenick said Wednesday that he's glad the NHL lockout is finally coming to an end even though the owners got the best deal and players will make less money.
"To be totally honest, I really don't care what the deal is anymore. All I care about is getting the game back on the ice," Roenick told The Associated Press by telephone.
"Unfortunately, it had to take a whole year to get to a point where we could have been last year. I'm just happy the deal is signed and we can get on with the game," he said.
Roenick heard about the settlement while playing a practice round at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at nearby Stateline at Lake Tahoe.
"It is not a good deal for the players. We are going to make a lot less money. But if it is going to make it more efficient for the owners to make money and for us to make the game better, then it is a good thing," Roenick said of the "owner-friendly deal."
"For the last 10 years, the players have made a lot of money and now we are in a position where everybody is going to make money," he said....more...

nhl- Who Won

from Bob McKenzie and TSN, The lockout is finally over, and now everyone wants to know who the big winner is in all of this.
Everyone is going to want to come out with a definitive answer, because that's what they're supposed to do on this day. Well, I'm not going to do it, and the reason I'm not going to do it is because we don't even have the CBA in hand - I can't sit here and say this side won or that side won.
What I am going to say is this. The NHL went out on a quest for cost certainty - and that mission was accomplished. The league got a salary cap and it also got linkage. But until we see specifically what each system issue is and how the day-to-day operations of NHL clubs are going to go, there's no way of predicting anything.
It could could be that the NHL has made a great economic deal, but individual general managers may have a tough time implementing the new rules and allocating the dollars. All that stuff has to come out in the wash....read on...

nhl- Not as bad as Thought

from Russ Conway and the Eagle Tribune and note, the article was written before the news of a new CBA but a great read, Get ready for the new Ice Age.
After leading pro hockey into a catastrophic meltdown, National Hockey League club owner negotiators and representatives of the NHL Players Association are on the verge of revealing their finished product for a new collective bargaining agreement.
They couldn't afford to miss another season.
The old contract was 145 pages plus 14 pages of notes and exhibits. This new one — for those who will need glasses — is an encyclopedia version: More than 300 pages and counting, which only goes to show what happens when too many lawyers are involved while the meter is running....more...

nhl- Fan Fallout

from the CP via Sportsnet, Fans have waited more than a year for NHL hockey. The NHL might have to wait that long, or longer, for some of them to return to the game after the lockout.
TV broadcasters in Canada have been selling advertising spots for 2005-06 hockey telecasts at a discount that assumes up to a 20 per cent drop in average audience ratings from the 2003-04 season, media buying experts said Wednesday.
That's broadcasters in Canada, where hockey is king. Imagine the discounts that could be needed to sell commercial time in the United States - if ESPN returns to the league, or another network takes on a slew of games while NBC runs occasional late-season and playoff matches.
Opinions vary on whether fans will flock back to arenas let alone their TVs. Some expect a honeymoon period in Canada and some U.S. cities when the game makes a long-awaited return, but the longer-term impact of the first sports labour war to cancel an entire professional sports season is unclear....continued...

nhl- Draper Responds

Draper on Detroit radio, said the PA executive committee will be meeting in TO on Tuesday of next week, players will gather in TO on Wed. to be updated and voting would take place either Wed. or Thursday.
He also stated he would be shocked if the deal is not ratified.
Said teams now need to go "over the edge" in marketing the game, especially in the smaller markets and teams that may be hurting.
In regards to the Wings, there will be changes. Money was never an option for the Wings, but now it is.
Asked about Bettman and Goodenow, no reason to bash them now. They both got a deal done but very disappointed there wasn't a season.
He wants the fans to know that this was an owners lockout, not a strike by the players. The players have given up a lot and hopefully the deal is broken down in the next couple of days and the fans realize the players have given up an awful lot.
Draper states keeping the core of the Wings together will be difficult, but the Wings will find a way to do it. Something new for the whole league, but Holland will find a way to keep the Wings very competitive.
Thinks the rule changes will allow players to play, hopes it gets back to the Oiler Days of the 80's.

nhl- Draft Lottery

Team 590 in TO reporting that the weighted lottery may not be the deal. It may be everyone will have an equal chance at Crosby.

blog- Problems

What a day to be experiencing blogger problems. Posting has been an issue for the last hour or so.

nhl- The Call

A few people have emailed me today asking why Saskin made the phone calls to the player reps and not Goodenow.
I am not sure where this information is coming from, but Bob did make the call himself to the player reps, not Saskin.
Also, Goodenow's mother has been ill and that may be a reason why he was not involved in some of the negotiations.

nhl- Watch the other Bob

Bob McKenzie lays out the CBA details (will open WMP video).

nhl- TV Deal

Anyone else wondering if the NHL will announce a US TV deal soon? They have had to be working behind the scenes on a deal.
Anyone hear anything, the last I heard was TNT had an interest, other than that, nada!

Keep em Coming

Thanks to many of the readers for sending in all the information from different sources. It is much appreciated and keep them coming.
Over 7100 visitors to Breaking Sports today, well on the way to a record day.

nhl- Draft Details

from TSN and a tip from a reader, Once the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, the 'wildest' offseason in league history will take place. All 30 teams will be scrambling to sign players and fill out the rosters for when the puck drops in October.
That sense of urgency will also carry over into the NHL Entry Draft- scheduled for July 30 in Ottawa. For the last few years, the league's lottery system included 14 non-playoff teams, with only one team that could move up and improve its position. That will all change this summer, as all 30 teams - with no 2004-2005 standings to back them up - will be thrown into the hat for a chance at grabbing the first overall selection.
The lottery formula is as follows - each team begins with three balls. For every playoff appearance in the last three years or No. 1 overall pick over the last four years, a team loses one ball. But each team will still be guaranteed to have one ball in the lottery. The first round will go with teams picking 1 through 30, with the 30th team picking 31st and the draft order 'snaking' back and forth in a seven round draft....more...