Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Greetings all. Wish we could launch into some lively discussion about training camps opening and which teams will be on the rise and, well, you know. But, hey, we can still do that. Now, where were we?
Scott, does public perception play any kind of role in the CBA negociations? Fans aren't happy with either side, but will that affect either position?
Scott Burnside (1:02 PM)
Jeff; Great question and I'm not sure anyone knows for sure. No doubt the owners are banking that fans will return en masse as they did seven years ago when the last lockout ended. In the end, though, I think both sides will pay a heavy price in terms of angry fans if another season is lost and then no one will remember who was 'right' and who was 'wrong' just that it turned into a giant mess.
Rob (New Castle)
We all know that the owners can outlast the players and that the 50/50 split is what they want. Regardless of what they used to get why don't the players just accept this notion and move forward. No company or union anywhere else in the world would ask and get even a 50/50 split. Please tell Sydney that the 8.9 million he won't get this year can never be made up regardless of what the final split is.
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Rob; There's definitely the pragmatic element to this and that goes to your point; if even half a season goes by the boards let alone an entire season no deal the players sign will make up for that last revenue. But for the players there are other issues that factor in like the principle of giving in to owners whose fallback plan is to lock out their players. These are the same owners of course who handed out big-money deals like candy in the weeks before the lockout. That's hard for players to swallow even in the face of the reality that they're in a no-win position vis a vis the bottom line.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Can the players collect unemployment?
Scott Burnside (1:08 PM)
Marc; I wish I knew the answer to that but I can't imagine the optics would be very good if it came to light that players were collecting. Would be worse than Krys Barch's O.V.-fueled Twitter ramblings.
Larry (New York)
Hey Scott, are you teling me that Ed Snider supports this lockout? if the owners were truly united; they wouldn't be under a gag order
Scott Burnside (1:10 PM)
Larry; That's the great unknown this time around; just how deep is the ownership support for the lockout? Snider has traditionally been hawklike although rumors are that he would rather see his Flyers on the ice. We know the Rangers would rather be playing but there remains a widespread fear of reprisal from the league if they speak their mind (see Jimmy Devellano and his rancher rhetoric and the $250,000 fine that followed). Is it possible there could be a fissure in the owners' resolve? Still hard to see it happening given the way the system is set up.
Luke (St. Paul)
Scott, Its not even that the players won't agree to a 50/50 split. The last NHLPA proposal had the players finishing slightly below 53%, more negotiating would have got them to 50/50. Its that the NHLPA won't cave to salary roll backs or larger amounts going to the owners via Escrow and want a gradual reduction to the final split. They feel the owners should honor their contracts, or everything done this offseason was done in bad faith negotiating.
Scott Burnside (1:12 PM)
Luke; Agreed. But the owners want immediate economic relief from a system that, yes, they implemented, but which they say is out of whack with their costs etc. Can you say gridlock? I still think there is room for both sides to move towards the middle but which side has the courage to take that first, big step? The answer to that determines when or if we'll have hockey this season.
I've been to three of the Original Six cities: Boston, NY and Chicago. Which one should I visit next: Detroit, Toronto or Montreal?
Scott Burnside (1:14 PM)
Hollister; Go to Montreal and go if you can tickets to see either Toronto or Boston. Great vibe.
Bill (Boston )
When do you think we will see hockey? I think sooner rather than later only because i could see the players union going after the cap if it carries on much longer . What are your thoughts ?
Scott Burnside (1:15 PM)
Bill; My guess is still that we'll see hockey before Thanksgiving. We'd better because I don't see any halfways about this lockout a la 1994-95. If we get to mid-November without a deal and the NHL cancels the Winter Classic say goodnight Irene.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Did you watch the KHL game Tuesday night? Are those really two of the best teams in the league?
Scott Burnside (1:16 PM)
Marc; I saw some of the game the other day and it looked great, HD and the whole bit plus Barry and Steve doing color. Wonder what kind of following the KHL will get as the NHL situation continues.
Felix (Long Island)
Scott, in a revenue sharing model, the players are essentially partners in the business. How does any business have one side shouldering all of the expenses of operating the business while the other side collects off the top without regard of cost of running and growth costs? Can't the players see the owners shoulder the hardships of growing the league which IN TURN grows THEIR salaries?
Scott Burnside (1:19 PM)
Felix; I think there's a lot to this side of the argument that gets lost in the rhetoric shuffle. The players, with all due respect, aren't part of the machinery that created the Winter Classic or the Premier Games in Europe other than being 'the show' which they are regardless, no? It costs money to make money and the NHL has done a great job of opening up new revenue streams and you're right the cost of doing that business doesn't come out of the players' pockets. Now, does that suggest revenues should be split 50-50 or as the players suggest something more like 53-47 in their favor?
Will the players that are overseas be able to come back once the lockout ends? Or will they be stuck in one of the other leagues for the rest of the year?
Scott Burnside (1:21 PM)
Ross; All the players who are under contract to NHL clubs can and must return to their clubs when a new CBA is signed. Some players (Alexander Ovechkin for one) have suggested they might stay if the new deal isn't to their liking but in theory they would be in breach of their NHL contracts and wouldn't be able to play in the KHL or other sanctioned leagues. Further, the IIHF would, again in theory, bar those players from participating in international events if they failed to honor their contracts.
Garrett (Long Island)
Hey Scott! Yes or No question... Will Lunqvist bring a Stanley Cup to New York ?
Scott Burnside (1:23 PM)
Garrett; Yes, I believe he will. In fact I had the Rangers at the top of the Eastern Conference in my Power Rankings based on the make-up of the team including the addition of Rick Nash etc. Now, perhaps the better question is how wide is the window with Lundqvist who just turned 30 last season? Pretty wide I would say.
Fehr, always said that the owners do not need to lockout and we can still negotiate. Isnt that disingenuous, unless of course you are going to let the owner 'collude' without contention in the short term as they tried to do under a wink wink in the NFL all those years ago.
Scott Burnside (1:24 PM)
Jim; Yes it was a non-starter for the NHL although it did get Fehr some positive press. To continue to play under the old CBA would have taken all incentive to negotiate away from the players until a pressure point like the playoffs.
Any chance the Islanders are sold to a new owner before 2015 and possible relocation?
Scott Burnside (1:27 PM)
klynch; Tough one as there have been rumors Charles Wang would entertain offers for the club before the lease comes up at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Nassau but that he's asking for the moon. Hard to imagine that a) the Isles will end up staying on Long Island and b) that Wang will end up owning the team wherever they end up. My guess at this stage would be Barclays Center in Brooklyn which would keep a third team in the New York area which is important to the league.
Marc (Malden, MA)
It's also disingenous when a lockout is the league's first resort and not their last resort.
Scott Burnside (1:30 PM)
Marc; Absolutely true. And you have to wonder if the league miscalculated by making their first in July so off the charts one-sided that it forced the process off the rails before it even got started? I have no dog in this fight. Don't care who gets what, really, but it still boggles the mind that these two groups can't find a way not to get this done without doing untold damage to a game that in so many respects is as healthy as it's ever been.
Surprised you didn't mention Jeremy Jacobs in your piece about the owners seeing as the over all fan base hated him here in Boston and were looking for him to sell the team for years because he was looked to be greedy. The Bruins win the SC and all of a sudden that's forgotten but once again as the head of the board of governers he's back to his old tricks.
Scott Burnside (1:31 PM)
Mike; No question Jeremy Jacobs remains very much a force in these negotiations and the hardline the league has, to date, taken with the players. Some habits are hard to break, no?
Chris (Rutgers Grease Trucks, NJ)
Hi Scott: You said that the window is wide for The Rangers. How many prime years does King Henrik have left? He is the cornerstone of this team. Thanks!
Scott Burnside (1:35 PM)
Chris; Given his durability I would say four or five for sure. For me the issue with Lundqvist is getting over the hump in the playoffs. He was terrific last spring but still couldn't get the Rangers to the big dance even though they had home ice against the Devils and looked to have the series in hand through the first three games when he pitched two shutouts. That's why this season was so intriguing for me, how he and the Rangers might build on that.
How much time was wasted with the owners and PA waiting til a couple of weeks after the SCF to even start talking. Not that I am loving the owners, but the players could have stepped forward around the ASG in January and set a schedule for negotiations that would have everyone in a better position
Scott Burnside (1:38 PM)
Dan; As far back as early in 2012 the league was ready to start negotiating but Donald Fehr was new in his post and then the union didn't want to talk leading up to the playoffs and then, well, it took forever to get things going if you can even call what we've seen thus far 'going' anywhere. Of course the players would argue that once they started talking the owners haven't done much other than offer something horrible and then modify it to something slightly less horrible.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Of the other 29 owners, how many do you think side with Jacobs on his hardline stance? All they need is 75% approval of a CBA right? Are the other owners really that scared of Jacobs? Sissies.
Scott Burnside (1:41 PM)
Marc; I'm guessing 10 to 12 which is enough and the fear of repurcussions if they appear not to be in lockstep with the league's plan is a significant factor. There's also the fact that Gary Bettman has delivered the goods in the past (ie. a salary cap) and there is significant respect for that even if some (many?) owners may not totally agree with the current tack.
8 out of 30 against the approval I thought
Scott Burnside (1:46 PM)
Jim; You are correct.
Felix (Long Island)
Scott, generally speaking when negotiating, you start off equal distance to get to the midpoint your comfortable with in the end. Doesn't it seem obvious that the league came in a 43% simply because the players are already at 57%? Its not coincidence the midpoint happens to be 50. So the league coming in a 43 should have been expected or else they would have settled above 50. So why so offended by the intial proposal?
Scott Burnside (1:48 PM)
Felix; Not sure it was only the number although that's a pretty big jump from 575 to 43% even if it was just an opening gambit. There was also the other elements of restricting contract length, extending entry level deals and extending the time of service required for free agency. Even if the league fully intended (intends?) to move off those points in bargaining the entire package was sen not so much as a starting point as an insult, for what it's worth.
So you don't want a 6% salary roll back, but are willing to play overseas for 50 cents on the dollar? That's just the first and second line players. The third and four line players sit at home collecting nothing. I hate siding with Bettman on anything, but how does this make any sense? You are paid millions to play a game you love, right?
Scott Burnside (1:50 PM)
Rush; Had this very same discussion with a top agent the other day. I understand the need to want to stay sharp etc. but I do think it's unseemly to see so many guys going overseas and taking jobs from other players who might not otherwise have a hockey job and then play essentially for free when you factor in the cost of insuring existing NHL contracts etc. Doesn't seem to make sense does it?
In your opinion will we see NHL games by Christmas?
Scott Burnside (1:51 PM)
Don; I remain optimistic that we will.
Which teams and which venue would you like to see in the next Winter Classic? Assuming of course it ever happens again...
Scott Burnside (1:53 PM)
Hollister; Hmmmm. Assuming we actually see the Wings/Leafs at the Big House this Jan. 1 I would like to see a western team maybe the Kings (who've earned it) or the Blues playing somewhere in the New York area against the host Rangers. Or how about this, what about a mini-tournament with the Kings, Rangers, Devils and, okay, the Isles?
Tim Irvin (Los Angeles)
Hi Scott. Let's talk about something other than the current labor stalemate...I proposed this statement to you colleague Craig Custance and he respectfully disagreeed...It seems that the NHL is so "East Centric" (both in the US and Canada) that while I am overjoyed at the Kings first Stanley Cup, it might have been bad for the NHL for the Kings (limited national profile) to win the cup? Agree? Disagree?
Scott Burnside (1:54 PM)
Tim; I never disagree with Craig Custance. While it's been a boon to the league to have teams like Chicago and Boston win Cups and to see the Flyers go back to the finals I think too much is made of 'unfavorable' final matchups or winners. The Kings were a great, great story and the interest in L.A. was off the charts. No way that's a bad thing.
Garrett (Long Island)
In regards to your comment about Lunqvist's performance in the playoffs, if he was on either the Capitals or Flyers he would probably have multiple rings by now. It's the Ranger's offense that has prevented them from reaching the next level.
Scott Burnside (1:57 PM)
Garrett; Not blaming Lundqvist for the Rangers' failure to get a ring but there have been moments; Rangers up 3-1 versus Washington in '08, when things have gone a bit off the rails for Lundqvist. And you're right he still didn't get much offensive help last spring and still got to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final. Again, this season looms (loomed?) large given the addition of Nash and assuming Gaborik returns to health at some point during the season because there should be more offensive support than Lundqvist has ever had.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Are there any venues in Canada that could hold a Winter Classic?
Scott Burnside (1:59 PM)
Marc; There are a few but not all that many what with the CFL's teams in Vancouver and Toronto playing indoors (I guess SkyDome could open the roof but that wouldn't be the same, I don't think). Could do one in Winnipeg. That would be a blast. How about Saskatchewan?
Matt Duchene (Sweden)
When we start playing again, will I and my team have a better season this year? Last year was rough, I wasn't 100%.
Scott Burnside (1:59 PM)
Matt; I think the Avs will be one of those dark horse teams that sneak into the playoffs in the West. Assuming you stay healthy of course.
Scott Burnside (2:00 PM)
Okay folks, thanks for dropping by once again. Off to Dallas this weekend for U.S. Hall of Fame ceremonies so look forward to catching up next week.