My Two Cents for October 30th, 2012
A Bad Situation Gets Worse- A week ago the NHL put a proposal on the table for the NHLPA to go over and ratify in the hopes to end a lockout which now is in it’s seventh week. The proposal was for a 50/50 split of revenue between the league and it’s players. NHLPA only needs about 10 minutes to dismiss the proposal while offering three of their own. The NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman likewise quickly dismissed all three Players Association counter offers, which meant the lockout will continue for an indefinite period of time. The NHL upon rejecting the players proposal after the players said “no” to the league proposal cancelled all games for the month of November. A total of 326 games are now wiped off the NHL 2012-13 schedule eliminating any hope of a full 82 game schedule if the league returns to play this season. With all games scrubbed in November, inevitably more games in December will soon become casualties of the lockout with the Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs likely to be one of the next dominos to fall. Negotiations have stalled with no plans to resume talks any time soon. The chances are growing more slimmer by the minute that their will be an NHL season this year. This sadly is starting to take the shape and form of a grim reality. Season ticket holders are left holding the bag. Resourceful fans are turning to leagues such as the AHL, ECHL, OHL to get their hockey void filled. Collegiate hockey should be seeing an increase in their attendance as hockey starved fans look to the NCAA to provide a good alternative, which they usually do. The Frozen Four this spring is one of the best under rated Collegiate sports events you can see. Most college hockey games are worth the price of admission and truly fun games to attend.
Monday afternoon NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN.ca that he had no news to report. “We withdrew our most recent proposal on Friday, and now we are spending time thinking about our next proposal and how best to get closer to a resolution.” Daly continued, “We hope the Union is doing the same thing. Given the fact that the Union refused even to discuss our last proposal, it would appear that we still have a large gulf to bridge.”*** Because of Hurricane Sandy pounding the eastern seaboard this week, that would be one understandable reason to delay negotiations. However, the fact is that the NHL and the NHLPA knew this lockout was a possibility a long time ago. Despite that, they did very little to resolve the issue earlier and decided for whatever reason to “kick the can down the road” and wait until just before the current CBA expired. Considering what happened eight years ago, it’s both amazing and equally appalling that the powers that be allowed for this situation to just fester and grow to this point. It shows not only a lack of any leadership on Commissioner Gary Bettman’s part, but also just a stark indifference on Donald Fehr’s part as he too is culpable. Since both of these men have successfully shut down operations in two professional sports league’s in the past, you have to know they have no interpretations as far as doing it again in the name of feeding both of their over inflated egos. This shows a total and blatant lack of leadership by Commissioner Bettman.
Fans Need To Make A Statement- So what can you the fan do in light of all of this shenanigans from the powers that be? Fans do have options. What I don’t recommend is that you cancel your season tickets unless it’s a matter of necessity based on your personal economic conditions. Also, the people working the ticket offices again don’t have anything to do with what is going on and have no say. They are only doing what they are told to do, and by now many of these offices are operating with minimal staff. If you haven’t done so already, call your local teams ticket office to get refunds on all cancelled games. As far as fans making a statement, there are things fans can and should do. One is that until the league resumes playing, simply stop buying team merchandise. This may be hard for some especially with the Holiday Season after Thanksgiving quickly approaching, however if the league is not operating why buy the merchandise. It does not mean your are not loyal to your team, it just means that you are watching your dollars and that since NHL franchise are not playing, there is no real point to buying their merchandise either. I like Sharks gear as much as any Sharks fan, but it will look out of place at any other sports events which are not hockey related. The NHL or any other sports league while locked out simply should not profit until the league resumes playing.
Also, one idea which I feel will make the most impact should fans elect to do it is to send the NHL and NHLPA a message just to let them know that this work stoppage in the end hurt the paying customer who certainly has been through more than their share of work stoppages during Gary Bettman’s stewardship as NHL Commissioner. What I am proposing is that when the league starts playing again, fans simply show up fashionably late for the first game. How late? Try the second period. That’s right, when the league resumes play fans around the NHL should make their own voices heard by sitting out the first period of the first games back whether they happen this season, or not until 2013-14. This may only be symbolic to some, however it does send a message to the league and it’s team owners that the paying customers do not appreciate the actions of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr. Bettman and Fehr are clearly playing a game of “chicken” at this point and are just trying to see who will flinch first. Since their combined egos would fill most NHL arenas just by themselves, it may be best just to send these two gentlemen a message of fan dis-satisfaction. If all arenas are empty for the first period and especially since most NHL games are televised, it would send a message to the owners that this lockout regardless of whatever justification they may have was not appreciated by fans. An empty arena in the first period would be embarrassing for all, however right now maybe Bettman and Fehr need to be embarrassed just enough to send them a message that the fans support the league, but do not support the meddling and overall interference of this league’s operation thanks to two egocentric men.
The fact that Bettman has allowed this to happen four times in his 20 years as Commissioner and has only proven that a marketing mogul does not make a good league Commissioner. This would also be true in the sports of baseball, football and basketball. Once this lockout is over fans really franchises too need to start demanding the resignation of Commissioner Gary Bettman. He has shown that he cannot be trusted with the keys to this league and if allowed to stay in as commissioner will one day soon just drive the NHL right off of the cliff if he hasn’t already. Donald Fehr meanwhile is only in it for his paycheck and his ego as well. Fehr is no saint. He shut down Major League Baseball in 1994 and knows he has the power to close down an entire professional sports league at will. Had Fehr been the players representative for the NFL strike in the Spring of 2011, it’s conceivable NFL Commissioner Roger Godell would not have salvaged the first few weeks of the season at minimum. Fehr says he is in it for the players benefit, however the players cannot benefit if they are missing paychecks. Players in the minor league systems may still get their checks meanwhile, but lose a year of development in the process. Seeing players go over to Europe, the KHL or minor league teams throughout the United States and Canada does not benefit the players who are now at risk of injury.
Now do I expect fans to boycott the first period of opening games once the NHL does return? Realistically, no. The reason for the suggestion is simply this, to send a message to both the league and the NHL Players Association that the fans were effected too and when lockouts happen, the shield of the NHL is damaged and so is the fans trust. Once this lockout is finally settled, whenever it’s settled, the fact will remain that Gary Bettman will still be the Commissioner, and Donald Fehr will be the NHLPA’s head. Until the day Bettman finally steps down, and Fehr calls it a career, the next lockout will not be a question of “if”, just “when”, and the song and dance will just continue. As far as this lockout goes, have a Snickers or two, it will be awhile…a long while.
San Jose Sharks Games Lost- For the Sharks, gone are are a total of 12 games including six that would have been played at the Shark Tank. Amongst home dates lost are Nov 3rd vs Colorado, Nov 8th vs Buffalo, Nov 10th vs the New York Islanders, Nov 17th vs Columbus, Nov 20th vs Chicago and Nov 24th vs arch rival Anaheim. Road Games out the window include Nov 5th at Colorado, Nov 13th at Phoenix, Nov 15th at Dallas, Nov 23rd at Los Angeles, Nov 27th at Washington; and Nov 29th at Pittsburgh. If you are a season ticket holder, you may want to call the Sharks to arrange for a refund of all of your November home game tickets.
Players Growing Impatient- Buffalo Sabres goal Ryan Miller is the latest lockout player to chime in on the lockout situation. “If a team needs a goalie, I need to start considering it,” Miller wrote in an email to ESPN The Magazine. Miller continued, “I think that a deal is there to be made and recent events lead me to believe the NHL is simply testing us. After they have satisfied their curiosity about the strength of our resolve we will have real negotiating for the first time in this whole debacle.” Miller added, “The two sides are close enough to a deal that missing the bulk of a season is wrong and missing an entire season is not only insane, it is a blatant disregard for the sport, the fans and the culture we have grown over decades — just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side.”*
The Sharks’ Patrick Marleau also voiced displeasure with the lockout proceedings. “Their proposal started talks, and then they kind of shut them down as soon as we started talking,” Marleau said. “They wanted 50-50, we got to 50-50, and they took 10 minutes to disregard three proposals where we actually took their offer and took some time to dissect it.” Marleau continued, “They come out and they say they want what’s best for hockey, but then their actions don’t back that up. It’s kind of happened throughout the whole negotiations, so at this point we don’t expect anything less out of them.”**
Worcester Sharks Update- The AHL’s Sharks affiliate picked up their first win of the season this past Saturday Night when they handled the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-1 at Worcester’s DCU Center. Three days later the AHL Sharks got past Bridgeport with a 5-2 win. In between the two home games versus Bridgeport, the Sharks also dropped a 5-1 decision to the Manchester Monarchs. The Sharks currently are sitting in fourth place in their division with a 2-4-1 record. Sebastian Stalberg leads the AHL Sharks with four goals, while Tim Kennedy leads the team in points scored with eight (three goals, five assist). Sena Acolatse has scored three goals, while Yanni Gourde and Jon Matsumoto have two goals each.
San Francisco Bulls Update- The Sharks ECHL affiliate meanwhile had a rough go of it in Anchorage, Alaska this past weekend. The Alaska Aces swept a three game set against the Bulls, winning 4-1 this past Friday evening. On Saturday, again the Bulls could not keep up with the Aces in a 5-2 loss. Sunday, the Bulls got two late goals in the third period. However the goals were also “too late” as the Aces held on for a 3-2 win. Bulls Captain Justin Bowers leads the team with 10 points, scoring four goals while adding six assist. Dean Ouellet meanwhile has added eight points with four goals and four assist. Jordan Clendenning has seven points with two goals plus five assist. Kevin Baker and Sacha Guimond have five points each. The Bulls travel to Loveland, Colorado (about 55 miles north of Denver) to take on the Colorado Eagles for a two game set on this Friday & Saturday night. The Bulls right now have a 2-4-2 record for six points in the standings, but currently are in the cellar of the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Non-Hockey Item: Congrats to the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants- The San Francisco Giants made Bay Area sports history this week as the orange and black, trailing three games to one to the St Louis Cardinals got very hot at the right time. The Giants defeated the Cardinals in the final three games by 5-0, 6-1, 9-0 to take the National League Championship series in seven games. The Giants carried the momentum of the final three games of the NLCS right into the Fall Classic. Once in the World Series, the Giants proceeded to continue their hot streak against the Detroit Tigers. The Giants hammered the Detroit Tigers, winning in a four game sweep 8-3; 2-0; 2-0 and finally 4-3 in 10 innings. The Giants got hot in most if not all of the right areas and at the absolute right time. Pablo Sandoval ignited Giants party in Game One with not one, not two, but three home runs which tied a record held most recently by former Cardinal Albert Pujos in the 2011 World Series against Texas. One time Oakland A’s player Reggie Jackson famously did it for the New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977. Babe Ruth also accomplished this feat many years before most of us were ever even thought of.
Sandoval was named series MVP for hitting .500 and also showing some stellar defense as the Tigers could not buy a break. The rest of the team, Buster Posey, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro and many other key players all picked the right time to get hot and come together as a team. The Giants also had the better pitching, getting sterling efforts from Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum along with Sergio Romo and the bullpen. The Tigers had strong players as Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. Once you get past those four, the Tigers really did not have that much to offer and the Giants jumped all over them.
This was the Giants second title in three years, and the Giants conducted themselves the right way throughout. The reason the Giants were able to put away this series in four games was because the pitching was able to shut down the Tigers and kept the bats out of Cabrera’s and Fielder’s hands as much as possible. Neither player was able to get anything going through out the World Series. Because of this, the Tigers end were let down by their own devices. They lived by the sword, and subsequently they died on it as the result. That, plus the Giants were more of a 25 man roster who just won six eliminations games before they faced the Tigers. The Giants were determined not to have their backs to the wall again as they were versus Cincinnati and St. Louis. They didn’t, and ultimately they won because of it.
…Just my two cents…
The King Shark
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