NHL and NHLPA to Have Their First Real Talks Since Lockout Started Tomorrow

This has been out there for a couple of days but apparently Bettman and Daly will be meeting with the Fehr brothers tomorrow [THN]. In a radical and probably much needed departure the two sides do not plan to talk about “core economic issues,” or in other words the things that actually determine how the league is operated, but instead they’ll talk about secondary issues. The fact that I’m eternally optimistic has resulted in my focusing on these lines in particular:

While a significant economic gulf remains this time around, at least one veteran negotiator believes it’s a good sign the NHL and NHLPA are willing to discuss issues such as pensions, grievance procedures and travel in the meantime.

“It means that once they settle the economic issues they want to start playing right away,” said the negotiator, who requested anonymity.

Apparently a lot of luminaries in the hockey reporting industry have been compiling statistics as to which players are going to get money and which aren’t: the conclusion they’ve come up with is that only (or perhaps as many as, depending on your tilt) 15 of the top 50 players will be getting significant paychecks whether the NHL plays a game or not this year. Check it out here [PHT]. I’m sure the original Bob McKenzie analysis blames Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, and Malkin for being Russian as to why they’re the three highest paid players to not get any money from their NHL teams in the lockout.

Also, it isn’t new news but apparently Ovechkin has used some really strong language to suggest that if the NHL cuts back the salary cap too much he might just stay in the KHL [PHT]. I mean as a Pens fan and blogger, I don’t like Ovechkin, but that would be a huge blow to the league. Yes it’s really easy to make fun of the fact that he produced a whopping 65 points last year, but when he’s 50% of the league’s face, you can’t just lose him over petty bourgeois pandering between the Players and the Owners. Further, there’s no reason for the NHL not to believe that some Russian Oil Tycoon wouldn’t pay $15 million a year for Russia’s most famous player assuming he knew that Ovechkin was willing to field permanent KHL offers.

The Edmonton Oilers have opened up a bag of dump when it was revealed that team officials were in Seattle talking about the possibility of relocation [THN]. The Oilers are one of the very few NHL teams that do not have an operating interest in their arena which means they don’t make any money outside of the games themselves. Beyond that, they play in a dumpy, old arena. Apparently the team has been trying to negotiate a new arena deal with the city of Edmonton for more than 4 years already and only have two season left before they are free to do whatever they want to.

The Pacific Northwest, the native home of the Hipster-genus. I wonder why they don’t watch sports up there?

To make matters even better, the day that Oilers brass were in Seattle is the same day that the Seattle City Council approved a new $490 million NBA/NHL arena for the city [TSN]. Funny how that works no? Even better than those though was Edmonton’s mayor getting all bent about it and saying that an NHL team would never be successful in Seattle [TSN]. My two cents on the matter are that Seattle is one of the very few American cities that is deserving of an NHL team, and if they can get a hockey team, and all of the millionaire software developers who live there who are transplants from all over the country learn about it, the team can succeed. But that is a big if, the NBA Sonics moved 4 years ago because despite the general affluence of the people in that area, nobody cared.

Two last links that create some excitement for actual hockey talk:

Dejan Kovacevic had a heart to heart with Sid yesterday [Trib]. Whether you like DK or you find his constant Twitter fighting with every person who dares to call him out on his botched Pirates prediction incredibly annoying, it doesn’t really matter. This is an interview with Sidney Crosby and it just tugs on your heart-strings so bad because it just shows how ready Sid is to destroy the entire NHL this year, if he can get the opportunity.

The Big Dawg

Also, Tangradi, Strait, Bortuzzo, new goalie Jeff Zatkoff, and old goalie Brad Thiessen are off for training camp with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins [Trib]. They all have 2-way deals and will likely rejoin the Big Penguins if they ever get training camp started this year. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, however, the effect that it will have on some of the younger guys kind of sucks, especially on defense: with Strait and Bortuzzo rejoining Wilkes-Barre and Simon Despres already sent down back during the playoffs last year, all three of those guys are going to take spots that could have gone to Brian Dumolin, Phillip Samuelsson and possibly even Joe Morrow, who will instead have to start at the ECHL.

Bad News: the rest of the preseason has been cancelled. That’s sad, but nonetheless the two sides are back to talking tomorrow which is still better than the 3 months it took the two sides to face each other back in 04.

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