Hello all, pretty big day for the hockey world with players and owners meeting in Toronto to discuss whether there's a chance to get a full season of hockey on the books. Meanwhile, where were we?
Am I the only one so anxious to hear what comes out of these meetings today? Do you think the NHLPA will counter with a response to the CBA presented or come up with a total new proposal? I want to see the SE Banner hung in Sunrise on Nov 3...this waiting game is NOT fun
Dara; I can tell you from my perspective there is a high level of anxiety/anticipation awaiting today's meeting in Toronto. And that feeling I think extends around the hockey world. Eighteen players on hand including Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal with top owners (top being a relative term I suppose) Jeremy Jacobs and Ted Leonsis. I believe the players will counter but will they counter off the league's proposal or counter in a different manner? Stay tuned.
Scott, what's the word on a possible amnesty clause? I have to figure even with the 12 month grace period, it's still going to be tough for some teams to get below the cap. Any update on this?
JD; I believe the league's offer would allow teams to use this summer's cap ($70.2 million) for one year. The one factor that will impact that is that under league's proposal teams can no longer bury players' salaries in the AHL a la Wade Redden.
Which top 20 player is likely to stay in Europe?
Ken; I think the whole 'will they come back' issue is a huge red herring. All pro leagues including the KHL have agreements to honor other legal contracts. If there is a new CBA and a player has an existing NHL contract they will have to return to the NHL or risk being banned from playing wherever they are. Further the IIHF should prohibit players who won't honor contracts from playing in sanctioned events like the World Championships or the Olympics. This is a player scare tactic which makes little sense in my opinion.
is the NHLPA supposed to respond at 1:00 PM EST?
Yan; They have delayed to at least 1:30 as the PA was finishing up conference call with negotiating committee/executive.
Nice to see that Cleary is making a showing for the big red machine. How agressive do you think it will get in the room today?
BK; A lot of speculating as the sides were preparing for today. Some believe the show of strength from players in terms of player numbers and player profiles suggests a defiant PA response but no one knows. My sense is that it will end pretty quickly if the PA decides to come at the league with something completely new or something that merely builds from their own proposal of a few weeks ago. If there is some hybrid, something that works from the league's proposal, this should spark something like traction towards a deal.
If the PA counter is not based off what the league put forth, what do you think the league reaction will be? Will that doom the 2012-2013 season if there is no signifigant movement?
Larry; Good follow-up. Hard to tell without knowing what might be in PA's proposal but know the league will have a small appetite for something that isn't condusive to immediate traction. Fair or not I think they'll quickly eliminate a big chunk of games and then we're talking about a small chance to save half the season and I think a much greater likelihood the entire season goes down the tubes.
Scott, I hate that the league/Bettman swayed public opinion by offering a 50-50 split the other day. That being said, if that's what other leagues have, the players have a good starting point from which to make a counter offer. However, according to Fehr's letter, there are still very few, if any, concessions by the league. What kinds of concessions could you see the league agreeing to if the players' counter works within the framework of the league's most current offer?
Howie; I think it's key for the league and players to come to an understanding of how the players' full salaries will be honored. There has been a suggestion it's a robbing Peter to pay Peter situation where the players merely pay more (or get paid less) as the deal moves along. But if there's a mechanism for players to get all their salaries early on and rising revenues account for full honoring of deals later in deal that might work. I think there's room, too, on contract length and maybe even the actual split early in the new CBA. In short, there is room for the league to move in the right environment.
I loved reading today that Sid somewhat admitted to hacking away at Giroux and ultimately fracturing his wrist. If for no other reason, I want the NHL to come back to see these two battle it out! Did anyone get under Gretzky's skin the way Giroux seems to?
Ken; When I read that I was thinking ahead to next summer when, assuming there is a CBA and the players will return to the Olympics, when Crosby and Giroux will hang out at the Olympic Orientation Camp (likely in Calgary). Think we'll ask them about Crosby's comments? And good for Crosby for being candid. Covered that series and for pure sidebar action it was a dandy even if neither goaltender could stop a beachball.
A lot of rumors circling right now on expansion once they get this out of the way. I want Seattle and Quebec City if they go that route, not Toronto2. Is this just floated to sell magazines or get people on the owners side during the lockout? I think at some point two teams are coming though, how quickly do you see that happening?
Josh; No way the NHL expands until the Phoenix situation is resolved (I say they stay in Glendale) and then there are actual arenas if not built then near completion in Seattle and/or Quebec City. League won't commit until those kinds of situations are completely resolved.
Scott, with some player concern of 'cramming' 82 games in slightly less time (I believe one of you wrote that it was adding an extra game every 5 weeks), is there a possibility that players would counter with playing something like 76-80 games this season to decrease the injury risk of having slightly less time off? Or do you think that the slightly shortened time period would be negligible to them, and ensuring they're payed in full?
Tod; I don't think the league's proposal would be all that different than say an Olympic year when there is a compressed schedule. And my sense is that with the league's plans it wouldn't be all that different than what was on the books originally in terms of actual length of the season. It's more that timing would be pushed back with playoffs starting late April not mid-April and playoffs finishing later.
Just received a note from our man in the streets of Toronto, Pierre LeBrun, who says meeting now pushed back to 2:30 at earliest. Make of this what you will.
What will happen with the Oilers? Stay in Edmonton? Also, do you think there will be teams relocating soon? Seattle? Last, could the new countract agreement (when finished) determine if teams move or not?
Erik; It's a shame what's happening with Oilers ownership and the local government over a new arena deal. But I see no way the Oilers leave town. NHL won't stand for it and I'll be surprised if we won't see Gary Bettman taking an active role in smoothing things out there. Regardless of the public opinion he's proven historically adept at deal-making when things look bleak as they did in Buffalo, Ottawa, Pittsburgh etc.
Is players being able to play in olympics one the discussions they had last week? and do u think they will be allowed?
george; I don't think it's come up yet but my sense is (and international hockey folks I've spoken to as recently as a few days ago) believe the NHL will be back at Sochi. Owners don't like it and there are issues but in the end it's the greatest stage in sport and the NHL has become a huge part of the Winter Olympic theater. I think it would be a shame if the NHL bows out but I don't think that's going to happen.
Scott, we have three NHL gents signed and playing for the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. Brandon Dubinsky, Nate Thompson and Joey Crabb. Scott Gomez decided not to play this time around (unlike 05, 06 lockout). I just wanted to throw a shout out to our local guys and all local NHLrs who return home to play for their friends and family!
Nate; Here you go. Wonder how the guys that might otherwise have a job playing for the Aces feel but I get why guys want to go home and there's certainly not a lot of money to be made playing at the CHL level for the NHL guys.
With the lockout coming to and end soon (hopefully) lets get back to talking actual hockey. What are the chances that my Kings make it back-to-back cup titles this year?
Mike; Love your optimism. I like the Kings' chances very much given how GM Dean Lombardi has built this team. Still, history tells us it's virtually impossible to repeat so the reality is that the road is hard and mostly uphill. For me it will be whether the Kings can continue to get good, balanced scoring and give themselves a cushion on a playoff spot unlike last year where they had to come from back in the pack. That takes a toll and a similar slow start I think would significantly hurt the Kings' chance of a repeat.
I wish they would go to a shorter schedule anyways. 82 games is too many and am I the only one who finds it stupid to be playing hockey in June?
Marc; No. I think many believe a 72 game slate would be best in terms of shortening the season and increasing the chances of teams being healthy come playoff time. But with salaries tied to revenues now there's no way either side will back off an 82-game slate. In fact I think it's one of the significant elements of the league's proposal; everyone gets a full schedule which means full pay whatever that pay system looks like in a new CBA.
Any idea if a new deal would speed up the Phoenix sale?
Mike; No, the Coyotes' sale is on its own track (some might say in it's own universe) and will either get done or not independent of the CBA talks. I think it does get done, though, by the end of November.
If there is a season in the coming months, how do you feel about the New York Rangers Moving forward with there huge roster changes? also do you see Rick Nash's injury which occurred in Sweden playing a role in his 2012-2013 season if the lockout is resolved?
Anthony; Hard not to put the Rangers at or very near the top of the Eastern Conference standings assuming that both Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik aren't hampered long-term by injuries. Gaborik's injury would be the most troubling in terms of when he might make an impact on the Ranger line-up. That said, great young blue line that is only going to get better, terrific goaltending, coaching and now a forward arsenal with Gaborik, Brad Richards and Nash plus an emerging Chris Kreider? Nice.
Can Jagr elevate Loui Erikkson and Jamie Benn the same way he did with Giroux and Hartnell
Justin; The Stars sure hope so. Both Benn and Eriksson are terrific talents but having a productive Jagr not to mention the ageless Ray Whitney should help a power play that really struggled last year and was a key factor in the Stars missing the playoffs. I know Jagr was much-loved in that Flyer locker room for his work ethic and his attitude even if he did start to break down as the season/playoffs wore on. No doubt in my mind the Stars will feel the same.
Hey Scott, pick the Top 5 prospects that are coming into the pros this year that you would take to start a team?
Cody; Okay, I'll give you five guys I can't wait to watch and see if that covers it for you; Mikael Granlund (Minnesota), Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), Justin Schultz (Edmonton), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida) and Dougie Hamilton (Boston).
Do you think they will cancel the All Star game to fit an 82 game season in?
Durkin; I don't know if the NHL can fit both a full slate of games starting Nov. 2 in and still have an All-Star break. Safe to say the game in Columbus is in jeopardy. It's believed teams were asked to submit dates that could serve as make-up dates for games already missed and some of those dates were reportedly during what would have been All-Star weekend.
If we have a Nov. 2 start date, do you think the schedule stays pretty much as-is from Nov. 2 on, with the extra games being added in, or would the league throw the existing schedule out the window and come up with something completely different, like the NBA did last year?
Bill; My understanding is the league would take the existing sked from Nov. 2 on and then backfill based on availability throughout the season to make up the earlier games that were missed.
Scott, provided the two sides can come to an agreement on the CBA, what do you think the chances of Ovie staying overseas is? As a long-time devoted Caps fan, I would be distraught if he didn't come back. Sure, the Caps have other great players and Ovie has declined somewhat the past couple of years, but it just wouldn't be the same!
Craig; Ovie will be back. Take that to the bank. Or rather Ted Leonsis's bank.
Scott, should I assume you'll be giving the Devils no love like you have for the past decade+? Let me guess, not enough scoring? Questioning Brodeur's health? Can't get over the loss of a star player? Same predicition from you this year with the same "I told you so" to be delivered in the spring?
JD; Think I picked the Devils to upend the Rangers in the conference final. And to beat L.A. in the final (ouch). Hard to know what the Devils will be like this season, though, with the loss of Parise. Still, Larsson and Henrique are getting some games under their belt at the AHL level and the goaltending should be solid. How about somewhere between 5-10?
Call me an optimist but I like the Hawks to win the Central. How do you see division winners shaking out in the west?
Tron; The'Hawks better get more consistent goaltending than they did in the playoffs if they're going to keep St. Louis, Detroit and Nashville at bay. Like St. Louis, Los Angeles and Vancouver in the west.
No Love for Sven Beartchie in your top 5 prospects? all that guy does is score goals! Including 3 in 5 games in the Show last winter!
Rob; Have no gripe with Sven. In fact if Baertschi can make a significant offensive impact then the Flames may be one of those dark horse teams looking to shoulder their way into the post-season.
Do you know how to use a semi-colon? It doesn't look like it
Brian; Will admit I rely on spellcheck for semi-colon reminders. Will try and do better next time; or not.
Scott: Any hope in Columbus this year, now since weve lost another superstar in Ohio? I got season tickets with all-star game, any positive to look forward to other then the new big HD Scoreboard at Nationwide arena?
Jason; Honestly? No. I don't see how the Blue Jackets are anything but a draft lottery team once again. It would take a perfect storm of coaching, career years from mid-level veterans and a bunch of youngsters jumping up the curve for the Blue Jackets to have a shot at the playoffs. In fact I see almost no way in which they can finish out of last place in the Central let alone in the top 8 in the west. But that scoreboard does look pretty impressive.
What do you think of the Bruins chances this season? Can Tuukka be a solid #1?
Eric; I still like the Bruins to win the Northeast. Great depth up front and along the blue line. But if Rask stumbles it will put pressure on Peter Chiarelli to find an answer with an eye to getting the team on another long playoff run. Maybe he's ready to grow into that role although my gut tells me it could be a bit of a bumpy ride.
Do you think the Islanders will get themselves out of the basement this year (assuming there is a season)? Could this be the year that they finally make the playoffs again?
Brian; Lots of things to like about the Isles starting with John Tavares's ascending to elite status. Can the blue line evolve and give the goaltending better protection? Is Nabokov really the answer? At risk of infuriating (further?) Devils fans is there another team other than New Jersey the Isles are really capable of overhauling? Not the Rangers, Penguins or Flyers unless Ilya Bryzgalov really goes off the rails (okay, I'll add it; again).
Any hope for Lightning this year? Is Stamkos ready to lead a Stanley Cup run?
Stephen; There certainly is. One of the most interesting teams in one of the most interesting divisions. If Anders Lindback is capable of shouldering a significant workload and I'm guessing 45 to 50 games as a starter coming over from Nashville where he learned alongside Pekka Rinne, the Bolts should be back in the playoffs and should challenge Washington, Carolina and Florida for the division title.
Hey, that was a ton of fun. Real hockey talk. Let's hope when we reconvene next week we're talking training camp and this will be on for real. Thanks for dropping by.