Nov 24, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose State Spartans quarterback David Fales (10) during the first half against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-US PRESSWIRE

My Two Cents: U.S. Federal Mediators Last Hope To Save Season; Players Becoming Critical Of Lockout

My Two Cents for November 27th:

Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Feds To Step In- Now with all NHL games cancelled thru December 14th, and after 72 days of failed negotiations aimed at ending the current NHL Lockout, the league has turned to U.S. Federal Mediators in the hopes that they can impart some ideas that can bring both the owners and NHLPA together in time to salvage a decent but truncated NHL 2012-13 season. If you are wondering if this has been tried once before, the answer is “yes. When? In 2004-05. The same year that no CBA could be reached, and with Commissioner Gary Bettman calling off the season in February 2005. Will the results be different here? That right now is not known, however with the sides $182 Million apart and neither side willing to compromise on so much as a split of that pot, it seems the last and final step to prevent a shut down of the NHL for this season is being taken. If the Federal Mediators have no success here, the 2012-13 is almost certainly gone and with no guarantees for 2013-14. If you are keeping score at home, Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are your Federal Mediators. Should there be a NHL season of even let’s say 48 to 52 games, send your “Thank You” cards to them. If they can’t help Commissioner Bettman, the Owners and the NHLPA to see the light and look past their overblown egos, don’t blame them. All they can do is try. They are Federal Mediators, not miracle workers. The problem here is that whatever the mediators decide is best will merely be a suggestion as neither side will be bound to their ideas. These meetings will be held Wednesday (11/28) with the mediators meeting with the Owners and NHLPA separately.

Plan For Worst Case Scenario- What this means for you season ticket holders who have held onto your seats in the hopes that their will be some or all of a season salvaged, be ready to either call your teams ticket office either for a full refund on a cancelled season, or see about just refunds for contest that won’t be played because of game cancellations. For the rest of us fans it’s just wait and see, there really is nothing else for us to do at this point. We have been patient, and many have gone out and supported minor league teams, junior teams or NCAA teams where available. These teams are at least playing and will get a full season in. Baring that neither mediator Beckenbaugh and/or Sweeney are short of something close to miracle workers, NHL Hockey will simply not be played this year and we need to all be ready for that announcement should it come to pass. If a season cancellation does come to pass, again do not express any anger or upset with your local teams ticket office about the lockout or tell them you wont buy tickets ever again. They did not ask for this situation and did not want this lockout anymore than you did. Odds are, your teams owner may not have wanted the lockout either as they are losing big money over the loss of a season. This will not be fun or pleasant for anyone.

Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Sharks Did Not Want Lockout- Keep in mind that if you are a Sharks fan the good news is that the owners of this team have been one of over 20 that have not been in favor of the lockout. For a lockout to happen, sadly the process is set up in such a way that only eight of the owners had to sign off on it. Sadly, eight of them did and the rest is history. This is not just about Commissioner Bettman, however this Commissioner has allowed himself to be overrun by these owners. Because of Bettman they have made massive profits over the last 20 year. Despite this Bettman has allowed himself to become somehow in debited to these owners. This is the only really good reason Bettman is even in the Commissioners’ seat to begin with. Bettman has no business being the NHL Commissioner otherwise and may have no use for him. This has allowed the balance of power within the NHL to be manipulated by a vast minority instead of a majority. If a lockout actually required a 67% to 75% majority of owners to sign off on it, this lockout nor the lockout in 2004-05 would have ever happened. Who knows, when you consider what type of team the Sharks had back in 2003-04, team teal quite possibly could have missed a better than decent shot at a Stanley Cup because of this. Though that’s a possibility, it will never be known.

Players Reacting- The long and drawn-out stalemate between the Owners and the NHLPA has started to draw some stark criticism from players, some of whom had to move overseas this year to play professional hockey. Alexander Ovetchkin, who is playing in the KHL for Dynamo MSK told TSN that he was starting to wonder why the Owners signed him and others to large contracts only to try to have them cut down later on. “I think it’s stupid to sign players to long contracts only to cut them later” Ovetchkin told TSN.** Ovetchkin’s NHL rival, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins also weighed in telling TSN “I think a lot of the guys are frustrated with just the not talking.” Crosby continued, “We understand the business side – that there’s negotiations and proposals going back and forth…but I think the whole process is just frustrating.”** Crosby, unlike Ovetchkin, has been idle since the lockout began September 15th. Other players that have been forced overseas to “earn a living” include the Sharks Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, TJ Galiardi, Antti Niemi, Tommy Wingles, Jason Demers, Douglas Murray and Michal Handzus. The chances of seeing them at the Shark Tank this season are simply withering away with each passing day.

Last week the Detroit Red Wings’ (and former Shark) Ian White came out with heavy criticism of the way Commissioner Bettman has handled this situation. Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland recently apologized for a retweet from a fan who wished ill towards the league Commissioner. Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg recent called Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly “Cancers” to the NHL. As for the fans, one Philadelphia Flyers fan last week tried to confront Commissioner Bettman outside of an office building where talks were being held, as Bettman was giving a press briefing. Players much as the fans are growing restless with an ongoing situation which is causing even the most loyal customers of the league to lose both confidence and even interest in the further damaged NHL shield. The US Federal Mediators have quite the job ahead of them. The tasks before them can be best described as “The Labors of Hercules.” In addition to amazing strength, it will also require even more amazing patience as well. Good Luck Mediators, You’ll need it!

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Is Decertification An Option Here?- There has been recent talk kicking around the idea of the NHLPA players union possibly decertifying in the wake of the lockout. When considering the pros and cons of decertification, there are things that must be considered before such an action is taken. First, the pros of decertification. If the players decided to go ahead and push forward to decertify the NHLPA, this will allow each and every one of them to negotiate their own deals, effectively dissolving the players union. The players would enjoy the freedom of in effect being their own entity and could represent themselves in any negotiation. In effect, this means the NHL players revoking the NHLPA’s authority to bargain on their behalf and effectively puts and end to the Union as it would not longer exist. Now, if the players did decertify, they would be able to file an anti-turst suit to have the lockout declared unlawful and demand it be immediately lifted. That’s something that a majority of owners or even season ticket holder cannot do.

However, the NHL Owners would not be a huge fan of this idea and definitely would not be on board. This would blow up the chances of a CBA being reached and also open the owners to possible anti-trust suits, which if that happened would likely crash the NHL and possibly spell the end for at least a few franchises. Think of a CBA as what is in effect what protects the NHL and it’s owners from anti-trust suits. This is not only true for the NHL, but also for pro sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. In the NHL, you have 30 teams that compete equally within the guidelines of the league, and are supposed to be on equal competitive footings. Obviously, even with a salary cap you will always see teams such as the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars and a few others outbid other teams for free agents. However, what keeps things from becoming completely unraveled is a CBA. Though many NHL owners did not want the lockout, the small minority of owners who wanted not to operate without a CBA along with Commissioner Bettman had the final say on this, like it or not. Hence without a CBA, their will be no NHL now or anytime soon.

These owners who voted for the lockout have no problem with losing a seasons worth of revenue to cover their own backsides. As they have proved in what should have been the 2004-05 season, they did it once and they have absolutely no problem with doing it again in 2012-13 and many times over. These owners are not stupid. As a matter of fact, they know precisely what they are doing as does Commissioner Bettman. Do these owners care about the fans? Only to a certain extent, and they do openly take the fans for granted. From these owner’s perspectives, “…if you don’t like it, go watch the NBA. They’re are more of you (the fan) then where you came from.” That’s sad, but that’s the truth and reality of most sports owners. Where I am based in San Diego, a team President Dean Spanos made an unpopular decision in January 2012 to retain a besieged Head Coach and virtually incompetent General Manager with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. He told those fans who did not agree with these moves in a radio interview (very nicely) that they were free to turn in their season tickets and never come back. The team has continued to flounder and will for the foreseeable future. Ticket sales just like the team have crashed and burned beyond repair, and local blackouts are becoming more prevalent. The point here is that the eight owners who made this lockout possible in the NHL operate in much of the same mode. That’s why the lockout has dragged on. The fans by and large simply do not matter to them one iota. These are just eight owners that have in effect brought down the league along with a Commissioner who is in total cahoots.

All of this said, we all hope that this lockout somehow will be settled and end more sooner than later. Obviously this will when it’s all said and done change the NHL as we once knew it, and that’s after the 2004-05 season was lost. It will take a heckuva lot more than just scripting “Thank You Fans” above the blue lines. The apologies will come from several teams and team owners who did not want this lockout to ever happen. However, if you are a fan of one of the eight owners who voted for the lockout, don’t look for an apology. Just look to see how much tickets are going to go up to cover the monetary losses these owners “suffered”.


Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Down On The Farm- Enough of the lockout mumbo jumbo, let’s focus our attention now to teams who are playing. The San Francisco Bulls this past weekend won two games, defeating the Ontario Reign and NoCal rival the Stockton Thunder on back to back nights at the Cow Palace. In their 5-1 win over Ontario this past Friday night, Marek Viedensky scored two goals and added two assist for the Bulls. Meanwhile Bulls Goalie Thomas Heemskerk was huge in the net as he turned aside 28 of the Reign’s shots on goal. Alex Tuckerman, Peter Sivak, and Dean Ouellet also found the back of the net for the Sharks ECHL affiliate. The following evening the Bulls handled the visiting Thunder 6-3 as Ouellet tallied the first hat trick in team history. Sivak, Andrew Crescenzi, and Jordan Morrison added goals for the Bulls. Heemskerk had another busy night between the pipes making 34 saves.

Meanwhile in Worcester, Mass. the Sharks AHL affiliate has a record of 9-7-2 thru 18 games and sits in second place in the league’s Atlantic Division. On Friday, the Sharks took care of the LA Kings AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs 4-3 winning the game in overtime. Freddie Hamilton scored the game winning goal for the Sharks in the extra frame. Tim Kennedy, Curt Gogol, and team Captain John McCarty all scored for the Sharks. Goalie Harri Sateri turned away 27 Manchester shots on goal. The Sharks followed up this effort with a 5-1 victory over the Portland (Maine) Pirates 5-1 on Saturday Night. Brodie Reid, Danny Groulx, Curt Gogol, and Yanni Gourde all tallied for the Sharks as the game also featured it fair share of fisticuffs. Gogol, Frazer McLaren , Jimmy Bonneau, Sena Acolatse, and Brandon Mashinter all picked up fighting majors in the contest. On Sunday, all of that fighting may have taken it’s toll on the Sharks who just 24 hour later dropped a 6-1 decision to the Syracuse Cruch. Former Florida Panther Bracken Kearns scored the only goal for Worcester in this contest Sunday.

Non-Hockey Item: Congrats to the San Jose State Spartans Football Team- The San Jose State Spartans Saturday Night snapped a five game losing streak versus WAC conference rival Louisiana Tech, defeating the Bulldogs in a wild affair 52-43 in a game that was carried nationally on ESPN 2. David Fales passed for three touchdowns, going 25 for 37 with 367 total yards passing. Running-back De’Leon Eskridge rushed for 217 yards and scored his own “hat trick” three touchdowns. Noel Grigsby Jr gained 127 yards on seven receptions, and Bene Benwikere had two interceptions to end Louisiana Tech’s last two hopes to get back in the game late. The victory gives the Spartans their first 10 win season since 1987, when the Spartans also went 10-2. The Spartans also are ranked #25 in the BCS Standings, their first national ranking since they were ranked 20th, also in 1987. The Spartans will likely know their bowl destination soon. SJSU will be either going to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit (12/26) , the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. (12/27), or the The Music City Bowl in Nashville on New Years Eve (12/31). Wherever they go, they will have earned the right to play in that bowl game. As a fellow Spartans alum, I could not be prouder of one of the best teams to come out of the SJSU program. A Special Thanks also goes out to Head Coach Mike MacIntyre who has taken this program from the depths of the bottom to a program all of the Spartan Nation can be proud of. This exposure will benefit the program greatly as San Jose State moves to the Mountain West Conference for the 2013 season. Good Luck Spartans, and congratulations on a successful season that far exceeded any and all expectations.



…Just My Two Cents…


The King Shark


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