My Two Cents for September 3rd:
Now They Are Not Talking- The labor talks between the owners and the NHLPA have gone virtually nowhere over the last week and broke off this past Friday with no new talks scheduled. With both sides very far apart on key issues, it seems almost a certainty baring some last minute agreement to extend the talks Commission Gary Bettman will order the NHL to lockout the players effective September 15th. Should this happen, this will mark the league’s fourth shut down due to a labor dispute in the last 20 years, and we all know what happened the last time there was such an impasse. This also increases the likelihood that there will be a delay in the start of the season or having the season truncated, best case scenario. We all know what the worst case scenario is and went though that episode eight years ago.
The Issues Revisited Yet Again- Stop me if you haven’t heard this or read this before. What the owners want is a proposal where the players’ share in revenue would be cut from 57 per cent to 46 per cent and would include a change to the way the salary cap is calculated. Instead of being set at $8 million above the midpoint, the upper limit would be reduced to $4 million above resulting in the salary cap dropping to $50.8 million next season, or well below where it is presently set at. Additionally, the league also wants to get rid of salary arbitration and limit contracts to a maximum of five years with the salary being equal throughout the duration of each contact (i.e. the elimination of signing bonuses and ending Ryan Suter and Zach Parise type deals). Also, the league wants players to agree to 10 years of service in the league before they can qualify for free agency. The NHLPA on the other hand really wants nothing to do with this proposal. NHLPA leader Donald Fehr wants instead a revenue sharing plan that would allow for struggling franchises to get some financial relief while allowing current players to not give up much of what they already are enjoying. Sound familiar? It should, this paragraph has been in my last two articles. If I have to repeat this a third time, this should give you a pretty good idea of why the talks are stalling. Nobody is giving an inch or checking their overblown ego’s at the door.
In A Lockout, Nobody Wins- If the league does lockout players after September 15th, this will be a blow to a league that has slowly tried to build some good will back after a season long work stoppage that cancelled the entire 2004-05 season. Even an abbreviated work stoppage will have some consequence as far as the league’s public relations go. Season ticket holders for starters have already renewed and many at the costs of thousands of dollars. Many of those season ticket holders have been around for some time and though they will likely remain loyal their patience with the league and Commissioner Bettman will no doubt be tested once again. The players will obviously miss time, but this will have more of an impact on the younger players. There will be those who will go play either in Europe or the KHL while the NHL is in lockout mode. Martin St.Louis and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lighting indicated in an interview with TSN that they and many other players will go elsewhere this year if the NHL does shut down.* The Owners are betting up to a season worth of revenues that somehow they will get their way in full. The owners tried to do this eight years ago and were willing along with Commissioner Bettman to allow a season to go away just to get their point across as to who truly is in charge here.
The last time the NHL did this, ESPN walked away and vowed they would never be back. ESPN has since held to that vow as the NBA is now “King” on their network. The NHL regular season is rarely if ever mentioned on Sportscenter, and ESPN clearly could give two hockey pucks about the playoffs although they did make mention of the Stanley Cup Final. Thanks to Commissioner Bettman and the NHL owners, ESPN will never be back and wants virtually nothing to do with the NHL. Sure, a deal was ultimately done with what would become the NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports, but it does not have the same reach as ESPN. If the league were to shut down again for another season, who’s to say NBC Sports won’t have second thoughts. Of course, there are contracts signed throughout the 2020-21 season, however based on what happened eight years ago you don’t think NBC does not have an “out clause” if something like this happens? ESPN did and exercised it. They simply won’t be back, period, done.
Who is the big loser here?- That would be the season ticket holders and the fans in general who follow the NHL. Fans like us. If you know the culture of the NHL fan base, it’s quite unique because the fan base of the NHL is more of a family than any other major sports leagues. The NFL obviously has it unique base, however the NHL following is something that most fans are born with. Those who don’t get the sport don’t get it. Those who do get the sport love it like no other. For those who follow and understand hockey, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not get or like hockey, no explanation will suffice. Bettman though for all of the things you can argue that have added to the game of hockey (and he has done some good things for the sport), the majority of what he has done has been destructive in one sense or the other. As a marketing mogul, he may have done a decent job in marketing the game, however he has no concept of the fans prospective and for that matter that of the players who sacrifice much to do this for a living. Most of the players do it because of their love for the game of hockey, not to mention that the fans are like no other. They don’t do it because Gary Bettman is the league’s Commissioner. The sooner we have an actual hockey man in the Commissioner’s seat, the better off the league will be and the happier the fans, players, and even owners will be. Without Bettman, we likely would have had a 2004-05 season (and who knows who would have won the cup that season), and would not be at the brink of another work stoppage today.
Ill Timing with NFL Starting, MLB Playoffs Near- The other consequence of a lockout, strike, whatever you would want to call it also means attention to the NHL once it does resume would be minimized by other major league sports either starting or hitting their stride. The NFL kick’s off Wednesday (9/5) with the Dallas Cowboys taking on the defending league champion New York Giants. The league’s first full Sunday is September 9th. The interest in the NFL is an all season long affair. Really that’s nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that with a lockout the NHL will be removing itself from any significant headlines or fan interest (even in Canada). The pennant chases are alive and well in Major League Baseball, and both Bay Area teams (the Giants & A’s) are vying for possible playoff positions. The rest of this month and well into October MLB will be a headliner. Of course, the NBA starts it’s season Halloween Night and runs it’s schedule though the winter months alongside the NHL. Admittedly I’m not much of an NBA fan myself as to me it’s the lesser of all four major league sports. However there are those who do follow it anyway. ESPN jumped on it right after they dumped the NHL eight years ago. Most hockey fans may not be NBA fans, but even the NBA with stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will certainly take extra attention away from the NHL.
The whole point here is simple. Every day the NHL is not playing because of a labor dispute, the less relevant it will be nationally. Will the NHL lose the hard core fans? Of course not. However, the NHL was just recently getting the casual and fringe fans back before this. Once those fans leave for a second time, the lesser chance that most of them will ever come back. Don’t look at that as a good thing. As with any other major league sport, even the fringe or casual fans mean something and fill seats just like anyone else would. The NHL will take a pretty good public relations hit and also a hit in terms of ticket sales and merchandising. If you think for a second this bothers Bettman, please think again. Bettman gets paid whether or not the league plays a game. He’s let one season go down the drain. Bettman is very firmly a “My Way or No Way” person and that was proven in the last lockout. Not exactly the healthiest thing for a major league sport to have a commissioner who feels he’s bigger than the league itself.
What the Two Sides Are Saying- Commissioner Bettman: “Somebody needs to be in a position to offer or say something new, and considering that we made such a large move on Tuesday, to have gotten the response that we got is disappointing. Bettman continued, “We’re not in a position to go back and offer more and negotiate against ourselves.”* Bettman has claimed that the NHLPA is engaging in “stonewalling” tactics and is trying to put him and the owners in the position of “negotiating against themselves.”*
Donald Fehr, head of the NHLPA has said: “We’ll be prepared to resume when they are. Hopefully, that won’t be too long.” Fehr went on to state that either side could continue negotiations at any time and that the players union will remain in New York if and when Bettman is ready to resume talks. *
We can only hope at this point that people start acting like adults here and get a deal or an extension hammered out within the next week and a half. Just don’t bet your mortgage on it.
Sharks on NBC Sports Network in 2012-13- The San Jose Sharks will be featured prominently on the NBC Sports Network, with seven team teal games to be featured on their airwaves. All of the games covered by NBC Sports Network are going to be away games, starting with their game Thursday, November 15th at Dallas against the Stars. Face-off will be 5pm Pacific Time (7pm in Dallas). The other six games will be:
Tuesday December 4th at Buffalo 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET
Thursday January 17th at Minnesota 5pm PT/7pm CT
Tuesday January 22nd at St Louis 5pm PT/7pm CT
Thursday February 14th at Tampa Bay 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET
Monday March 18th at Dallas 5pm PT/7pm CT
Saturday April 13th at Phoenix 6pm PDT/MST
As the season progresses and games become more significant, there is a good chance that if the Sharks are in contention games will be added to NBC Sports Net’s Schedule including some games played at the Tank.
Un-Restricted Free Agents Still Available of Note- F Andrew Brunette, F Brendan Morrison, D Sean O’Donnell (Chicago); F Jason Blake, G Dan Ellis, F Niklas Hagman (Anaheim); G Curtis Sanford, F Kristian Huselius (Columbus); F Radek Dvorak, G Andrew Raycroft (Dallas); F Tomas Holmstrom, G Ty Conklin (Detroit); D Cam Barker (Edmonton); D Kurtis Foster (Minnesota); F Brodie Dupont, F Andrei Kostitsyn, F Zack Stortini (Nashville); F Shane Doan, F Daymond Langkow (Phoenix); D Jim Vandermeer, D Colin White, F Brad Winchester (Sharks); F Jason Arnott (St.Louis); F Samuel Pahlsson (Vancouver); F Brian Rolston (Boston); F Jochen Hecht (Buffalo); F Mark Cullen, F John Madden, D Keith Seabrook, F Marco Sturm (Florida); D Chris Campoli (Montreal); G Timo Pielmeier, F Petr Sykora (New Jersey); D Steve Eminger (New York Rangers); D Matt Gilroy (Ottawa); D Pavel Kubina, F Ian Laperriere (Philadelphia); D Mike Commodore, G Dwayne Roloson (Tampa Bay); F Mike Knuble (Washington); D Andrei Zubarev (Winnipeg).
The NHL’s 10 Best Captains- At NHL.com, there is an interesting feature regarding what they consider to be the best 10 Team Captains in the history of the NHL. Mark Messier is regarded as the best Team Captain of all time according to the article. Messier is the only player in NHL history to serve as captain for two Cup-winning franchises, Edmonton in 1990 (one year after the Wayne Gretzky trade to the Los Angeles Kings). Messier was also the Captain of the New York Rangers who in 1994 snapped a 54 year Stanley Cup drought, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games after taking down the rival New Jersey Devils also in seven games. Messier was famous for his guarantee the Rangers would win the series against New Jersey after the Rangers fell behind 3 games to 2 in the series. Messier also scored the game winning goal in the finals versus the Canucks. Messier’s career accomplishments include 6 Stanley Cups, 2 Hart Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy. Messier is also the all time number two scorer on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Others on the list in this order are 10) Shane Doan; 9) Ray Bourque; 8- Joe Sakic; 7) Sidney Crosby; 6) Bob Clarke; 5) Nicklas Lidstrom; 4) Denis Potvin; 3) Jean Beliveau; 2) Steve Yzerman with Messier being at the top of the list. See the feature article for yourself here:
It’s Labor Day Week, So Don’t Forget about MDA- Though the days of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethon are sadly history now, the Muscular Dystrophy Association is still around and still needs help in finding a cure for the over 40 neuromuscular diseases. Please donate if you are able to. Please call 1-800-FIGHTMDA.
…Just My Two Cents…
The King Shark
Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey
The Jessica Redfield Ghawi Foundation:
PS: *The opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect on any other staff member’s opinions with Blades Of Teal, Fansided or their websites themselves… The King Shark…
*-source: TSN.ca http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=404230