Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (1:01 PM)
Greetings all. Welcome to October and Week Three of the latest in the NHL's lockout series. Makes me think of those Friday The 13th movies that made you wonder when will this end? Now, where were we?
What will be the most exciting division next year (if we have a year)?
Scott Burnside (1:03 PM)
Hollister; Love to think about what real hockey would look like. I think it's a toss-up between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Rangers upped the ante with Rick Nash, Flyers are in transition and yet have great, young depth up front, the Pens are loaded yet trying to overcome playoff humbling and the Devils even without Zach Parise are the Devils and then there are the Islanders looking to sit at the big boys' table.
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Pacific has defending Cup champs in L.A. who look like they'll be just as formidable, older but more dangerous Stars, Sharks are looking to bounce back to form while the Coyotes are look capable of repeating last year's heroics. Ducks are still capable, too, and Bruce Boudreau will have higher comfort level this season.
How can both sides talk about not wanting to miss games while continuing to ignore the core issues in talks?
Scott Burnside (1:07 PM)
Alex; A question I'm sure fans all over the hockey world were wondering over the weekend when the two sides spent time working over drug testing policies, player safety, travel etc. I guess if you're an optimist then these are things that won't bog things down when they do get a framework for a new deal in place. But you're quite right, no deal gets done unless the dividing up of the revenues gets resolved and right now they're a million miles apart on that.
The lowering of the salary cap will hurt many teams currently over the suspected new cap. In fairness to all the players and towards the GMs who have assembled their teams, do you think all player contracts should be slashed by the same percentage as the old salary cap to the new one?
Scott Burnside (1:10 PM)
Austin; Not sure the players think any slashing of current contracts would be considered fair but you're point is an excellent one; how will the league administer the salary cap issues if, for instance, the cap under which the GMs operated (foolishly in many cases) this summer drops by $10 million or so? The league hasn't said how it will work, whether there will be a buyout amnesty or some across-the-board mechanism for reducing salaries but it will certainly make for some interesting times if we get that far.
john (new jersey)
hi scott, ive really been following rumors of nhl teams possibly relocating. worried about my devils moving, the isles have a good chance of moving after 2015 and then theres the coyotes. do u think we'll c relocations anytime soon and if so, where will they go?
Scott Burnside (1:12 PM)
john; I will be surprised if the Devils ever end up going anywhere else. Similarly, if the Isles end up leaving Long Island my guess is they won't go far as the NHL likes having three markets in the New York area. My guess is Devils will emerge from their current financial mess. The Isles' issues are more significant given their building issues. They simply can't stay where they are, everyone acknowledges that.
Lonny (Blaine, MN)
Take away 4 small markets that are losing big money right now would we be talking about a lock out or training camp right now
Scott Burnside (1:14 PM)
Lonny; Don't think it's that simple. Think about teams that struggled in the past like Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Buffalo and if they'd been contracted the league would be a lesser place than it is now. I'm not saying the product wouldn't be better with 26 teams instead of 30 but hard to make entire teams disappear and lots of times teams that look like they should be disappeared aren't actually that far from being self-sustaining.
Scott, I know the player portion of HRR is a big sticking point, but what are your thoughts on the 10 years of service before unrestricted free agency? That's a huge portion of a player's career.
Scott Burnside (1:16 PM)
Tom; Agreed and I am guessing that is something the owners have asked for knowing they'll use that as a give-back at some point during negotiations (assuming they ever actually talk about the core issues that are needed to get a new CBA). Can't see the players ever going for a 10-year period before getting to UFA status.
It was easy to see this lock-out coming after the NHL's original proposal asked for the NHLPA's share of Revenue to go from 57% to 43%. The media has also made it appear the main force behind the 43% Share proposal was NOT driven by Gary Bettman, but by Jeremy Jacobs. If this is true, then it is hard to imagine this guy has all 30 Owners best interest in mind...there is no way anybody in their right mind could start the negotiation that low and still expect a deal to be reached in time to start the Season without missing games. It is difficult to imagine his "tactic" won't divide the Owner's once games/Revenues are missed. At what point can the Owners elect a new Chairman of the Board?
Scott Burnside (1:19 PM)
Jake; The issue of ownership solidarity is a bigger one this time than eight years ago because there are more teams with lots to lose. Still, you have to give Gary Bettman credit for building consensus and with the support of influential owners like Jeremy Jacobs who is the head of the Board of Governors and Ed Snider it's hard to imagine the circumstances where there would be open revolt from other markets or even a small schism that could lead to the owners backing down. If it happens that way then hard to imagine Commissioner Gary Bettman sticking around after a new deal is struck.
Justin (Albany, NY)
Can Bettman be impeached, or de-throned? Can't there be some sort of vote of no confidence? Every game in the regular season that is lost means a lot of revenue going out the window for everybody. So shouldn't somebody other than Gary Bonaparte be put in charge to save the season (and league) at this point? I'm really disappointed that we're facing losing 2 seasons in 8 years. That's a 75%, and the owners should know that you can't survive only pulling in 75% of what you should be getting. So should the players.
Scott Burnside (1:22 PM)
Justin; Following up on a theme today I know Bettman is the lightning rod for much discontent from both the fans and players but it's worth noting that he pushes an agenda that is the owners' agenda. If the majority of owners looked at where we're at right now, staring down missing games and possibly an entire season and wanted a deal done it would be done in a matter of days. End of story. But enough owners who control the process are determined to reset the economics exactly the way they want and that's why we're where we're at now. Bettman is driving the bus, I'll give you that, but he's getting directions from those sitting behind him and until those directions change (ie. turn left, now.) we're in for a long one I believe.
john (new jersey)
scott i happen to believe the revenue sharing system needs to be more like the nfl so that way the devils, coyotes and other teams can get a bigger piece of the pie. do u agree?
Scott Burnside (1:24 PM)
john; The players certainly think a lot more has to be done to help the teams at the bottom end of the economic ladder in order to stabilize the entire league. The NHL also has indicated they, too, believe, there have to be changes to ensure that more teams that need help can get it and that, in terms of actual dollars, more revenue is made available. Each side, however, insists that the other's revenue sharing plan is flawed so what you imagine should be a simple process is also bogged down by conflicting ideas about implementation.
Do you have a personal target date for if there will be a season?
Scott Burnside (1:27 PM)
Bob; I remain, in spite of all the facts, optimistic that not only will there be a season but a full 82 game slate. My belief is based on the fact that I think both sides have a pretty good sense that the potential for half-measures a la 1994-95 when they played 48 games isn't there. I think it'll be all or nothing with the NHL prepared to ice (if you'll pardon the pun) the Winter Classic etc. by early November. That's why I think it gets done soon or it doesn't get done at all.
you have probably answered this, but i am new to chat. your opinion: will there be any semblance of a season?
Scott Burnside (1:28 PM)
dan; And as a follow-up to the previous question I am guessing the two sides get the framework of a deal done by Oct. 15.
Scott, I know this might be a touchy subject on this site, but I'm going to give it a shot. I know this doesn't really kick in until the WC, but is the NHL concerned about it's TV relationship? It took the league years to finally get back on a "regular" network. I can't imagine that unnamed network is too pleased with all this. What's the chances the NHL burns that bridge because of all this? I imagine that's a lot of money to burn away as well, no?
Scott Burnside (1:33 PM)
JD; My understanding of the deal with NBC is that the money for this season is guaranteed regardless if there's a season or not but that lost games would be dealt with at the end of the current 10-year deal.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I understand Gary Betteman works for the owners, but wasn't Betteman the one who decided it would be a good idea to have 30 teams in markets that couldn't care less about hockey?
Scott Burnside (1:35 PM)
Marc; There is truth to that. But I don't recall any of the owners declining to take their share of the millions of dollars in expansion or relocation fees that came along with teams being plunked down or moved to Dallas, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Atlanta etc. If the scope of the league is to be blamed - and I'm not convinced it's the real problem facing the NHL in general - then the owners have to shoulder the blame for being too short-sighted and not looking beyond the cash influx such moves provided.
With the owners using today to do some home work . Do you think they will bring a proposal tommorow? A serious determined offer that gets the players and owners in a 50/50 split of revenue?
Scott Burnside (1:38 PM)
Kevin; Not sure about tomorrow but my sense is the two sides will take another run at it this week and that means tackling the revenue split. The middle ground, in my view, is seeing the owners back off their initial demands for immediate economic relief and the players agreeing that their split has to come down from 57% more quickly than by just artificially lowering their share in three or four year's time.
Steve (Pittsburgh, PA)
If revenues are the big problem, why not go soccer style with sponsors on the jerseys? If it gets us hockey this year, I'll be fine rooting for the Pittsburgh Coca-Colas. Heck, change the numbers too "minor penalty, hooking, number Exxon Mobile." It'd give the added bonus of being able to yell things like "Hey Apple, you stink!"
Scott Burnside (1:38 PM)
Steve; I'm with you. Load 'em up.
Scott, How out of tune, are the owners and, to an extent the players, to think that, if there is a major lock-out, that the fans/revenue, after a deal is reached, will actually come-back to a point, anywhere close, to where we've been, in the past 2-years?
Scott Burnside (1:40 PM)
Mark; You speak the truth. The owners and perhaps to a lesser extent the players have built a strategy that assumes unconditional love from the fans based on the fact that unconditional love revealed itself after the last lockout. My sense is that this time around fans won't put up with what they see as a cash grab on the part of the owners. Maybe I'm wrong but I think the damage to another lost season - maybe even half a season - is significant.
Is this lockout really just a conspiracy by the city of Atlanta? They're mad that they couldn't keep an NHL team, so now they're ruining it for all of us... aren't they?
Scott Burnside (1:42 PM)
Hollister; You may be on to something. Unless it's all those long-suffering Hartford Whaler fans exacting their revenge. Or Cleveland Baron fans.
Why aren't the two sides locking themselves into a room to hammer this out? I feel both sides are far too comfortable with another work stoppage.
Scott Burnside (1:43 PM)
Bob; In theory we should be approaching 'lock the door' stage with regular season games about to be axed this week. We talk pressure points well those points are upon us and I think in the coming days we'll see if there's a chance at some movement or whether we're in for nuclear winter once again.
Which is better for NHL '13; XBox 360 or PS3? And who'd make the better goalie, Iron Man or Captain America?
Scott Burnside (1:44 PM)
Justin; Shuffleboard tables I can talk about but video games, even hockey, sorry. And Captain America. Never mind paddle down it would be shield down on the wrap-around.
Scott - curious to know if one of the non-monetary issues discussed this past weekend was realignment. Where does that stand amongst priority issues since the NHLPA struck it down earlier this year.
Scott Burnside (1:46 PM)
Bruce; Realignment wasn't on the table as far as I know on the weekend but I do believe it came up during earlier discussions when the league asked for control over league matters like scheduling and realignment. The players, of course, threw a wrench in the league's plans for realignment during their board of governors' meetings last December. Still some debate as to whether the players actually have any say in the matter and when push comes to shove don't see that being a deal-breaker one way or another.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Any chance that we could see something like the players agree to a 45% share if the owners agreed to a 66 game season? 82 games is way too many.
Scott Burnside (1:48 PM)
Marc; Don't see that happening as neither side is keen on giving up anything in terms of revenues/salaries. Absolutely with you, though, would love to see a 72-game slate that would see playoffs done by end of May or so. Players would be healthier, competition more keen, interest would remain higher, I think, for the duration. Sadly, that ship has sailed.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I think the scope of the league is big problem. Hockey is not football, baseball or basketball. It's not a sport that appeals to casual fans, it's not a sport that can sustain 30 teams. In the US, it's a niche sport that has a small, but loyal, fanbase.
Scott Burnside (1:53 PM)
Marc; There's lots of evidence to support your case but having seen the fans rally around the Florida Panthers as they went to the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and the Coyotes' fans coming out in droves as they went to their first-ever conference final I still think there's room for these franchise. Maybe I'm naive but I still think there's a way to make it work but it's going to take a lot more creativity than we've seen exhibited by either side, especially the owners, at this stage of the game (as it were).
Scott Burnside (1:54 PM)
Okay folks, have to close up shop for the week. Thanks for dropping by and here's to talking some real on-ice hockey in the very near future.