Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around ice.
In addition to covering the NHL as a whole, Strang, who previously covered the Islanders for Newsday, also covers the Rangers, Isles and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (1:00 PM)
Another week without hockey, another live chat to commiserate. Open to all questions, but feel free to rant as well. Only understandable at this point...
Jeff (Glen Ellyn)
Will there be NHL hockey on December 1st?
Katie Strang (1:02 PM)
I think December 1 -- and that was a legitimate target by the NHL recently -- is now unrealistic. Unless a deal gets made tonight, which I find to be highly unlikely, that is a little too optimistic. Even once you have a framework in place, takes some time to iron out the details. And then once you factor in a training camp of 7-9 days, no chance. Two sides remain too far apart
Andrew (Washington, DC)
If a recent CBA proposal was put up to a vote, despite all the rhetoric, would it pass?
Katie Strang (1:04 PM)
No. And that would be the answer from both the league and union's perspective. There are certainly enough people who are wholly committed to playing that a new CBA can get done, but neither side wants their desperation to force them so ink a bad deal.
Greg (Anaheim, CA)
With the NHLPA requesting a meeting today, can you speculate on what they may be discussing/offering with the NHL?
Katie Strang (1:07 PM)
Consulted with high-ranking sources on both sides of the discussions this morning and they remain tight-lipped. The league claims they have "no idea" what will come of tonight's meeting. The union would not divulge whether a new proposal will be submitted.What we do know is that there will be some new faces in the room. That can't be bad. May change the dynamic and shake something loose
True or False: The season is lost unless there is significant progress made in negotiations this week.
Katie Strang (1:09 PM)
False. Time is definitely ticking and I firmly believe a season cancellation would happen in December (as opposed to February, as was the case in the 2004-05 lockout), but even if things go south this week, all hope is not lost.Realistically, I think they have about 2-3 weeks to come to an agreement.
Do you think the fact that Ed Snider appears to have had enough of the lockout will help resolve matters?
Katie Strang (1:12 PM)
Regardless of which side they come from, moderates stepping up and taking a more vocal role can only be a good thing in my opinion.Hard to imagine Snider as a moderate, I know, but according to the Philly Daily News he has "soured on the process."I know Snider himself denied the report and Gary Bettman called it a "fabrication" (ridiculous, by the way), but everything I have heard recently validates this story.
Who is attending todays meetings.
Katie Strang (1:15 PM)
Reports indicate that Steve Yzerman and Joe Nieuwendyk are attending, as are players Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Have heard Andy McDonald as a possibility for the players as well. As of an hour ago, the NHLPA was still finalizing a roster to send into tonight's session.
Who do you think the public favors now...owners or players??
Katie Strang (1:17 PM)
For the most part (and this can be attributed at least in part to several huge PR missteps on the league's behalf) I think the public sides with the players, but I think fans are becoming more and more disillusioned with all parties involved.Cannot blame anyone for becoming frustrated, especially given the issues that divide the two sides. Unlike the last time around, the problems aren't systemic. This comes down to numbers and there is a deal to be made
Why did Bettman put out the idea of a 2 week moratorium? How did he think pushing things off again was really going to go over well with players and fans both?
Katie Strang (1:20 PM)
Good question. This is what happened: Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr had a conversation last week. Fehr said that, given both sides' respective positions, he did't really see how to proceed. In response, Bettman suggested a two-week break.In my opinion, a bad idea. No matter how bad things get, a deal can only get done if dialogue is sustained.Maybe Bettman thought the two sides needed to decompress, regroup, whatever. But, clearly he is re-thinking that now since the two sides are meeting tonight
Do you feel that the CBA would get done faster with a mediator? If so, should both sides put egos aside and use one? And if they do should they use the NFL's mediator?
Katie Strang (1:23 PM)
I don't think having a neutral third-party involved could hurt, even if it is non-binding, but I'm not sure how much time remains for them to seek out other routes to resolution now.Interesting insight I received recently from someone involved in the lockout, though: Told me that the side that is more resistant to using a mediator usually is so because they know that their stance is less reasonable than the other side. Will keep that in mind moving forward
Do you think Fehr took this job solely to stop the Proskauer Rose lockout strategy in labour negotiations?
Katie Strang (1:24 PM)
No. But I am curious as to why he took the gig at all. He didn't have a vested interest in hockey before and his legacy is already cemented in the labor peace he was able to achieve in baseball.
Curt (Long Island)
We have seen some real frustration shown by members of both sides. Any chance Bettman or Fehr get replaced before a deal is done?
Katie Strang (1:26 PM)
Highly doubtful. I know the rhetoric and posturing makes this a popular idea, but it won't happen.Both are brilliant negotiators, hence the frustration from both sides.Could we see their respective No. 2's -- Steve Fehr and Bill Daly -- take a more central role the longer this endures?Absolutely
Do you think that the players coming out and running their mouths about Bettman and the owners is helping to drive a little more of a wedge between the 2 sides? You keep hearing the players talking about who is at fault for parts of the negotiations and then wonder why the ownership sides doesn't want to give into them. They should really adopt the owners policy of not talking about negotiations, not saying that there would be a deal now, but maybe both sides wouldn't have so much animosity toward each other.
Katie Strang (1:29 PM)
We've heard a lot about how the universal dislike for Bettman has been a galvanizing force, but there's something to be said for the flip side, too.Yes, I believe there is an element of hostility from the ownership side after seeing so much vitriol from the players, but the union's ability to speak is also a huge strength for the membership.Transparency helps when it comes to solidarity. Draconian measures to censor a constituency always seem a tad suspect to me.
I see that in the discussions there is talk of projected growth for the league and how they divide that up. How can they possibly project growth without knowing what damage is being done by this ridiculous lockout.
Katie Strang (1:33 PM)
Really good question. This has been a source of debate throughout the process. As a rule, the league has been more conservative in growth projections given one-time exceptions the last seven years (strength of Canadian Dollar, relocation, TV deals) whereas the PA has been more generous.At one point, the two sides agreed to a certain growth rate for the ease of negotiations, but even that seems to have crumbled.Very difficult now to ballpark future growth, considering the damage that has already occurred as a result of the lockout
Granted that Bettman works for the owners (not the fans), what will be his legacy as a commissioner regardless of how the current lockout plays out?
Katie Strang (1:34 PM)
I don't see any way that his legacy is not that of a commissioner that saw three lockouts under his watch.
I'm getting tired of the players saying "what do we get out of this deal?" How's about $3-10 Million a year. It's comments like this that I feel the fans are starting to move towards the owners side.
Katie Strang (1:37 PM)
Understand it is hard to empathize with people that are making millions, but you have to think of it from a more principled standpoint, ie: What do they have now, and what are they being asked to give up?They feel they have made major concessions, both currently and during the last lockout, and that the league is unwilling to reciprocate.The league, however, also feels it has made some significant moves toward the union and are similarly frustrated
Marc (Malden, MA)
Just keep Jeremy Jacobs away from the meetings.
Katie Strang (1:39 PM)
Ha, funny you should say that since that seemed to be the sentiment spilling out from the NHLPA side after negotiations went South.Don't get the wrong idea: he doesn't openly antagonize, but players feel like his presence is prohibitive to negotiations.Should be interesting to see which owners are involved today. Only ones we have really seen so far are Jacobs, Edwards, Leipold and Leonsis
What is a realistic start date?
Katie Strang (1:41 PM)
If they get a deal done soon -- as in the next week -- I think the second week in December.But my guess is that a deal will get done in mid-December to have games ready to begin for the New Year (albeit no Winter Classic)
What do you think about the NHL players going overseas to play? Shouldn't they be staying over here and be united with the union? Sounds like these guys are having a European vacation and having fun instead of suffering through the lockout with the fans. I know they need to stay sharp in case the lockout ends, but they are taking jobs and money from players that really need it.
Katie Strang (1:42 PM)
I don't really subscribe to the idea of NHL'ers being bad for taking jobs from other players. Hockey is a business and that's part of it. Most of them aren't over there for the big bucks or posh locales, they are playing because they want to stay in shape and keep their skills sharp for whenever the NHL resumes. Can't blame a guy for that
GJ Latendresse (Norway)
Do you think there will be a season?
Katie Strang (1:44 PM)
Yes, I do, and I'm not just saying that because I want this chat to end on a positive note:)I think there is a realistic chance it gets cancelled -- and it seems to be getting perilously close -- but I still think there are too many people who are committed to brokering an agreement.Gut feeling is that a deal is made by Mid-December
Katie Strang (1:45 PM)
Ok all, thanks for stopping by! And, as always, great questions! Hope to have some better news for you the next time we chat.Happy Holidays!