Wow this all really sucks. On Tuesday there was as much excitement about hockey as there has been since the Kings lifted the Cup back in mid-June. Now in the last two days it’s pretty much all been erased again. On Thursday the NHLPA came back with three distinct variations on the proposal that the Owners made, and to quote Sidney Crosby,
When you make three proposals and get shut down in 10 minutes, it’s hard to think the other side really wants to negotiate.
The Same-Old-Bettman, or Bitchman (as he’ll probably go down in history) summarily dismissed the PA’s proposals as “a step backwards.” And Bill Daly said that somehow the Players “misrepresented their 50-50 split.” What all of it means is that we’re probably further from seeing actual NHL hockey than any time before this. Links from [THN] and [PHT] to summarize the day’s proceedings.
A bunch more crap after the break. Read the rest of this entry »
So baseball is over for another year in Pittsburgh. The Pirates season ended yesterday in a 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Overall the team went 79-83. For what it’s worth I predicted 75-87 and warned of the potential of a second half meltdown like they experienced last year. I wish I could be as good at predicting hockey stuff as I am at predicting the Pirates. But then again, the Pirates just do everything to make it so easy. The only thing that really ruins Collapse II for me is that I missed out on winning $60 from a poll I did at work on the Pirates’ record by 2 wins (77 and it was mine). Now instead I have to give $5 to one of the managers who already makes plenty of money as it is—not fun when that $5 is more than 1% of your monthly earnings. More bitching after the break… Read the rest of this entry »
So the PA and the NHL talked from Friday through Sunday basically nonstop. That’s good news. The bad news is that both sides continue to refuse to acknowledge the presence of an enormous white elephant in the room called collective bargaining. If you want to know how secondary these discussions were, neither Bettman nor Donald Fehr could be bothered to be there, instead they were probably out golfing.
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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.
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.
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.
The title pretty much says it all. The Pens were scheduled to face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first preseason game of the year. At this point we ought to be debating whether Tangradi can really play wing for Sid, and who out of Despres, Joe Morrow, and others will assert themselves as the best young defenseman on the team.
Also, if you didn’t know, all the preseason games in September are cancelled—woo hoo. Get more stuff after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Honestly don’t really have anything to say about the NHL and its lockout situation right now. Bill Daly said that he and Steve Fehr will be talking this evening about when the two sides can get together to, well, talk. It may be hollow words and it’s undoubtedly true that the lockout has already begun, but still, compared to 2004 when the two sides couldn’t even look at each other for months after the lockout began, this is a step in the right direction—at least both sides seem willing to talk to one another.
In a bizarre twist, ESPN seems to be the only media source that I’ve checked so far that actually has a continually updating list of NHLers signing with European teams. It seems shocking that there aren’t hundreds of players who have fled overseas yet, but I also don’t doubt that most players are waiting for a variety of offers to come in, and we all know that’s something that cannot be rushed. EDIT:
TSN has one now too, but neither is updated to the bleeding edge and ESPN’s looks better if I’m honest.
There are some unusual lockout solutions coming out of the woodworks:
- Apparently the Minnesota Wild and every other NHL player from that state are holding workouts and skating sessions together. That’s kind of cool. It might not be the “right thing” to be doing, but then again, the individual Players have virtually nothing at all to do right now, so why not go have fun.
- In a similar mindset, apparently every NHL player from Quebec wants to get together and form a pair of exhibition teams to play against one another. They also want to give the money from ticket sales to charity, which probably doesn’t help the PA position that NHL Players won’t be able to feed their kids if their salaries are cut back. But again, that’s a noble cause, and if the players are going to enjoy themselves doing that, good for them. [Stick tap to Pensblog for bringing this one to our attention].
Now for everyone who wants to say, “What the hell are the players doing, fleeing overseas, playing pick-up games, why aren’t they working on playing real games in the NHL?” Well, frankly it’s out of their hands now. Now that we’re into the lockout it all comes down to Bettman-Daly and Fehr-Fehr, the individual Players aren’t allowed anywhere near the Owners and vice-versa, now it’s time for the representatives to take care of business, it’s as simple as that.
My one piece of actual analysis for the day is this: Sidney Crosby is either going to sign with Magnitogorsk or he’s not signing anywhere. So far, none of Sid’s friends have signed overseas, except for Geno, and I think Sid would relish the opportunity to be Geno’s foil in terms of popularity and role on the team. But there’s a good chance that Sid will elect to stay home and close to the negotiations, I did just say that he can’t get too close, however, his speech from last week is endemic of how involved he wants to be to negotiations and if he felt that his voice could get things done, I don’t expect that he would rather do that than make some more money that he doesn’t need.
But then again, we’ll probably here that he’s signing with the Belfast Giants tomorrow morning and everything I just said was shit.