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.