Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
To go along with their frustration over the lack of progress on the NHL labor front, some players are now becoming angry as the lockout continued into its second week.
“Why wouldn’t anybody be angry?” Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toewssaid Monday after an informal workout at Johnny’s IceHouse West in Chicago. “If you know anything about what’s happened in the last little while and the history of our game the last 20 years or so, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out. It’s pretty frustrating how things have gone. I’m definitely not happy about it.”
The fourth work stoppage (third lockout) in the league in the last two decades began Sept. 15 when the collective bargaining agreement expired and the NHL and NHL Players’ Association haven’t formally negotiated since Sept. 12 and have no talks planned. There are growing fears that the entire 2012-13 season will be lost in the labor dispute, like what happened when the ’04-05 season was canceled.
“We saw what the (owners) did in ’04-05 and who knows if they’re willing to do that again,” Toews said. “To me, it’s just carelessness. It’s them just trying to show everyone that they’re the owners and they’re the league. They can do whatever they want. If they want to hurt their own game and drive it into the ground that’s what they’ll do. Even if it comes down to that, it doesn’t matter as long as they get what they want.
“It’s frustrating it’s gone this far,” Toews said. “We’re a week into it already and a lot of people are starting to get antsy. Especially fans all over Chicago and all over the place. It’s not really fair to them, either.”
The players believe their last proposal to the league solves many of the issues between the sides, including a cut in the hockey-related revenue they’d receive and also a revenue-sharing plan that would allow the teams doing well financially to aid the struggling ones.
Well, it’s Day 9 of the NHL lockout, and there remains a distinct lack of urgency from the league and the NHLPA.
Even with 61 preseason games (and probably 1 per cent of hockey-related revenues) already wiped out, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have had hardly any negotiating sessions, prolonging a stalemate that appears its headed for at least December.
So if they’re not going to sit down and hammer this thing out, we’ll have to step in and act as an impartial mediator by putting together a compromise for both sides.
(In case you haven’t seen it, the two proposals currently on the table are spelled out in detail here.)
Those offers put the two sides at least $1-billion apart depending on how league revenues grow over the coming years, but there is a deal to be had somewhere in the middle of all this.
And the answer to how to settle this thing is with a new agreement neither side is going to like all that much.
Step 1: Let the players keep the $1.87-billion they earned last season – and not a penny more.
The union’s offer comes with a 2 per cent raise in Year 1, but it’s become clear in negotiations that that’s just not going to fly.
And the league wants players to take a big pay cut via escrow next season that won’t work either.
The players have dug in on this one, and it’s really not too much to ask in Year 1 of the deal. If NHL revenues grow at 6.3 per cent (which is roughly what they’ve averaged the last eight years minus the effects of the Canadian dollar), that $1.87-billion will drop the players’ share to 53.6 per cent.
And it’ll slowly trail down from there.
Seattle may be on the verge of getting a new NHL-caliber arena, and there may be investors willing to bring an NHL franchise to the Pacific Northwest city, but one pesky problem remains.
“I can tell you there are not teams for sale that are available to move,” Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin told ESPN the Magazine on Wednesday.
Levin would love to own an NHL team in Seattle, which he’s called “probably the best market in the United States that does not have a hockey team demographically.”
But how could he get one?
ESPN asked Levin about two potential relocation targets – the Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders.
On the Coyotes, Levin figures Greg Jamison will eventually purchase the team and keep it in Glendale.
The NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings is on the chopping block, a potential early victim of the lockout.
A league source told the Star that, barring a settlement, commissioner Gary Bettman plans to cancel it in November — to take away any advantage the players may have at the bargaining table because of the game’s popularity.
“Gary told (the board of governors) he was going to cancel the Winter Classic in November because he didn’t want the players to use the game as leverage,” the source said.
A source close to the players said the NHLPA had heard the same thing.
“It’s a scare tactic,” the union source said. “It just proves the NHL has no intention of negotiating any time soon.”
If the NHL season were to begin in mid- to late November, it would leave plenty of time to stage and hype the Classic — including HBO’s successful 24/7 series, a behind-the-scenes look at the teams involved. The event at the University of Michigan’s football stadium — known as The Big House — would draw a crowd of around 100,000 and has traditionally been a ratings hit in Canada and the U.S.
The Edmonton Oilers are in desperate need of a goalie, and Devan Dubnyk is unlikely to be the solution. With no elite goalie prospect in their system, an attempt at Bernier might not be a bad idea.
Corey Crawford is not getting the job done as a starter in this league. The Blackhawks don’t have anybody in their system ready to come out anytime soon, and they would likely be able to put together a package viable to the Kings’ needs. I’m sure they’ll be interested in Bernier if he ever gets officially put on the block.
Two goalies, two problems. Neither Sergei Bobrovsky or Steve Mason are starters in this league. And if they are, they’re the worst combination in the NHL. Instead of trading for a career backup in Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets should have put together a package to get someone with real potential in Bernier. Even though they might not look for Bernier anymore, they could certainly “use” him.
The Maple Leafs have been in need of a goalie for a while now, and James Reimer is not the answer. If the Leafs want to build a successful team and make the playoffs consistently, they’re going to need a quality goaltender that can lead their franchise in the years to come. Bernier is a better answer than Reimer.
Martin Brodeur hasn’t been Martin Broduer in years and he’ll never be what he once was again. The Devils went and re-signed him in the offseason, probably because they would have felt bad otherwise. The more likely reason, however, is because they have no one to replace him with.
Gillis was also asked recently about his relationship with Burke, and said they get along “well enough” to pull the trigger on this thing.
It just re-affirmed what many have thought for months — the Leafs make the most sense. But what would that mean for Luongo? If he is struggling in October will assistant GM Dave Nonis be knocking on his door to go over paddle-down techniques?
If there is encouraging news for Luongo, it’s that before the CBA expired at least one mystery team, and maybe two, entered the Luongo sweepstakes. Team Mysterious wasn’t one of the ones that had previously been attached to a Luongo trade in rumours, so scratch Columbus off your list along with the obvious ones.
The Edmonton Oilers were floated as the potential suitor in question, and on some levels it makes a lot of sense. Nikolai Khabibulin will be 40 in January, and just may retire if this season is wiped out. Devan Dubnyk has improved slowly over the years, and shown some promise. But he’s hardly a sure thing as a No. 1 goalie in the NHL and there is no prospect behind him anywhere near ready to push for playing time.
For most, there’s no doubt Luongo would help the emerging Oilers. Maybe even make them a playoff team. And there’s the rub. What makes sense for Edmonton, probably doesn’t for the Canucks, depending, of course, on the offer.
But it’s not an easy decision for the Canucks, if you believe Luongo would accelerate the re-build program in Edmonton, making the division that much tougher, that much sooner.
Plus, Justin Schultz may have chosen Edmonton. That’s one thing. Would Luongo ever do the same?
The Toronto Maple Leafs remain interested in acquiring the services of Roberto Luongo.
According to TVA Sports hockey analyst Enrico Ciccone, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke contacted his Vancouver Canucks counterpart, Mike Gillis, about the 33-year-old goaltender last weekend.
This is not the first time Luongo has been linked to trade talks with Toronto. In April, the Leafs were among a group of teams that showed interest in the veteran netminder.
Luongo has played 727 games in the NHL and has spent the past six seasons in Vancouver.
Last season, the emergence of Canucks backup Cory Schneider has put Luongo’s status as the club’s No. 1 goalie in doubt.
The Canucks signed Schneider to a three-year, $12-million contract this off-season, leading to speculation that Luongo, who has 10 years left on a 12-year, $64-million contract, would be traded over the summer
There are a few different things that the NHL owners have always preyed on while handing out work stoppages like Halloween candy over the last 20 years under the leadership of Commissioner Gary Bettman.
They’ve always been able to break the backs of the players’ association at a critical juncture of the negotiations, and then take advantage of an NHLPA that couldn’t scramble to remain unified. They’ve always been able to count on the hockey diehards forgiving, forgetting and returning as ticket-buying consumers no matter how much the NHL plays the role of the abusive spouse.
In the end the NHL has also always taken full advantage of the individual hockey players, and their deep-rooted concern for the health and well-being of the league that they love so profoundly. That aforementioned concern with damaging the game was front-and-center while chatting with the players after their second lockout practice at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center on Tuesday afternoon.
“We hoped it wouldn’t be as confrontational as the last time around, but obviously that wasn’t the same sentiment on the other side,” said B’s Andrew Ference, a former NHLPA players rep that takes a keen interest in CBA negotiations. “We’re getting into this rut where we’re almost a joke. Every few years we’ve got to revisit the same thing. One year it’s explained one way, and one year it’s explained another way.
The ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association are starting to stir up familiar feelings for Mathieu Schneider.
Schneider – who was active through both the 1994-95 and 2004-05 NHL lockouts as a player – says the players are frustrated by the prospect of the current work stoppage resulting in game cancellations. This time around, he is representing the players as Special Assistant to NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.
“The fact that we’re sitting here in this position once again, of course, it’s frustrating for the players,” Schneider told TSN on Monday.
The Players’ Association has yet to table a counter-proposal to the league’s latest CBA offer, which the NHL filed on Sept. 12. The league voted unanimously to lock out the players the next day while both sides continued discussions.
“In each proposal that we’ve brought forward, we have moved,” Schneider said. “We’re the only ones that have been giving in this entire negotiation. Everything that they have put forward takes more from the players; on the contracting issues, on the straight share of the revenue and that’s the frustrating part for the players. Our next offer will be giving more back to the owners, they’re next offer will be taking more from the players.”
This morning began, minute one, with the NHL again officially in lockout. Death. Taxes. NHL gone dark. Until further notice, there will not be an NHL training camp near you this September. Again.
If you’re keeping score at home, this is lockout No. 3, which makes the NHL the worldwide leader in pro sports RLSS (repetitive labor stress syndrome). Most acute symptom: a stabbing, chronic pain in the neck.
Good news is, regular-season games are not scheduled to begin until the second week of October, which allows time for owners and players to look in the mirror and figure out just how ridiculous they look to the general public (read: ticket buyers and cable/DirecTV subscribers).
The two sides combined to amass $3.3 billion in revenue during the 2011-12 season, and great minds and leaders on both sides once more cannot figure out how to divvy up such a humongous wad of cash to their mutual satisfaction and, of course, benefit and delight.
I’d like to believe that eventually fan interest will take such a sizable dip amid one of these dunderheaded job actions that the industry, owners and players alike, will learn once and for all not to be the Richard Burton- Elizabeth Taylor of sports marriages. But the fans always come back, no matter what, ever willing to pay for ever-pricier tickets, pennants, and hot dogs.
There may be NHL hockey this fall after all…at least in Quebec.
Sources confirm several high profile French Canadian NHL players and agents are considering forming two teams to play games while NHL players and owners battle it out at the bargaining table.
Some of these players includes stars Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, David Perron, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The initial idea is to have two teams, one representing Montreal and the other representing Quebec City, to travel throughout Quebec playing at least one game per week. There’s talk of all the proceeds going to charity.
The idea of adding other Canadian markets such as Ottawa and Toronto has also been tossed around.
Over the next two or three weeks you will hear of more NHL players signing contracts to play over in Europe. Jussi Jokinen (Car) and D-man Jason Demers (San) recently inked contracts to play in the Finnish Elite League.
Others such as Valtteri Filppula and Teemu Selanne could join Jokerit in the Finnish league sometime in the near future.
The addition of defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Chicago Blackhawks blue-line on Tuesday only comes as a surprise in relation to timing. With all eyes focused on the final week before a lockout occurs the Hawks are still “minding the store” by picking up their second player this offseason, and it just also happens to be their second defenseman.
He better provide something more, because at a reported $2 million for the his one-year deal, he’s not just a minor, depth type of pick-up. League sources say the New York Rangers were interested, but the Hawks outbid them by a wide margin.
Rozsival will play, which makes the deal worth analyzing that much more. Though he’s not the most self-motivated individual and it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy, he’s got some talent left if he applies himself. Either way, he more than likely starts as a No. 5 defenseman who will see penalty-killing time as a good shot blocker and perhaps a few minutes on the power play if there are injuries.
He has a decent shot, and that’s not exactly a strength of Hawks defensemen.
But this move adds to a crowded blue-line which means a veteran or even a younger player will probably be on the move, either to the minors or out of town completely. Rozsival joins holdovers Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Montador and Dylan Olsen on a team that also signed Brookbank in July. That’s nine players for six spots while, at most, two would be watching from the stands. So who goes?
The easy answer would be Olsen. He’s on a two-way contract and with the Hawks in an urgent situation to win, bringing along a young defenseman might not be a luxury they want to deal with. It’s known that Joel Quenneville likes Olsen but that might not matter. More on that in a moment.
Last week, Shane Doan made a solemn vow that he would sign somewhere by midnight on September 15th, although his recent history of extended deadlines made us wonder if this was an empty threat.
Turns out it was. According to a recent report by John Gambadoro, a radio host on Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix, Doan has once again spurned his own deadline. But here’s the twist: the winger has actually moved it ahead for once. Gambadoro says that Doan will sign somewhere by 2pm on September 14th, because all contracts have to be signed by then.
What’s more, “somewhere” is one of only two places: Phoenix… or Vancouver. (Hey! that’s where we live!)
We’ve been real Debbie Downers about the Canucks’ chances thus far, but if Gambadoro’s report is to be believed, you sort of have to like them now. After all, Doan has said that he needs Greg Jamison’s deal with the city of Glendale to go through before he signs that four-year deal with the Coyotes, but what are the odds of that deal getting completed tomorrow? Heck, the last time someone successfully completed a deal to purchase the Coyotes was in 2005.
But don’t get too excited. (Like, you can get kind of excited. But don’t get excited to excess.) If Doan does join the Canucks, it could mean that the Canucks’ other ongoing saga likely won’t wrap up as neatly.
The addition of Doan is likely to hurt Mike Gillis’s attempts to get market value for Roberto Luongo.
The Detroit Red Wings could be close to signing defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year, $5 million contract.
General manager Ken Holland told M-Live.com Wednesday that they’re still talking, but that he is not signed.
M-Live reported on Aug. 24 that the Red Wings had made a two-year, $5 million offer to the 29-year-old who played the past four seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
Colaiacovo isn’t the top-pair defenseman the Red Wings were seeking after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (signed with San Jose), but he is one of the few viable options remaining in what was a weak free-agent market.
Colaiacovo (6-foot-1, 200) is a good skater and puck-mover with some offensive ability. He averaged 27 points a season with the Blues. He shoots left and can play the point on the power play.
His biggest issue has been his health. He hasn’t played more than 67 games in any season.
The Red Wings have been pursuing Colaiacovo since the start of free agency. They initially offered a one-year deal, but he was seeking three years. The sides apparently will compromise at two years.
The Philadelphia Flyers have reportedly asked the Montreal Canadiens about the availability of restricted free agent defenceman P.K. Subban.
The Flyers are interested in adding Subban, who has been unable to come to terms on a new contract with the Canadiens. Philly will probably start the season with three blueliners — Chris Pronger, Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja — out with injuries.
Sportsnet reported earlier this week that he was close to signing a three-year, $12 million deal but so far that hasn’t happened. Last month, TSN said Subban had rejected a two-year, $5.5 million offer.
With his large Vancouver Canucks hockey bag slung over one shoulder, goalie Roberto Luongo walked out of the Panthers facility Monday morning.
“See you next week,” Luongo told a member of the Coral Springs Iceplex’s staff before heading out the door.
Luongo flew to Vancouver on Tuesday to participate in the Canucks’ charity golf tournament and continue his informal offseason workouts with his teammates.
If the NHL owners lockout their players as expected come Saturday night, Luongo plans to continue his workouts in South Florida.
So, once Luongo leaves Vancouver, will he return?
“I have no idea what is going to happen,” he said.
Luongo, who played with Florida from 2000-05, wants to return to the Panthers.
It appears there is mutual interest, too. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon spoke to the Canucks about a potential trade in June, but talks have cooled.
The Canucks are said to want a number of Florida’s top young players in return for Luongo. However, the Panthers aren’t interested in parting with any of their future building blocks. Nothing will happen on the trade front until labor issues are settled.
For Luongo, it appears his time in Vancouver is over.
If the entirety of the NHLPA is looking for work in a few days, the KHL can afford to be picky—and that’s just what the Russian league will do.
Only “top-rated talent” is welcome, according to Sport-Express’ Slava Malamud, and that’s according to the league’s stated guidelines.
That means that if clubs are looking to sign non-Russian NHL players, they must have played in either 150 NHL games, on national teams, in the KHL previously or won a Stanley Cup or individual trophy.
The rules will go into effect the day the NHL announces the lockout and be enforced until the situation is resolved. Owners maintain that they’ll lock out the NHLPA on Sept. 15.
“Our clubs are getting an opportunity to enter into contracts and to put on their rosters no more than three NHL players, and these players can be included above the established limit of 25 players,” vice president Vladimir Shalaev said, according to a translation by Yahoo! Sports.
On Monday, the Boston Bruins held their 9th annual golf tournament in Bolton, Mass. — the perfect place for reporters to ask players about the looming lockout.
One of the players queried was Tyler Seguin, who led the Bruins in scoring last season and will become a restricted free agent at the end of 2012-13.
Unsurprisingly, Seguin wants a new deal before the CBA expires on Sept. 15.
Seguin didn’t seem worried about the contract at all. Don’t be surprised if that happens soon
Seguin, 20, is set to make $3.55 million in the final year of his entry-level contract and, in terms of an extension, is likely eying the seven-year, $42 million extension fellow 2010 draftee Taylor Hall recently signed in Edmonton.
Looking beyond Seguin, the Bruins could face a similar circumstance with Milan Lucic, another young forward that’s set to become a RFA after next season.
Lucic is in the final year of a deal that pays $4.08 million annually, and his situation is compounded by the fact Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli just gave Brad Marchand a four-year, $18 million extension (like Lucic and Seguin, Marchand was set to become a RFA in 2013).
Per #MTL Canadiens player,they expect ruling by Quebec Labor Board this week on teams ability to lockout.If court rules in their favor,and
— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) September 10, 2012
If the NHL go ahead with a lock-out Saturday, a group of Montreal Canadiens players will ask the Quebec Labour Board to stop it
If the NHL go ahead with a lock-out Saturday, a group of Montreal Canadiens players will ask the Quebec Labour Board to stop it.
— Renaud Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) September 9, 2012