Chat with Pierre LeBrun
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com NHL writer Pierre LeBrun will stop by to chat about the latest news from around the NHL.
Based in Toronto, LeBrun joined ESPN in September 2008 after spending 13 years with The Canadian Press as its national hockey columnist. LeBrun was also a contributor to Rogers Sportsnet and a regular contributor to TSN in Canada.
Send your questions now and join LeBrun Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Pierre LeBrun (12:58 PM)
Greetings locked-out NHL fans. Let's chat labor law, er, hockey...
Is the Winter Classic really in serious jeopardy as Burnside seems to fear?
Pierre LeBrun (12:59 PM)
yes... my sources also indicate NHL could cancel Winter Classic in November if there's no CBA by then....
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Have you ever seen very Bad Calls by the NHL Officials Like you have seen in the NFL for the last 3 weeks?
Pierre LeBrun (12:59 PM)
I've seen bad calls by NHL refs, but nothing compared to what these NFL replacement refs are doing
Rick (San Diego, CA)
Hi Pierre, What effect will the lockout have on older players? I was really exited when the Ducks released the funny video of Teemu Selane deciding to make another year of it. Now I worry that the long layoff will change his mind. Thanks again for the great writing.
Pierre LeBrun (1:01 PM)
Certainly if the lockout wipes out the entire NHL season, there's a chance we've seen the last of a number of players, like Selanne... That happened eight years ago as well. a number of players didn't come back after the season-long lockout...Hopefully there's some semblance of a season this year so we can see Selanne play one more time
Everyone thinks they know how the lockout is going to end - the owners are going to wait out the players, who will start missing paychecks and eventually give in to the owners demands and revenue sharing ends up at around 50/50. Some say it will take a month, others a year or more, but either way that is how it is going to end. This is because the players have no leverage. There is no other North American league that will pay them anywhere close to what they make, and the KHL can only afford a handful of highly played players. My question is, can the players change that? Is there a way they can gain leverage on the owners - because if they can, I believe the lockout is over within a week.
Pierre LeBrun (1:04 PM)
Well, the lockout won't be over in a week. I wish, but it won't. You make some good points, but the owners suffer during a lockout as well, not just the players. Empty arenas hurt the pocket book on both sides. And I can tell you one thing: the team executives I've spoken with give me impression they're not nearly as militant about wanting to go all the way on this lockout. I think there are way more owners this time around that want to make a deal and salvage the season. I think that's a sentiment the players are counting on as their leverage...
To answer my own question, I believe the players can get leverage back. What the NHLPA needs to do is to start putting in motion a plan for a new league. Maybe even partner with the KHL. Find 4 non-NHL arenas in the Northeast (Brooklyn, East Rutherford, Quebec City, and Hamilton immediately come to mind) and start playing games ASAP. Essentially, build it to be an independent minor league owned partially by the NHLPA, but start the league with locked out NHLers. The moment the owners start feeling threatened that a new league could actually get a foot hold (and in another year without the NHL, that would not be a problem), they will soften their stance considerably. By marketing it as a minor league that is going to be around after the lockout, they should be able to get investors (heck, I'm sure some of the players would invest themselves). What do you think?
Pierre LeBrun (1:06 PM)
Don't see that happening but I like your ingenuity
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Pierre, which hurts more: The NHL in another lockout or the NFL losing its integrity due to replacement officials?
Pierre LeBrun (1:07 PM)
NHL lockout hurts more because the entire business is shut down, which is very damaging on all levels. NFL is the great league in the world and it will easily survive this once it's over.
Pierre-Word is that Sid is having a really tough time getting insurance to cover him overseas, would he join his old buddy Talbot's Quebec barnstorming tour?
Pierre LeBrun (1:08 PM)
Don't think so at this point
Tim Flynn (Phoenix, AZ)
Hi Pierre,What are your thoughts on this idea to end the lockout: The NHLPA, specifically the top 350 players, tell the NHL "F*** you, we're starting our own league." It's a simple concept, and it would work. 8 teams in Canada (all would sell out), 8 teams in the US (just find obvious, cold-weather markets first), and then expand later if possible. Make a list of arenas that are NOT owned by NHL clubs/owners, and go from there. This way, the players (and any players that enter the league) become shareholders and the new GHL (Global Hockey League) is an employee-owned enterprise. BOOM. Solved. Make Steve Yzerman the Commissioner, and watch the magic.
Pierre LeBrun (1:10 PM)
Imagine those CBA talks between the players and well, the players.... 50-50 revenue split ! hahaha
Chris Letterio (Oakville, On)
When do you think the NHL will come back? Not what do you hope, when do you actually think they will come back? Do you think we will lose a full year or more?
Pierre LeBrun (1:12 PM)
The next phase of bargaining talks _ which begin Friday _ will determine the script here. If those talks over the next week or so produce some traction, then maybe we salvage a season. But if the next phase of talks hit another wall, we could be looking at a long, long lockout... I'll stick with my original guess from 4 weeks ago: an agreement by late November
Dan (Hampton, VA)
If there are NHL franchises struggling mightily, even after all of this success since the previous lockout, why doesn't the NHL consider eliminating 2 teams? I know it would be the unpopular decision, but do you think this would help alleviate some of the demands of the NHL? The other option is to relocate two teams into potentially prosperous markets.
Pierre LeBrun (1:15 PM)
First of all, the NHLPA would never support getting rid of teams. That's job losses for the players. Re-location is always a possiblity... I still think whether it's re-location or expansion over the next decade, places like Toronto (2n team), Quebec City and Seattle could all get NHL teams
Kevin (Chicago, IL)
Pierre - Two non-lockout questions for you. (1) Nick Lidstrom's #5 - Will we see it next to Stevie Y's #19 in the rafters this year? (2) Regardless of what changes may occur once the lockout is over, it is clear some players for the Wings need to step up. Who do you think has a break out year? Does Hank or Pavel bring there game even higher or is it one of the younger Wings like Brendan Smith, Justin Abdelkader or Darren Helm?
Pierre LeBrun (1:16 PM)
Yes of course the Wings will raise No. 5 at some point over the next year or two.. that's a guarantee...Key young guy for me is Brendan Smith. Blue-line is thinner with Stuart and Nick gone... How much of an impact can Smith have? That's an important factor
Bill (Tampa, FL)
Aren't the NHLers who are playing overseas taking jobs, ice time and pay away from players in Europe? In a sense, hurting their own "brothers"?
Kevin (Erie, PA)
Pierre, What do you think of Pouliot and Maatta? Any chance they can make the team out of camp (whenever that is) and maybe get Paul Martin scratched and off the ice where he belongs?
Pierre LeBrun (1:19 PM)
Kevin, my sense is that it's unlikely either kid makes NHL team this year. Both are better served back in junior at this point... They are both terrific prospects there and I predict long NHL careers for both of them
Pierre LeBrun (1:20 PM)
Sorry didn't answer Bill's question below on NHLers going to Europe and taking jobs....I know from talking to players, it's certainly awkward. They don't feel great about it. But we live in a world that's the survival of the fittest and right now NHL players need to find work.... It's far from ideal, and I've got mixed feelings about it, but I can't condemn NHLers for going to Europe when all is said and done
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Pierre, not even the lockout is going to stop me from coming back for another chat season. I hope you and the wife and kids had a good summer rocking out to some Honeymoon Suite at the cabin in Hearst. Now when one of the NHL stars (Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Thornton, Nash, etc.) playing in Europe inevitably suffers a serious injury (torn ACL, separated shoulder)....how long do you think it will take that team's owner or GM to start pointing fingers saying he was the one guy that never wanted a lockout in the first place, that he never agreed to allow players to sign in Europe because this is what could happen, it is everyone else's fault for forcing players to go over there, etc. etc. Based on the hypocrisy of this whole situation...I am guessing about 1 minute.
Pierre LeBrun (1:24 PM)
I certainly hope none of them get hurt, that's for sure. One thing people should remember and I wrote this a few weeks ago, but one of the risks with playing in Europe during the lockout is that IF an NHLer gets injured playing there, and he's still injured when (if) the NHL lockout ends, his NHL team can suspend him without pay until he's fit to play again. HUGE risk. But that's why they get extra insurance of course to play over there _ to protect their NHL contracts
Jeremy Jacobs (Boston, MA)
Pierre, we all know one of the root causes of this labor impasse is player contracts are too long and guaranteed money is too high under the current system, especially for younger players coming off their entry deals. So something has to change! Wait...sorry...can you hold on a second...I got Chiarelli on the other line.....Ok Pete, so the ink is dry on Seguin's 6 year deal? What about Marchand...ok we are good there too? And Lucic...we got him in before it expired? Great!......Okay I am back...what was I talking about?....oh yeah...these contracts are out of control.
Pierre LeBrun (1:25 PM)
Mr. Jacobs, so great to hear from you? As chairman of the Board of Govenors you NEVER make yourself available to media when we cover board meetings...Oh wait, this isn't you....
Sean (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Despite the Katz visiting Seattle, do you see expansion happening in that market? If so when and can it work as only being a tenant? Doesn't feel they could generate enough revenue to profit beyond covering operating cost.
Pierre LeBrun (1:26 PM)
I love Seattle as a future NHL market. I've been on that bandwagon for a long, long time. Natural rivals for Vancouver just a few miles away... I predict an NHL team in Seattle within 10 years
Taylor Swift (Nashville, TN)
Pierre, we all know the lockout stinks. But can all these fans please stop with the "we are never ever ever....getting back together" talk about the NHL. If you feel the need to write that on an NHL chat or message board, you know you are a real fan and will watch again as soon as games start. That is what happened last time and will always happen...so please stop with the melodrama. Just suck it up while both sides hammer it out, do some fall fishing, go to a concert or two, play in some rec leagues...and then enjoy the games when we finally do have them.
Pierre LeBrun (1:29 PM)
I under your point (nice name by the way) but I will tell you this: as a league and as players, you can't expect to have a work stoppage every time your CBA expires and expects fans to come back in droves every single time. Personally I feel a higher level of anger out there among fans that I hear from compared to the 2004-05 lockout. It's anecdotal I know, but that's my impression right now
A few weeks ago a source leaked the league lost 240 million the past 2 years. Why would the salary cap go up each year if this is true? The salary cap being raised leads to larger contracts because the number of players under contract does not go up, just the total they can spend. Now the owners want the players to reduce their salaries to make up for this when it was not their fault the salary cap was raised. How can Bettman still be employed? Why does the NHL own the coyotes? They must be another reason why the NHL is losing money. Why not contract them and other teams that aren't making money in areas where people don't like hockey? This was ANOTHER mistake by Bettman, and now that those teams don't make money it's making the negotiations even tougher because those owners are sticking to points that benefit them. Finally, Bettman negotiated the last CBA for the owners which they "won" and now the owners think that deal was not good for them, so why do they still employ Bettman?
Pierre LeBrun (1:31 PM)
You've got a million questions but will answer the first one. Despite league-wide revenues growing from $2.1 billion in 2004 to $3.3 billion last year (which is why the cap went up every year), the league will tell you that the costs to run the industry, the costs for teams, also went up big time during that stretch. I have no clue if that's true or not, but that's what the league says in defending its desire to scale back player costs
Fred Cunningham (Calgary)
Do you find more anger or apathy about the lockout this time around, not many of my friends talking about hockey at all
Pierre LeBrun (1:32 PM)
well, I'm not a fan, I'm a journalist, so it's a different perspective I guess. I'm just bored more than anything else because it's like Groundhog Day. Same old rhetoric, same old spin from both sides...
Timmy G. (Clovis, CA)
Hey Pierre, I always appreciate these chats, even if there isn't hockey. Keep up the good work. So what kind of pills does Bill Daly take? They're still committed to not losing any regular season games, but they don't want to meet before Friday and only talk about issues they really pretty much already have established some sort of middle groung on? Mind-boggling. Though, I don't see the players stepping up at the moment and after seeing Daniel Cleary say this could take longer than a season, just infuriates me as a fan. Talk about sticking to your guns at the expense of your fanbase. I hate to say it, but this negotiation could use a little Dr. Phil time. It's borderline comical at this point with how these two sides are talking with so much optimism, but neither is willing to make due on it. I've been standing with the players in this, but they still have to negotiate further and can do so without giving up too much.
Pierre LeBrun (1:33 PM)
Well, to Daly's defense, it's the NHLPA's idea to resume bagaining talks focusing on non-ecnomic issues. If the league had its way. the players would have returned to the table with a new proposal but that's not happening...
maria continisiio (town of mont royal)
I always look forward to all your commentary on sports. i find you to be reliable and honest. I always wait for your comments with Mitch on TSN 690. My question is why aren't more sport journalists speaking on behalf of hockey fans concerning this lockout? why aren't you guys being more vocal? Why don't we have more great stars of the game, like Bobby Orr, who spoke out, taking a greater role on trying to bridge the gap between owners and the players? If more of these stars spoke it would put pressure to get this resolved. Thanks!
Pierre LeBrun (1:35 PM)
Thanks Maria for your comments, and thanks for being a loyal listener to Mitch's show on TSN 690 in Montreal. I'll be on there again tomorrow at 6:05 pm ETTo answer your question: I talk about the fans all the time in my radio hits, I mean, I just think they're totally being taken for granted. Just because fans came back in droves eight years ago doesn't mean the same thing will happen again. I really feel the league and the players are playing with fire when it comes to fan loyalty this time around... You are correct Maria
Marc (Malden, MA)
If you could make one change to the on-ice game, what would it be?
Pierre LeBrun (1:36 PM)
I would eliminate the shootout, extend overtime by adding a three-on-three, five-minute portion if game is still tied after first 4-on-4, five-minute OT. I'm tired of the shootout.
So where will Yakupov play while there is a lockout?
Pierre LeBrun (1:38 PM)
Well, the KHL if he has his way but given IIHF's announcement today, it looks like he won't be able to... If IIHF stands firm that he can't play in KHL, than the OHL's Sarnia Sting (who still own his junior rights) are his only option as far as I can tell
Do you think it's possible that either Datsyuk or Kulemin decide to stay in the KHL if the lockout lasts past December?
Pierre LeBrun (1:39 PM)
No players with a valid NHL contract will be allowed to stay in any other league they're currently playing in once the lockout is over. The KHL has a memo of understanding with the NHL that respects each other's player contracts when both leagues are operating.
Hi Pierre, I'm confused. NHL 13 is supposed to be the most realistic video game yet in the hockey franchise. But I can't seem to find the option in GM mode to lock out my players.
Pierre LeBrun (1:40 PM)
Hahahaha. Good one. This is how old I am: the last time I played EA Hockey videa game was NHL '94. Oye
Dave (Houghton Lake MI)
Who are the hard core owners that are pushing this lockout?
Pierre LeBrun (1:40 PM)
Well I would start with the name of JEREMY JACOBS.
Do you think the players "lose" even if the "win" I mean they basically are going to lose money to "win" so do you think they will really feel its worth it in the long run? Why do both sides have to "win" rather than just getting a "fair" deal and keep the game going.
Pierre LeBrun (1:41 PM)
One thing you hear from players is that the players before them years and years ago sacrificed for them. So now it's their turn to sacrifice for the players of tomorrow.
Do the players realize that the owners and the league are responsible for the increase in revenues to 3.3 from 2.2 in the last 6 years through Winter Classic and other marketing iniatives. They should be happy to be along for the ride.
Pierre LeBrun (1:42 PM)
I think both sides contribute to revenues soaring... I mean, you can't sell a ticket to an NHL game without players hitting the the ice and doing their thing, right?But you're right, the NHL's staff has done incredible work with Winter Classic and other events... no question about that
Marc (Malden, MA)
I think the players going overseas does give the NHLPA leverage. The guys who are going will basically make the same amount of money since the teams will pay the taxes. Yes, it's only 20% of the entire NHLPA, but it's the top 20% whom are the players the owners care about the most.
Pierre LeBrun (1:43 PM)
I agree it gives them some amount of leverage but I wouldn't agree that they're making as much money in Europe. They're making way, way less than their normal salary. In some cases, other than teams paying for their insurance, they're not even making much more than that...
This has to be, by far, the most stupidest lockout in the history of sports. How can Gary Bettman be this ignorant about how his decision to lock out the players will negatively impact the product. You have to be delusional to think that American fans will come back to the level they did last season (where you had the two biggest American NHL markets go deep in the playoffs). There's even apathy in Canada. We just don't care. I don't understand Gary Bettman. He's ruining the sport.
Pierre LeBrun (1:44 PM)
He takes the lion's share of the blame but remember one thing: he works for the owners. Did I mention the name JEREMY JACOBS?
In this humble chatter's opinion, the players should call Bettman's bluff. Sit out two years. Don't move an inch. The owners have significantly more to lose in the long run. Two seasons missed would mean a number of franchises folding, and I think the owners would blink.
Pierre LeBrun (1:45 PM)
Neither side wins if there's no hockey for two years. The players never get back the two years' worth of salary they lose. The owners lose some fans forever. The business would be severely injured on all levels and NOBODY wins from that.
Matt (Orlando, FL)
Let's talk hockey and not the lockout....How do you feel about the Rangers this year? Is this the year we make it back to the Stanley Cup finals?
Pierre LeBrun (1:46 PM)
I'd say right now that my top 3 in the East are Rangers, Penguins and Bruins.I may change my mind later when hockey is back and I have to actually write my predictions, but off the top of my head that's my call right now
Joey No-No (LA LA LAND)
This blows...we should be so pumped for the new season...instead we are discussing NHLPA vs NHL...I think I am going to bash my head into a wall and when I wake up, hopefully this circus will be over.
Pierre LeBrun (1:49 PM)
Plus your team is now for sale. Talk about a strange fall for Kings fans
When will we hear the first round of Regular Season cancellations?
Pierre LeBrun (1:50 PM)
My guess is either Friday or Monday we should hear about more cancellations... But that' s just a guess. The league hasn't told me that
socklesshal (vancouver, b.c.)
Are some of the poorer franchises in the league actually saving money by not playing the first few months of the season?
Pierre LeBrun (1:51 PM)
I will say this: I know some teams where hockey is tough sell in October aren't nearly as worried about a dark rink until November comes, that's for sure
From what I've read, it seems that the change in the value of the Canadian dollar is the biggest reason for the lockout. Right or wrong?
Pierre LeBrun (1:54 PM)
not sure it's the ''reason" for the lockout but certainly the incredible rise of the Canadian dollar (it's currently trading just above the U.S. dollar) pushed the salary cap up nearly on its own given that the Canadian teams are among the top-10 highest-revenue generating teams... Suddenly Canadian teams were taking in revenues in a currency just as powerful as the currency (US) the were playing their players... The Canadian dollar was around 75 cents US in 2004, and has been at par with U.S. dollar for the last 6 years or so... Huge factor for sure
dan (portland oregon)
why is the gaustad signing rated so bad, i find it funny because i follow him closely since him and i grew up together playing on all the same teams when we were younger.
Pierre LeBrun (1:55 PM)
No clue, I had nothing to do with that story
Why do they start negotiations so late? Why not start earlier to they can, you know, negotiate before the CBA expires.
Pierre LeBrun (1:57 PM)
NHL says it was ready to start talks in summer of 2011. NHLPA said it needed more time to get its ducks in order given that Don Fehr was just coming on and learning new sport, industry, etc.... so talks didn't get under way until this past June.... Not sure it makes a difference. The unfortunate history with this sport is that the expiry of the CBA seems to be the only way to get both sides to start talking seriously...
Meeting to talk about non-core issues is like picking drape colors for the house you haven't built yet. Are the meetings taking place Friday really that essential to the process? It seems like we're waiting for a side to blink first on the core issue. Is there any hope of them just deciding to blink together simultaneously like they eventually will?
Pierre LeBrun (1:59 PM)
I mean, at least they're back in the room together. Remember that eight years ago, there no NO talks from mid-September to early December. At least they avoided that this time around.
Ben (San Jose)
Not really hockey related, but what's your opinion of having ice girls at games? Having been to multiple games at the Madhouse on Madison and at the Shark Tank, I gotta say that the Sharks are missing out big time on a nice little (male) PR boost by not having them.More hockey related - How about Talbot/Gervais' idea of a charity series (La Tournee des Joueurs)? I would LOVE to go watch that.
Pierre LeBrun (2:01 PM)
On the Talbot/Gervais charity series, players donate to good cause. I like that. Plus it keeps them active. No problems with that at all
Pierre LeBrun (2:02 PM)
OK cool cats, sorry for those I didn't get to. Smart questions again this week. We'll get our law degrees and become labor lawyers by the time this lockout is over. Until next Wednesday