Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about the latest news from the ice.
Custance joined ESPN in September 2011 as an NHL reporter for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Insider and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN following a stint with the Sporting News. A graduate of Michigan State University, he lived for nearly a decade in Georgia working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he spent time covering the late Atlanta Thrashers.
Send your questions now and join Custance Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (1:01 PM)
Hey everyone! No hockey yet but plenty to talk about in the world of hockey. Let's dive in!
WHAT A WILD AND JUST PLAIN WRONG ENDING TO THE MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME!!!!! THEY NEED TO SETTLE THIS STRIKE!!!! (GO MSU!!)
Craig Custance (1:01 PM)
In your opinion, what percentage of NHL fans like fights? I can understand the OHL trying to limit the number of fights players get, since they're essentially teenagers. Why on earth would the NHL want to curb fighting, more than it already has? The speed of the game has already eliminated the goon from the game. That said, have you ever heard booing during a fight?
Craig Custance (1:04 PM)
Rush - I think it would be fair to say that a majority of hockey fans like fights. There's no doubt it's electric in an arena when the gloves are dropped. To me, it's an issue of safety. Concussions are already an issue that the league is trying to deal with, so it seems contradictory to that goal to allow players to freely punch each other in the head. Proponents would argue that the presence of fighting removes cheap shots and makes the game safer. Ultimately, I think it will phase itself out of the NHL.
Do you think "big market" owners, Rangers, Hawks, Philly will ever go for revenue sharing when its not in their own best interests? What alternatives are there really?
Craig Custance (1:06 PM)
There already is a form of revenue sharing and the NHLPA really wants to amp it up. I think there is resistance among the big market teams to bolster revenue sharing but I'm also in the camp that it's needed for survival. The question being debated now is - who should pay for more revenue sharing? The players or owners?
viewfrom123.com (Lowell, MA)
What happens if a players gets injured overseas during the lockout?
Craig Custance (1:08 PM)
View - One of the reasons some players haven't jumped overseas is that insurance to cover their NHL contracts can be wildly expensive. Players have to get their own insurance to compete in Europe and for some it's not worth the risk of getting injured. It'll be interesting to see how long players like Sidney Crosby and others wait things out.
Joey No-No (LA LA LAND)
Greetings Mr. C! How do you see the KINGS handling J Bernier this season (assuming there is one)? My thought process was with Quick on the mend from back surgery, the KINGS would have given Bernier some showcase time...but if there is a delay of the start of the season and Quick is 100% by the time the season starts, I cannot see the KINGS starting Bernier very much and therefore decreasing his trade value.
Craig Custance (1:10 PM)
There's no rush for Dean Lombardi to move Bernier right now. His trade value would certainly be aided if he played a lot and did well but I don't think it's hurt if he's backing up Quick again. He's a great kid who many scouts really like and at some point a team that needs goaltending will pull the trigger. But there's no motivation for the Kings to do it too soon unless the offer is really good. Right now he's a cheap insurance policy for Quick.
Paul (Los Angeles)
What can the fans really do, if anything, that might cause the NHL and NHLPA to get the negotiations moving and settle the lockout.
Craig Custance (1:12 PM)
I hate to say it, but nothing. There are numerous petitions out there and social media has given fans a podium to have their voices heard. Best I can tell, the impact has been negligible.
Daniel (Miami, FL)
Not a lockout related question, but if the Panthers trade for Roberto Luongo, which goalie would be sent to Vancouver?
Craig Custance (1:14 PM)
Thanks Daniel! Love non-lockout questions. Scott Clemmensen is an ideal backup but both him and Theodore are earning similar salaries (1.5, 1.2) and I would think the fact that Theodore comes off the books after this season would be attractive for Vancouver.
Rob Monteleone (Long Island)
How does Bettman reconcile his owners giving out huge contracts this summer up until 9/15, and then cry poor mouth?
Craig Custance (1:16 PM)
I don't have an answer for that Rob. The optics on those deals the final hours before the lockout weren't good and I know some general managers wondered why they were even being made at all. What did a team like Edmonton gain by signing Eberle and Hall to those deals now? They certainly weren't getting a discount. To me, it's hard to say that the current system isn't working - meanwhile, your owners are scurrying to sign players under the current system.
Paul (San Francisco)
The NHL and NHLPA like to say how incomparable their sport is to the NHL, NBA, or MLB. I agree with them, but could a big reason for that be the fact that they have work stoppages every 5-7 years?
Craig Custance (1:18 PM)
Paul - I couldn't agree more. How do you expect to grow your sport when you have constant work stoppages? Every time the NHL gains any momentum among casual sports fans in the US, it shoots itself in the foot. It's mind-boggling to me.
Devilishly, the lockout should help the Rangers since Gaborik is getting healthy and he may start the season (whenever that is) with Nash and Richards in an awesome line.
Craig Custance (1:19 PM)
It's a fine line though Mitch. If we lose an entire season, that hurts the Rangers more than other teams. Richards, Nash and Gaborik aren't getting any younger and that team is poised to win right now. I'd argue that the prime age for an NHL forward is 24. Every year those three move away from that number doesn't bode well for NY.
Why is everyone focused on the 'record revenue' of the NHL? Why can't we look at profitability? A friend's dad once told us "It doesn't matter if you make more, if you end up spending more."Also, why should the players think the owners should just implement revenue sharing but they don't want to give any revenue back? Seems slightly one-sided to me.
Craig Custance (1:21 PM)
That's the argument the NHL is making. Costs have gone up (although the jet fuel and massage argument might not be the best example) and I don't doubt that for a second. I think the players are willing to decrease their share of revenue, especially if it means more revenue sharing. It's just finding a number that works for both sides.
Gary B (NHL HQ)
Nope, you're all having too much fun.I'm locking this chat
How much player movement do you think will happen once the lockout is ended? Can the Wings still make some moves to improve their back end?
Craig Custance (1:23 PM)
It will completely hinge on what the new salary cap is and what transition rules are in place to help teams stay under the cap. If the new cap is $60 million, then some good players will have to be moved to help get teams under the cap. Detroit is one of the teams in position to take advantage of post-CBA player movement. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Ken Holland swings a move for a defenseman before the season starts. Whenever that will be.
Craig, Which of the owners are preventing a deal from getting done? Feel free to name, names now. Something tells me that the moderate owners really have no voice in negotiations. Am I right?
Craig Custance (1:25 PM)
The hope of the players right now is that there is more of a divide among the owners than we're hearing right now. But as we saw with Jimmy D, you pay a serious price for talking about any of it publicly.
craig (so cal)
Let's talk some hockey given that one day it will be played. What do you think about what the Ducks did in the off-season? I am not thrilled about the Souray deal and still think they need some defensive help. Your thoughts?
Craig Custance (1:29 PM)
I thought most of the moves made in Anaheim this summer were pretty low risk, besides Souray (like Winnik, Allen). The biggest factor for the Ducks success is the fact that they now have a full year of Bruce Boudreau, which is a positive. And Jonas Hiller is healthy. There's a reason that Anaheim was one of the NHL's best teams during the second half once Hiller got going. Cam Fowler needs to take a step forward to ease your concerns on defense and I like some of the young forwards coming in Anaheim.
Craig, safe to say that the rest of the pre-season schedule will be cancelled soon given that talks won't resume until 9/28 (and, according to Pierre L, Friday's talks will focus on "non-core economic" issues)??
Craig Custance (1:30 PM)
Yeah, I think it's safe to anticipate the rest of the exhibition season being wiped out here soon.
Cat XThrasher (Atlanta, GA)
At least the Jets don't get hockey!!! :)
Craig Custance (1:30 PM)
Still some bitterness coming from Atlanta.
Paul (Los Angeles)
Hi Craig...the Kings avoided any truly significant injuries during the regular season and postseason last year. Will it take another relatively injury free year for the Kings to repeat, advance far in the playoffs, or improve significantly on last year's regualr season performance?
Craig Custance (1:32 PM)
Paul - I think it's almost impossible to repeat in the NHL. There's so much parity, everything has to bounce your way. The Kings are constructed to contend for a very long time, I love what they've done there. But you could have said the same thing for Pittsburgh and even Chicago with its core of Toews and Kane. It's tough to climb back up that mountain right after you've won it all.
Hey now! Who do you see as Boston's biggest threat in the division? Sens or Sabres?
Craig Custance (1:34 PM)
Tough one. Love what the Sens did last year, but might be tough to replicate. I'd go with the Sabres. Once Ryan Miller's head cleared up from the concussion, they were really good. They added toughness in the offseason. I actually liked what Montreal did this summer. They might be a year away but the Canadiens will be back in the mix too.
Craig, Sorry but the 2004 lockout really upset me but this one is downright shameful. I am officially removing the "diehard" tag from myself and will now be a casual observer who refuses to spend money on the game. If they won't show consideration for their fans then there is no way I am going to support them. Give and take, right?
Craig Custance (1:35 PM)
JD - Fair enough. I think both sides are underestimating how many fans like you there are out there.
Ham (Columbus, OH)
Die-Hard CBJ fan here (yeah, we exist). I was really looking forward to our team this season. Sure, we're going to be terrible again but at least we'll look vastly different in the process. I was also really looking forward to the All-Star Game. At what point will the All-Star Game be canceled?
Craig Custance (1:37 PM)
If this lockout lingers, I'd expect news on the All-Star game in mid-November.
Joey (New York)
I'm huge Martin Brodeur fan and really wish I could see him play this year. Do you see him going to Europe to finish his career?
Craig Custance (1:38 PM)
Joey - That would be a real shame, wouldn't it? One of the best goalies of all time shouldn't have to do that. Martin told colleague Pierre LeBrun that he was going to wait into October to make a decision on playing in Europe but said he would do it if this thing lingered into November.
Mike (The Peg)
What was that Thrashers fans? Us Winnipegers can't hear you. Too much noise from Jets games.
Craig Custance (1:39 PM)
What do you make of Tim Thomas taking "a year off"?
Craig Custance (1:40 PM)
I'm still fascinated by that decision, one that's been overshadowed. Tim certainly is a player who thinks for himself and if he wasn't feeling motivated to keep playing, he wasn't going to do it. I have a ton of respect for him and he's always been one of my favorite players to deal with. I think the league is definitely poorer without him around, even if you don't agree with some of his politics.
Do you think Jeremy Roenick will get inducted into the HHOF one day?
Craig Custance (1:42 PM)
Well, I thought Brendan Shanahan was a slam dunk first-ballot HOFer, so you might want to take my opinion with a grain of salt. JR is hurt by his lack of a Stanley Cup but I think he ultimately gets in when you consider his impact on the game in the United States. He as an important part of that group of American players (Leetch, Modano, Chelios) who helped take the game to new heights in the U.S. It may take awhile, but I think he deserves a spot.
Brian (St. Louis home of a Future KHL team)
the NHL are complete idiots. The KHL is on the grind and if they were smart they would steal the North America Market.
Craig Custance (1:43 PM)
Now that would be interesting.
Ham (Columbus, OH )
Craig, I listened to a podcast by some of the local beat writers for the Columbus Blue Jackets where they said players like Jack Johnson and Wisniewski sort of just took over the team as default captains after the trade deadline passed and everyone knew Rick Nash was a lame duck. From the 1st of March to the end of the season, the CBJ won 11 of their final 19 games (nearly 1/4 of the season). If you believe in things like chemistry and team leadership, wouldn't you say it's possible they might not finish next season as the worst team in the league?
Craig Custance (1:46 PM)
I was in Columbus shortly after the Jack Johnson trade and was really impressed with how much Jack wanted to be there. It was the exact opposite reaction that the Blue Jackets got from Jeff Carter. That's important. I think there's a good, young defense forming in Columbus but have concerns up front and with goaltending. Not sure Bob and Mason are the answer in goal. But yeah, if your hopes are that they aren't the worst team in the league, I think you may be okay.
Del (Dawg) (Kansas City)
How many players do you think are going to Stay in Europe via KHL and other good leagues after the lock is over? Also what the cost/benifit loss the NHL is going to incur from the lockout due to oversea play when the lock out is done.
Craig Custance (1:47 PM)
Del (Dawg) - There might be a couple minor exceptions but I expect all the major players in Europe now to return to the NHL once the lockout is over.
BK (New Jersey...)
Gut feeling: When do you think the season will begin? (If at all?)
Craig Custance (1:49 PM)
BK - I'm on record as saying the season will begin January 1. That's my prediction. But as a GM told me earlier this week, anyone who tells you they know for sure when this will end is full of it.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I'm fine with Seattle getting a team, but not if it means expansion. The league doesn't need more teams, it needs less.
Craig Custance (1:51 PM)
I think there's a team in Seattle within five years. Interesting to see Edmonton use that market as leverage but I still believe expansion is more likely than relocation. Not saying it's right for the health of the league but there's a big payday that comes with expansion. Might be more than they can pass up.
Paul (Los Angeles)
Aside from Brodeur (already mentioned), what players are we at risk of possibly never again seeing in the NHL if the league and PA give us a repeat of 2004-05?
Craig Custance (1:52 PM)
That list would start with Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne. I'm sure there would be others but I'd hate to see Selanne's outstanding career ended with a lockout. He deserves much better.
matt Florida [via mobile]
I used to be a big hockey fan prior to the last lockout since then I lost my desire to watch. Do they realize how many fans they're losing from another lockout?
Craig Custance (1:52 PM)
I don't believe they do. It's too bad.
How are the caps rated 14th in the power rankings? They've become a perennial contender, especially in the Southeast division which they're expected to win back from Florida (how did that happen...) this year (if there is one). Players seem optimistic with Oates heading things up and he has a strong resume to support GMGM's decision to hire him.(Sidenote: Will next week's power rankings be based on performance in KHL?)
Craig Custance (1:54 PM)
Galen - Haha, not sure when the power rankings will be done next. Not throwing Scotty under the bus, just noting that Burnside wrote the power rankings this week. You'll have to ask him for any explanations. That said, I did tell him yesterday that I wanted to spend an entire podcast debating his rankings. We have a difference of a opinion on a few of the teams. But that's why those are fun.
Walt (Los Angeles)
More a rant than a question: I'm not on either side of this lockout...I'm a fan of the GAME and just want it settled ASAP so the players can get back to playing and we can get back to watching/enjoying. I can understand the point that's been made about the league taking us "die-hards" for granted (i.e. we'll be back regardless...for those like me, absolutely correct); and, I can also understand that many other fans have the "I'm done, this is ridiculous" mind-set. But really, how can that be? If you enjoy something, I can't for the life of me understand why you would shun it because of something like this. Revenue splits, owners v. players, whatever...NONE of that takes away from the game, what it is and the enjoyment that a fan of hockey should get while watching the game/rooting for his/her team. Loyalties aren't to players or owners...they should be to teams. And WHEN play resumes, it'll be the same players on the same teams playing the same game, just as before the lockout.It's a business, just like anything else. Understand that, get over it, and if you're a fan (casual or serious), get over yourself and come back harder to spite all this nonsense.And I'm a tremendous Kings fan...I should be the angriest of anybody right now.
Craig Custance (1:55 PM)
Do you feel a little better getting that off your chest Walt?
Other than the salary cap, is there really any difference from the last lockout? Seems to me the players will lose no matter what. Might as well relent now before games get cancelled and that precious HRR they are fighting over will get smaller and smaller by the day.
Craig Custance (1:56 PM)
Bill - The thing is, we don't know who win or loses a CBA until years later. We all thought the owners crushed the players last time, and yet here we are again and the owners don't like the current system. But yeah, it does look like the players will have to make a bulk of the concessions again.
bobby nj [via mobile]
big rangers fan what is the status of michael sauer n do u c the rangers making a deal for a d men
Craig Custance (1:58 PM)
Bobby - He's still dealing with effects from his concussion. They definitely can use depth on defense. How much they address that will depend on where the cap is at when this thing settles.
Craig, no more lockout talk, makes me sick. So "this year" seems to be an interesting year for Anaheim, and especially Bob Murray. He has a contract year from the twins, a full year under big Bruce, and an off season that saw some, for lack of a better word, interesting pick ups. What happens if Souray doesn't work out? What happens if Getzy doesn't put it together? Murray seems to be a cross roads with a team without an identity. Is this a career year for the man at the helm, or do you think his combo of big names, future HOF, and young guns will turn things around and bail him out? I am inclined to lean towards a dark horse team in Anaheim rather than another flop, but I am a Ducks Fan, what do you think?
Craig Custance (2:00 PM)
Paddy - I like the young talent coming with the Ducks and appreciate your point with Getzlaf. He needs to be much, much better this season if they're going to be a playoff team. But as long as Hiller is healthy and playing well, they're in the mix for a playoff spot.
Craig Custance (2:01 PM)
Alright everyone - great questions as always. Thanks for joining in. See you next week!