Let’s Ring in the Lockout by Spending Silly Money (Or Exactly What the Owners are So Determined to Do Away With)

Well the NHL will be locking out players at 11:59PM tonight. Before they do that though many Owners have made last ditch efforts to pay exorbitant contracts to their players to lock them up for a while.

The lockout is upon us. My advice is to not get all worked up about it. Yes, it sucks, but if you stay cool throughout the situation, it won’t be as bad. With that said, a little media to help you pass the time…


Lockout Thoughts: The End is Nigh 2: Thus Spoke Crosby

I don’t know if there will ever be a satisfactory CBA arrangement for the NHL under its current 30 team structure. 30 teams is just too many, and the burden of that sits on the League itself.

When it comes to the percentage of seats filled at home games, there’s no arguing the point that the expansion and relocation markets from the 90s and 00s are the worst at actually filling seats. I’ve used this source before, but here’s the bottom 10 in terms of percentage of seats filled this last season in the NHL.

Only two of the teams on this list weren’t relocated or constituted as new expansion teams within the last 20 years: the Devils and the Islanders. The Islanders are eternally plagued by a bad team, horrible arena, and incompetent ownership. The Devils are unfortunately located in Newark, New Jersey. The only recent expansion teams that didn’t make this list: Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, and Winnipeg Jets. Except for San Jose all three other teams are in traditional hockey markets, Minnesota isn’t called “The State of Hockey” without reason.

Thus, it’s the small market teams who have the most to lose, they can’t give away their tickets, and as such they don’t have any money to pay for players. We are not advocating that the Cap should be removed, but when you look at it, there is no way that simply cutting player salary expenditures are going to help the league fix attendance problems in the American South.

I don’t understand how the Owners can be so united in their efforts: it is only because of the prosperity of the large market teams that the small market teams need to spend so much in order to be cap compliant. In a very literal sense it is the 8 NHL teams that somehow managed to average over 100% attendance over the entire season who have driven up the revenues from which the salary cap is based.

Now we’ll move onto Sid’s speech and comments: basically, everything written above is what he meant to say in his speech. Although at one point he started talking about how hard he had been training this offseason to get ready for a season that is probably not going to start when it ought to. As a Pens fan that might be the hardest bit to swallow. You just get the sense that Crosby just has a quiet determination to dominate the league this year. It’ll suck if that league ends up being the KHL.

As with Fehr’s speech I didn’t see it live but it really seems like the Players are trying to sow the seeds of discontent between the Big Money Owners and the less fortunate. To be sure, this tactic just comes off as tired.

To reiterate the historical context yet again, when Fehr organized the MLBPA strike, the MLB owners were a divided group, on one hand there were teams like the Yankees that wanted to win at any cost, on the other hand there were small market teams like the Brewers who couldn’t afford big stars and just wanted to stop losing money every season. Fehr came along at the perfect time and drove a huge stake between them he got the small market teams to concede to no limits on contracts, and he convinced the big market teams to give the small market teams money so they would stop losing it. It worked beautifully back then, but no matter what he’s tried, the same tactic hasn’t worked with the NHL owners.

Hey, d’you see what I did there, it says “NO”?!?!

That was the key to Bettman’s conference which occurred a couple hours after the Players. The Owners had been in meetings while the PA made their appeal. During the Owners meetings, all 30 Owners voted unanimously to allow Bettman to lock out the league on Saturday. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Yes, James Dolan, owner of the Rangers said that he would be interested in hearing more from the PA, and yes Mario and Burkle don’t seem the sort to demand such things from the players, but again, the Owners are just as unified in this as the Players.

So what it all means is that we’re headed for a lockout. I really believe that this can be a contained lockout though. If each side can make one meaningful concession to the other I see no reason why the season can’t start on time. In a worst case scenario they should have the ability to be playing by Thanksgiving. Right now the big question is if either side will make that one meaningful concession.


Lockout Thoughts: Judgment Day

Every post we’ve done in the last month has dealt with the negotiations between the Owners and the Players. Today could be the last time they meet before the lockout becomes a reality. The word “lockout” has a really dirty connotation to fans of the NHL, and with good reason, but as we said recently, even if the Players get locked out on Saturday, that may not be the end of the world.

Everywhere on the Internets, Players have been reiterating their desire to work after the September 15 deadline. This wasn’t the case in 2004-05 when the PA and the Owners didn’t talk to one another until months after the lockout began.

Over 300 players are expected to show up and talk with the Owners today. That’s almost half of the league. The fear, as far as I can see, is that with so many players coming together, it’s not to say “Hey we’re all happy to take a 12% pay cut!” More than likely it’s an effort to show the “force” behind the PA at the expense of the Owners. That’s not good.

If that really is the Players’ intention, I’m going to be heartbroken, I don’t want to see a mass demonstration from the Players, I want to see them working with the Owners to come to a resolution that works for both sides and guarantees that I’m watching the Penguins demolish the Islanders in exactly one month’s time. We’ll have more after the Players and Owners get together today (should be at 11:30.

(Also, huge stick tap to thePensblog for the love in their most recent Link City post. If you don’t read them, you’re crazy.)


The Counterproposal, Part 2: Are You Kidding Me?

This is what I see when I think about the CBA

This NHL offseason is getting depressing. Because meetings between actual owners and actual players were getting nowhere, the top representatives for each side: Gary Bettman and Bill Daly for the Owners and Donald and Steve Fehr for the Players decided to have their own private meeting yesterday. That resulted in the Owners making yet another new proposal, although from what information exists about it, basically all they did was take their original proposal and change the way things were worded rather than actually begin the process of working towards a compromise with the players. That’s not good. Read more when you click the link… Read the rest of this entry »


A Modest Proposal,Part Trois

Okay so part three in the Modest Proposal series. If you haven’t read Part One or Part Two, read those first. Part three will make infinitely more sense if you read the first two. That being said, Part Three is concerned with everyone’s hot-button issue: Divisional Alignments.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Modest Proposal, Part Deaux

So in our last Modest Proposal, we investigated what the deal was with the point system. In moving along with that theme, we’d like to go forward and investigate the big mama of all large ladies – the Divisional Alignments. HERE. WE. GO.

The NHL is currently set up with two Conferences – East and West – with three Divisions in each Conferences – Atlantic, Northeast, and Southeast in the East and the Central, Northwest, and the Pacific in the West. Each division has five teams. Divisional opponents play one another six times per year, Conference opponents play one another four times per year, and each team plays a total of 18 Inter-Conference (East teams against West teams, and vice versa…) per year. This makes a grand total of 82 games in a regular season. Simply put…:

Current Regular Season Schedule

That being said, they playoffs works like this: each of the Divisions has a head honcho, the big wig, the main man, or in the case of the Southeast Division a medium large contender. The team that earns the most points of their respective division, astonishingly, wins the division. For example:

2011-2012 Atlantic Division

The New York Rangers amassed 109 points over the regular season, more than any other team in the Atlantic Division. Simple question follows: why would my team want to win their division? Well, other than the obvious answer of that team having the best record assuming it would be a winning one, they get an automatic berth into the playoffs.

That means that there are 6 automatic playoff bids – one for each of the divisions. There are a 8 playoff spots in each conference, making a total of 16 spots. Here’s where it gets interesting:

2011-2012 Eastern Conference Standings

Lets look at the rest of the Eastern Conference from this year. The three division leaders are NY Rangers, Boston, and Florida. Like we said, they get an automatic bid into the playoffs. After those 3 spots, there are 5 left. Those 5 spots go to the 5 teams (from any division) with the next best regular season records.

The NY Rangers amassed 109 points, Boston 102, and Florida 94 this season. If you look down the list, the next best teams are (in order of record) Pittsburgh (108), Philadelphia (105), New Jersey (102), Washington (92), and Ottawa (92).  These teams make up the playoff teams from the Eastern Conference. They are seeded according to the way we have listed them (i.e. NYR 1, BOS 2, etc.)

Okay. Pause. Question: Why is it that if a team, say Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, has more points than another team, say Boston or Florida, is the first team seeded lower? That, my hockey friends, is a very good question. The answer is that the division leaders, regardless of record, get a playoff berth as well as one of the top three seeds in that conference, which is ranked according to record. Specifically speaking:

2011-2012 Eastern Conference Playoff Standings

Going off of the last two infographics, we see that despite Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New Jersey having better regular season records than both Boston and Florida, they are ranked lower because Boston and Florida are division leaders.

Okay, another question: what’s the point of finishing with a good record if your division is already locked up? Right. That’s what everyone, including Peter Laviollette. I can’t find where, but he was pretty upset (imagine that) about having to play the Pens in the first round, despite having a better record than Florida and Boston. I would be too. I don’t want to play Philly in the first round. It’s going to be a bloodbath. Whichever team wins will undoubtedly limp out of the first round.

So now we see the problem with the way the seeding is set up. What’s the Pens’ reward for capturing the second best record in the East (4th best in the NHL)? Playing the Flyers in the first round (3rd best in East, 6th best in the league.) Doesn’t sound fair.

no worries

So what’s our solution? Look for our next installment coming soon. It would have been too much to put in one post.