You Spin Me Right Round, Baby…

right round, like a record, baby…

According to the always quote-worthy Jeremy Roenick, the whale might be on the loose once again.That’s right, the World Hockey Association (A.K.A. the WHA, A.K.A. “the whale”) is back – maybe even for real this time.

According to an interview with JR and the WHA website (www.worldhockeyassociation.net), the WHA will be hosting a tourney from May 20th to June 2nd featuring NHL players.

The games would be played in Hamilton and Vancouver, with six teams overall. The winner will be taking home a 2 million dollar prize. All players would reportedly earn 20,000 for participating. Roenick is leading the charge to get NHL players into the tourney.

Already listed as participating on the WHA site are; Andrew Raycroft, Scott Gomez, Mark Recchi, Tony Amonte, Derian Hatcher, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Jose Theodore, Nicklas Lidstrom, Shane Doan, Keith Primeau and JR among many others.

Ricky Smith, president/owner of the upstart, dismantled, upstart, dismantled and upstart again league says, ”We’re grateful for NHLers coming to the tournament and we want to show them what wide-open hockey would look like in the WHA.”

The tournament, called “The Bobby Hull Invitational” after the legendary player who defected to the WHA so many years ago for the ground-breaking fee of one million dollars (try saying it in a Dr. Evil voice for the full effect). Bobby Hull is also the commissioner of the league in its current incarnation. The idea of the tourney is that it’s meant to be a springboard to jumpstart the new league. The new WHA will feature as many as 16 teams, although Smith notes it will likely be closer to 10.

Of course, we’ve heard this before, as recently as last year. Had the WHA started this season instead of next (if at all), they no doubt would have captured many fans with no NHL this season. Some say they already missed their golden opportunity.

Whatever the case, this tourney does seem pretty close to a sure thing, and would give the league some much-needed publicity, and even more importantly – a chance to show players and fans that they are serious and organized.

Among the rule “changes” (from the NHL rules that is) listed on the site for the tourney (and possibly for the league itself) are; no red line, no icing during penalties (I assume this goes for BOTH teams), players sit out full penalties regardless of goals scored, unlimited curve to sticks and finally, enforcing penalties vs. clutching and grabbing. All of these rules are clearly designed to up the excitement level and scoring. The WHA also has a “rule survey” on their site that allows you to vote and contribute. http://www.worldhockeyassociation.net/fanzone/index.php?SurveyID=RULES if you’re interested.

The impact of this tournament is huge and far-reaching.

1. As mentioned, it is a chance for the WHA to show the players and fans that they are for real this time. They have new owners with new money and new ideas. If this tourney goes off well, many players may switch to the league if it starts up this year or early 2006. This, of course, may happen to a greater degree if there is still no NHL or an NHL with replacements.

2. Will the threat of the WHA alone be enough to get the NHL to cave into some sort of deal with the NHLPA. Right now, NHL players only have Europe and minor leagues as serious job options. A new league in North America offering decent pay and fun hockey might be enough for the two sides to reach a deal.

3. Will the open style of play and increased scoring that will surely exist in the WHA lead to fans changing leagues they watch? Fans are sick of clutching and grabbing, and even more sick of NHLPA millionaires whining. The superstars aren’t as admired as they used to be. Will the 7-5 finals in the WHA be more appealing than the 2-1 finals in the NHL?

4. Will the fan reaction to the WHA be enough to finally convince the NHL to do something about increasing scoring?

5. What about Crosby and other youngsters? If they enter the WHA and then leave – do they become free agents to the NHL?

I don’t even want to begin to answer these things, but at least the NHL-NHLPA negotiation just got a little bit more interesting. On top of that, we will at least have a few games (hopefully televised?) of exciting hockey with NHL players to watch – even if it’s just a small tourney in the WHA.

One thing seems clear, the WHAle is back baby. I look forward to the day where I can wear my Hartford Whalers hat in public again and not only be noticed by fellow hockey dorks.

I’m willing to give the WHA a chance. Let’s see what they bring to the table.


35 Responses to You Spin Me Right Round, Baby…

  1. nordiques100 says:

    like Great Gretzky said, if the players are going to play in the WHA that will have a 10 million dollar cap…..and have already accepted somewhat of a cap in the NHL but refuse to deal with the league…boggles my mind.

  2. markjohnston says:

    it used to boggle my mind as well.

    the mistake you’re making is thinking the players follow common sense or have any business-smarts whatsoever.

  3. Flyers_01 says:

    Hahahahahhahaha ..

    “We’re trying to put some money into guys’ pockets,” Roenick told the Inquirer

    This isn’t about about rule changes and showing everyone that the WHA is for real. This is about the players realizing that they don’t like living on 10k a month and maybe being strapped a bit making the monthly payment on that mansion. Apparantly 10k a month isn’t enough to feed the dogs and the kids of the NHL players.

    I would be surprised if the WHA played a single game. They are, suprisingly enough having trouble finding rinks to play in for one thing, seems that most of the rinks in the major city’s are owned by a rival hockey league.

    I can almost guarantee you that the NHL isn’t taking the WHA seriously. Players chosing to live under a $10 million dollar cap over living under a $30-$40 million dollar cap would be almost as stupid as what the players are doing now. If the WHA was willing to pay NHL level salaries then I think there’d be reason to worry but I don’t see that happening.

    Frankly, any player who plays in a capped league while the CBA is being fought over is a hypocrite. Not only does it show how stupid the players are to fight over a cap in the first place when they’ll play under one anywhere but the NHL but they will play under a cap for peanuts compared to the NHL salaries. So basically over half the NHLPA don’t understand what a laughingstock they are.

    I don’t care if they don’t trust the owners either, that’s what the CBA is for. They can get a joint audit of league books .. oops .. the NHLPA already turned it down.

    Well if the the NHL uses replacement players., the WHA may be all the NHL players have left, gotta feed those dogs you know.

  4. hockeyhead says:

    remember the wha and the usfl? what do they have in common.?

    my question is, will this be televised? i have rarely seen AHL and NCAA games.

    i think most of us are fans of our teams. if there are no more bruins or leafs or wings i don’t think fans will embrace the wha no matter who is in the league.

    i would rather see ahl players playing in boston than be a hartford whaler fan.

  5. nordiques100 says:

    hey that was gretz talking, not me. i know the players are crazy. look at pronger and guerin, two players who are making 10 million a year and still are fighting over pennies. and when both say the PA is stronger than ever, it is a joke. i dont think it is possible for 700 people to agree 100% for the same thing unless they were a bunch of storm troopers under the collective control of darth vader…..wait, they are run by darth vadenow

  6. 19Yzerman says:

    It is my opinion that both sides have become equally and disturbingly divorced from economic reality.

    It seems that the only news that we hear is a scare tactic of some sort devised to cause the other to rethink where things are for their side.

    I have to admit that the idea of the wide open style the WHA claims to be in order for display sounds enticing. Despite having been of the NHLPA stance though this whole lockout. I am not in favor of a new hockey league evolving into something to surpass the NHL as the players choice league. If the players are truly considering using this as defection process from the NHL it will be very sad to see and I would start to lean heavily towards the NHL as it is the NHL that carries the tradition and history which I prefer. It just will not sound right hearing a game commentator saying stuff like well that is a new WHA record everytime something happens as if the list of hockey greats of the NHL era never existed.

    Oh yea you forgot to extend your pinky to the side of your mouth with thumb extended to your chin as Dr Evil laughs muwaaa aaa aaa.

    No question I will watch the higher skill level where ever it may be but, just as each side has been trying to have it cake and eat it too. That is what we the fans want. Like a child whose parents have become separated we just wish they would come to terms and reunite.

    I am looking forward to an NHL season with NHLPA players and on the first game of the season they can play Stevie Wonder singing —

    Like a fool I went and stayed too long

    Now I’m wondering if your love’s still strong

    Oo, baby, here I am, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!

    Then that time I went and said goodbye

    Now I’m back and not ashamed to cry

    Oo, baby, here I am, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.

  7. nordiques100 says:

    ironic how you mention stevie wonder as both sides are quite blind to reality.

    WHA is a joke. is it no longer a kids dream to win the stanley cup anymore? that is was is so confusing because all players talk about is living their dream…but apparently that is to earn millions of dollars doing nothing (i.e bill geurin).

    i will not watch that bogus league because hockey for me is watching the leafs trying to end their stanley cup drought, or watching the leafs vs habs on a saturday night, or seeing the battle of ontario, or seeing the battle of New York, or going to the bell centre and seeing all those retired numbers and stanley cup banners of the habs or simply walking into hockeytown for a game at the joe. if the players want to show that they are the best, then they can only do that in the NHL.

    we all know on ice changes are coming for the NHL, so the WHA can boast of a faster game and so forth but really the best league in the world is the NHL and the game will get better there.

    if those idiots like JR are going to play in that other league, let them. it is just strange to see JR leading the charge there when the whole purpose of him risking his quality of life playing with a concussion was to win a stanley cup, not play in a WHA summer tournament.

  8. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Other than his wife – jR works for Mr. Snyder and Mr. Snyder isn’t going to like this idea much. JR did commnedable work in trying to get a CBA done however supporting the WHA when Snyder is one of founders of any modern success the NHL knows can NOT go over well.

    I would say JR should have thought about that before he opened his mouth but saying that would show a serious lack of understanding about JR.

    The guy above makes a good point about TV. With no TV deal – this thing is about the gate and what makes the WHA or NHLPA (who is really behind this) think that they can get the fans they burned 2x in one week back to watch their stars on ice as all of our favorite teams sit idle waiting for a cup that will never be awarded?

  9. markjohnston says:

    for all the people wondering about TV, I’ve contacted the WHA about it.

    I pretended to be a serious hockey writer.

    I’m hoping they’ll fall for it and let me in on some details.

    I live 15 minutes from copps (the arena in hamilton this event will most likely be in), but I don’t know if I’d bother driving to this.

    I would, however, watch it on tv in a heartbeat.

  10. hockeyhead says:

    it is all garbage…go to hockeydb.com and look up any player during the 70’s…you will find that those who jumped leagues did not stay very long before coming back to the NHL.

    much like the usfl where superstar players like jim kelly, anthony carter, hershal walker and bobby hebert all made there way back or to the greatest league….the nfl.

    the same holds true here….none of these guys will stay in a second rate league if the nhl is back.

  11. nordiques100 says:

    i wouldnt. i wouldnt want to see a game between hamilton vs birmingham alabama for the avco cup. i dont care if theodore, heatley or roenick are playing. honestly do you think that they will be diving to block pucks, taking a stiff hit to clear the zone or physically pounding eachother to win something that is this lame?

    in the NHL we have seen jason smith get stitched up in the hallway so he wouldnt miss a shift in the playoffs with the oilers but likely for this WHA the players will not be playing if in any pain whatsoever. this is the sham the players are leading us to believe that this will be a legit league that will be so much grander than the NHL.

    it is just going to be shinny hockey. believe me, we will see a group of all star teams put together and even as opponents you will see players laughing and chatting with eachother during play and not really taking this very seriously. a portland vs hartford game will not have the war like atmostphere and seriousness of a rangers vs. islanders tilt. and we know how bad the all star games now are already in the NHL. why would anyone want to pay and support an entire season of that?

  12. 19Yzerman says:

    Your close NORD’s Goodenow is actually Yoda and he has put the Jedi mind trick on the players by waving his hand at them all and saying “We WILL get a no cap CBA”.

  13. wingedim says:

    “This is not the deal you are looking for….”

  14. 19Yzerman says:

    Do they sell some ocean front condos in Nebraska.

  15. wingedim says:

    Well they are going to be getting 20k per game vs. 10k per month from what I’ve read.

    But I will agree with you on they whole hypocritical aspect of these guys playing in leagues with caps. It just goes to show you that even though the executive and player reps say ‘we are united’ just how ‘united’ the PA actually is and who wants to play for the love of the game instead of the love of the almighty dollar.

  16. beefer says:

    A Jedi Vader once was.

  17. beefer says:

    Still chuckling at that one. How big a geek am I?

  18. 19Yzerman says:

    Listen to your father Luke and may the farce be with you!!!!!!! Patience Luke wait and it will come to you. Use the FARCE!!!!!

  19. nordiques100 says:

    and oh yeah, to hear the grand support for this spring tournament but zero support to represent your country in a legit tournament like the worlds that could offer a tremendous platform to win hockey fans back is pretty disgraceful.

    as many players are claiming now the are too out of shape to be effective for the worlds, they how great will these players be in this wha shinny tourney?

  20. wingedim says:

    I’ve heard they do, but you need to be on the 600th floor to see it.

  21. wingedim says:

    Isn’t it amazing what money can buy??

  22. nordiques100 says:

    sure they do. in front of the ocean of corn crops in cornhusker country

  23. 19Yzerman says:

    Say you don’t need no diamond ring and I’ll be satisfied

    Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can’t buy

    I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

    I can’t help it but it seems like every other post has some meaing to it which applies to a well known song.

  24. nordiques100 says:

    it was a toss up between vader and the emperor.

    i wouldnt mind boba fett to show up and wipe out bettman and goodenow.

    the greedy owners? no doubt they are jabba the hut

  25. nordiques100 says:

    a long time ago, in a galaxy far away…..

    we had good hockey….

    queue the music!!

  26. 19Yzerman says:

    both Tony Montana (scareface) and Nino Brown (New Jack City) said,” The world is Mine” and look what happend to them.

  27. Aetherial says:

    I seriously wonder if JR cares what Snyder thinks. He knows he would/will be gone from the Flyers as soon as the opoprtunity presents itself.

  28. Aetherial says:

    I would watch the WHA if it was actually a league.

    A shinny tournament has no appeal to me. I couldn’t care less about the world championships either.

    If the St. John’s Maple Leafs played closer to Toronto, I would watch them.

  29. kicksave856 says:

    boba fett has a mean backhander.

  30. ericthered1961 says:

    Six teams…..ALL STAR TEAMS

    With the leagues best :

    Goalies

    Defencemen

    Wingers

    Centers

    Locate them near each one of these areas and call them:

    Toronto leafss

    Montreol canadienss

    Detroit Red Wingss

    New York Rangerss

    Ottawa- instead of Boston- Senatorss

    Philiadelphia- instead of Chicago- flyerss

  31. Bishop7979 says:

    Yeah I love how Recchi was asked about the WHA in one of the Pittsburgh papers today, according to him he has no idea how his name got on the website listing him as a player. He said he had a very brief conversation with JR about how JR wanted him to play, and only in the tourny and not in the actual league.

    Recchi also went on to say he hasnt really considered actually participating in the tourny, especially if they are playing for money. He said it would be different if it was a charity event, but if its for 20 grand a piece he is leary about entering.

    In the end of the article Recchi stated flat out that he would not play in the WHA if a league was started for real, that, if it came down to it, he would play in Europe first.

    So I wonder how many of the 58 other players listed on the site, I say 58 because Brad Norton was on the list twice, are actually committed, or even spoke to someone other than JR

  32. 19Yzerman says:

    Ohgie?? Ohgie Oglethorp??

  33. 19Yzerman says:

    I would watch Mini mights or squirts if they would televise them.

  34. rojoke says:

    In the latest Hockey News, Mr. Smith has said that the new WHA isn’t necessarily going to have a salary cap.

    He also says that the first season of the new WHA will feature 10 teams, featuring such hockey hot beds as Las Vegas and Omaha, Nebraska (?). In year two, they hope to go to Europe and Japan(??). What’s up for year three, Africa?

    Here’s what I hope happens. I hope the WHA starts play in October. I hope they have no salary cap, and a bunch of NHLers flock there and get what they were getting last season. And I hope the league plays like that for three or four years. If an upstart league can pay present-day NHL salaries to present-day NHL players in their primes, for three or four years and not bleed red ink after it, then I’ll say that the players were right in not believing the owners’ numbers. But until that time, I haven’t changed my mind about anything. The owners have the right to try and fix the mess they created.

  35. rojoke says:

    October 2005. Don’t think it will help much. They didn’t fare very well in St. Catherine’s or Newmarket.

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