Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

My Two Cents: NHL HOF Inducts Four; The Lockout Just Goes On as Bettman Becomes "Nero"...


My Two Cents for November 13th:

Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Four Greats Join The NHL Hall of Fame- After leading this column with the NHL Lockout for almost every week since June, I decided to lead with something different today. I will get to the lockout momentarily, but first I want to instead focus on and recognize the NHL’s Class of 2012 in this year’s Hall of Fame Inductions which took place in Toronto Monday. Congratulations go out to the four newest members of the Hall of Fame; Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin and Adam Oates who are now enshrined in professional hockey’s ultimate destination. Joe Sakic was a player that is become more of a rarity these days, having spent his entire professional career with one franchise. Sakic was the first round draft pick back in 1987 for the late Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche). In his career, Sakic played 20 seasons and retired as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 625 goals and 1,016 assists. Sakic also won the Hart Trophy in 2001, as well as the Conn Smythe trophy in 1996 when he lead the Avs to their first of two Stanley Cup titles (the second of which happened five seasons later in 2001). Sakic in addition also earned MVP honors at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as Canada skated off with the gold medal.

Pavel Bure had quite a solid career in his 12 NHL seasons. Bure spent his playing career with two teams, the Vancouver Canucks and later the Florida Panthers. Bure was better known to some as the “Russian Rocket” and won the Calder Trophy in 1992 with the Canucks. Bure also captured the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2000 and 2001 with the Panthers. In his 12 NHL seasons, Bure scored 437 goals and added 342 assists. Bure in his career averaged over 36 goals per season and twice scored 60 goals in one season. In back to back seasons, Bure hit the 60 mark for the Canucks in the 1992-93 season, and repeated the feat in 1993-94. Bure would come close to hitting the 60 mark again twice, scoring 58 goals in the 1999-2000 season for the Panthers. One year later, Bure came close again netting 59 goals. Bure also had a 51 goal season in 1997-98, his final season in Vancouver.

Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Mats Sundin played 13 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and still holds the franchise records for most points, goals, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals and overtime goals. In short, Sundin virtually did it all for the Maple Leafs and was viewed as the “go to guy” for most of his career. In his career, Sundin totaled 1,349 points in netting 564 goals and 785 assists. Sundin almost averaged exactly a point a game in his career, playing in a total of 1,346 career NHL games. Though Sundin never played for a Stanley Cup champion, he was an Olympic champion at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in winning the Gold Medal for Sweden.

Not to be outdone, Adam Oates had a sterling career in his own right. Oates is the sixth all time leading assist leader having played an almost unheard of 22 NHL seasons. Oates spent his playing career with seven NHL teams, starting with the Detroit Red Wings from 1985 to 1989. After his time with the Red Wings, Oates moved on the the St Louis Blues (1989 to 1992), the Boston Bruins (1992 to 1997), the Washington Capitals (1997-2002), the Philadelphia Flyers (2002), the Anaheim Ducks (2002-03). Oates wrapped up his career spending his last season (2003-04) with the Edmonton Oilers. Oates in this time scored 341 career goals while adding 1,079 assist in 1,334 career NHL games. Oates career season high in goals scored was 45 during the 1992-93 season with the Bruins.

Looking ahead to the next year’s Hall of Fame inductions, players such as Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan, Eric Lindros, Chris Chelios, and former Sharks Captain Rob Blake are amongst those who may be up for strong consideration. Each one of these players has the career marks that back up their case for The Hall and at least a couple if not more should be enshrined a year from now.

 

Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Lockout: Bettman has become the new “Nero”- As for the ongoing tragedy known by most hockey fans as the NHL’s fourth lockout under Commissioner Gary Bettman, this has become something that seemingly will just drag on for quite awhile. At this point, it’s not a matter now of if the 2012-13 will fall to cancellation, it’s just a matter of when. The NHL as of this date could hypothetically come to an agreement tomorrow and still have an altered schedule of 65 to 72 games if they really wanted to settle this lockout. However, it is becoming more convincing with each waining moment that the situation with the CBA has gotten so bad, and so far off of the course of reason, that I cannot see how any portion of a season can still be played with any level of credibility. The reason for this is because there is simply no will, albeit financially or even politically for either side to settle this impasse. Both sides say they are talking one day, and then not talking the next day. This has been going on since the start of the season was struck down in early October. I would say to this “Wake me up when you settle this thing.”, except that to do so would make me “Rip Van Winkle”.

The problem in part is that you have two men leading the negotiating on both sides of the table in Commissioner Bettman, and NHLPA head Donald Fehr. Both men are as stubborn as the night is long (it’s no longer daylight savings time). Both have ego’s that are far bigger than the very building they are occupying while they are having their so called “negotiations.” There are countries in the civilized world who are almost arch enemies that have negotiated arms treaties faster than these two bags of bolts and hot air can negotiate a new CBA. The simple proof of that is not only this lockout, but all of the time wasted when all sides knew September 15th, 2012 would eventually get here and it would be wise to get talks going well in advance of that date, as in before the start of the 2011-12 season. If either of these two were your mortgage broker trying to negotiate a lower percentage rate on your mortgage, you would be lucky to be living in a tent. If Bettman or Fehr were playing the board game Monopoly, it would be the longest Monopoly game on record as these two would take months just do decide who passed go to collect $200, and who would have the rights to The Boardwalk, Park Place, and even Baltic Avenue and it’s $4 rent (before houses, hotels, etc.). The point here is that it just seems that this has become an a battle of two stubborn men who are more interested in seeing who can win a game of chicken as opposed to settling a matter that has damaged and further endangers a professional sports league that has been around for generations. The damage is not only to the league, but also to the league’s reputation as sponsors will now think twice before advertising their brand along with the NHL in future seasons.

The real tragedy in all of this is that the sitting commissioner is just allowing for all of this to happen. A season that should have begun six weeks ago may not even happen now. It is the job of the this commissioner, and every commissioner in every professional sport to oversee the game and do all he or she can to promote the sport and do so with good will. The commissioner is also responsible in maintaining that their sports league plays with and has absolute integrity throughout. This lockout has done much to damage integrity that had been barely restored after the loss of the 2004-05 due to the last lockout. Even if this lockout does get settled and there is some semblance of a season that starts even after the new year, much damage has again been done to the NHL shield and branding. Sponsors will frown on this and will likely withdraw advertising from the league for at least what is left of this season if anything, and additionally will have to reconsider future sponsorships with the league. The reason the NBA did not take a hit when they locked out a year ago is because they are massively more popular in the states, where hockey was still recovering from 2004-05. With this lockout, everything from beer sponsors to automotive sponsors will likely pull out of advertising with the NHL for at least for awhile.

All the while Commissioner Bettman who already has three previous lockouts on his watch just allowed for all of this to happen. The league continues to take hits as players have had to chose between playing overseas, playing in the minors or even finding other things to do that in some cases are not even hockey related. Some players who have gone to the KHL have suggested that they are considering staying there, and they could very well do that. Ultimately, the buck stops at The Commissioner’s Desk. If you are the Commissioner, then this is your responsibility. If you can’t handle the responsibility that comes with this office, then please resign. Please allow for someone who has more of a hockey pedigree take over, and get the hell out of the way already. This isn’t rocket science, just find a way to co-exist peacefully and do your jobs. Get a CBA done or get out of the way. Instead, with Gary Bettman you have a Commissioner who like Nero, is fiddling away while the NHL is burning down. It’s his way or no way. Now granted, about eight owners or more are just as responsible and probably are pulling Bettman’s strings. If that is true, then Bettman is a weak Commissioner and should resign immediately. His stewardship is become more of a running joke with each passing day that this lockout continues. Most if not all fans and even players now don’t want to hear about “talks resuming”. If they are not moving to get the league back on the ice, truthfully who cares? Talks at this point without results are pointless. I no longer want to here about the talks, I prefer results which right now simply are not happening.

NHL Season In Real Jeopardy- Right now, the odds of actually having an NHL season are slim and none, and “Slim” is waiting for the next train to arrive. Once that train departs the station, “Slim” is gone and with it so is the 2012-13 season. At the rate the negotiations are going, my own conclusion is simply that if Bettman and Fehr were truly serious about getting the game back on the ice, the lockout never would have dragged out to this point. It is not my wish to be a pessimist and I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong here, however right now I have to predict that there will be no season this year in the NHL. What’s even more worrisome here is that if the season does get cancelled, there may be no rush to get an agreement hammered out for 2013-14. The reason for my prediction is because that I see not only no movement towards a settlement, but also no concerted effort to bring about a settlement to the table from either side. The two sides are simply too far apart on a number of key issues and the motivation to get these problems settled simply does not exist. If it’s there somewhere, I’m just not seeing it. It appears if a number of fans are also not seeing it. A number of players aren’t holding their breath here either, and they shouldn’t be. The worst part about all of this is that the two people who sit across from each other at the negotiating table are the two that somehow we are supposed to believe are two strong businessmen. Is the lockout a show of strength? No, it’s not. If anything it’s the ultimate show of weakness featuring the weakest Commissioner in the history of professional sports. As the old saying goes, “Good Luck with that.” Indeed.

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Ryane Clowe signs with San Francisco Bulls- Ryane Clowe signed a contract to play for the Sharks ECHL affiliate San Francisco Bulls. Terms of the contract were not made available however it seems Clowe will actually play more of a roll behind the Bulls bench while he awaits the NHL lockout to come to an end. “We’re excited to have a player of Ryane’s caliber join the team,” Bulls  President and head coach Pat Curcio said. “We look forward to having him around the locker room as he gets back into game shape. The rest of the players on the team will have a  chance to learn from his work ethic.”** Clowe would have been in the final year of a four year deal with the Sharks. Clowe joins Theo Peckham as the second NHL player to join the Bulls. Peckham most recently played for the Edmonton Oilers before the lockout. Clowe has been a stalwart player for the Sharks, averaging 45 points per season over the past four seasons for team teal.

In other Bulls news, the Bulls signed defenseman Sean Whitney off waivers from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Whitney is the younger brother of the Edmonton Oilers Ryan Whitney. The newest Bulls addition had a decent collegiate career while playing at Cornell University scoring seven goals while adding 23 assist in 101 games played. The Bulls also traded Kelsey Wilson to the Trenton Titans for future considerations.

In their game last Friday against the Stockton Thunder, World Champion Giants’ Relief Pitcher Sergio Romo dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Bulls took the Thunder 4-1 at the Cow Palace. Two nights later, former Shark Devin Setoguchi returned to the Bay Area as a member of the Ontario Reign. Ontario routed the Bulls 7-0. Setoguchi, who was acquired by the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2011 as part of the Brent Burns trade to the Sharks, signed with the Reign to play this season there baring a settlement to the NHL lockout.  The Bulls will continue their home stand Friday Night as they take on the Idaho Steelheads. On Saturday Night, the Bulls will host Utah Grizzlies.

Jessica Redfield Foundation- This foundation which was founded shorty after the horrible and untimely passing of Jessica “Redfield” Gawhi this past July has done a very good job at rasing funds for the Official Jessica Redfield Sports Journalism Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund has been set up to allow those who have the same dreams that Jessica Gawhi had to continue their studies as sports journalist to date has collected $54,391. The fund, managed by her brother Jordan Gawhi and Peter Burns, who is a sports radio host in the Denver area is set to expire in it’s current fund raising efforts a week from today (November 20th). If you are able to, please donate whatever you can to this fund. Even it it’s a dollar, five dollars, twenty dollars, whatever amount it would be greatly appreciated and helpful. If you want more information please go to the website at http://www.indiegogo.com/OfficialJessicaRedfieldFund, and follow on Twitter at @JRGFoundation…thanks…

…Just My Two Cents…

 

The King Shark

 

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The Jessica Redfield Ghawi Foundation:

http://www.indiegogo.com/OfficialJessicaRedfieldFund

Stand Up 2 Cancer:

http://www.standup2cancer.org/

Mercury One Disaster Relief Fund (for victims of Hurricane “Sandy”):

http://fundly.com/mercury-one-disaster-relief-fund

 

**Source: SF Gate Sports:

http://www.sfgate.com/sharks/article/Sharks-Ryane-Clowe-signs-with-Bulls-4014655.php