Greetings all. Fresh from my trip to Toronto and the annual Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies I wish I had better news on the labor front. But that shall not deter us from kicking around some puck topics today. Now, where were we?
Do you feel both sides are just posturing hoping for the other side to blink first or are they really going to blow up another season over $400M & player contract rights?
Bill; Definitely think we're still in the posturing stage of the proceedings. Pretty discouraging from the get-go but even more so given that all the tools to get a deal done appear to be in the same room. Too bad the playes and owners can't find a way to get in that room with those tools. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week. Or, well, someday.
Scott thanks for taking the time to chat. Katie Strang wrote today that Judge Arthur Boylan wanted to take a crack at mediating the talks between the NHL and NHLPA. With both sides basically acting like 5 year olds and can't agree on anything (even when to talk) do you think it's time to call in some help with the discussions? If so how long would you think it would take to complete? Neither side is going to be happy with the end deal at this point so why not get some help to get a deal done and get to playing hockey?
Mike; Katie's piece was terrific and it was interesting to hear from someone whose job is to bring too sides together (as he did with the NFL and the NFLPA) and who is also a huge hockey fan (and Wild season ticketholder). My sense is, however, that neither side wants to trust a third party to broker a deal. Ego, fear that their respective positions might be revealed as faulty are among the reasons I will be shocked if there is ever a third party brought in even though it seems counter-intuitive if both sides really want to get a deal done.
Hi, Scott...As they say, it's always darkest before....it goes pitch black. And that's where it seems like we're heading here. Do you think Fehr TRULY has the best interests of his constituants at hand, or does he have other more personal motives?
Rocky; I don't think there's any reason to question Fehr's motives in this dispute. He knew what he was signing on for and the players sure knew what they were getting when they hired him. Now, I think it's fair to question his strategies especially as we edge closer to another lost season. Funny how folks have savaged Commissioner Gary Bettman for years because he's not a 'hockey guy' yet Fehr is far less of a hockey guy and yet he's in charge of the players' futures. And he's not a long-term solution for the players either. Does that impact how he approaches this dispute? Hard to tell. One thing is certain NHLPA is in pretty same place they were eight years ago; locked out with no end in sight. How does that happen?
I'm hearing a lot of sentiment that both sides are really not that far apart. Will this translate into anything concrete?
Alex; I believe that is exactly true. But to get back in the same room and for one side - the owners insist they are waiting for the PA to bring something new to the table - to make some sort of step towards the middle is crucial to starting the dominos falling. I think there is wiggle room on both sides but it's important only if someone shows that such wiggle room exists in the form of some new proposal or dialogue.
I have given hope on seeing hockey this year...a season with less then 60 games isn't really worth playing. On a different note, what do you think about the Panthers and the group of young guys they have coming into the system?
Dara; I remain modestly optimistic (down from just plain old optimistic a week ago) but as for the Panthers I am bullish on what GM Dale Tallon and his staff have got going on in South Florida. Terrific group of young prospects that represent potential cornerstone players at every position and a nice collection of veterans and leaders. Have a lot of time for Brian Campbell who is a big part of creating a winning identity in Florida. If you throw Roberto Luongo into the mix if/when a season starts would be a great battle for Southeast with Washington, Carolina and Tampa. One of the sad parts of this lockout is the Panthers' having to wait to try and build on the momentum of last year's surprise run to the top of the Southeast. What a waste.
When all the dust settles and we are finnally playing hockey again (hopefully this season) where does Jason Arnott end up?
Justin; Got to figure if there is a short season a guy like Jason Arnott becomes more attractive (less chance for him to break down as there is in a full schedule, at least in theory). Problem for him is that he's not the kind of guy that's going to get a second go-round in many places so am assuming it would have to be a new squad. What about Montreal? Still looking for a little size up front. Or maybe a team like Boston where size and experience are always welcome. Have to figure cost won't be a big factor.
keep up the good work covering the lockout (even though its probably more painful for you than us fans)... in almost every article i read about the lockout it talks about the "irreparable damage" and the "future of the game at stake" do you see these as true statements? and do you feel the owners and players see this as well or do they just see no long term consequences?.
Will; Weird as I was writing about this very topic this morning. Eight years ago we all wrote about how the game was going to be in a deep, dark hole for many years and of course the opposite happened. Still, this time around the dynamics are so different. No Shanahan Summit to change the product on the ice, no Crosby or Ovechkin to light up the rinks, just a lot of angry, resentful fans and sponsors sick of a league that cannot or will not get its act together. Now, will the damage be irreparable or dramatically alter the NHL's future? Hard to tell but I do know top people in the game believe hard days are ahead especially if we do see another season go by the boards.
In your opinion, what would it take for a couple of rich guys to rent a couple arena's, get some players and put on a game or two...? basically, start another league...??? Far fetched I know, but come on...
Ed; Too many variables; salary, who would play, how many teams, travel costs, television, etc. etc. to see it actually happening. Remember when there was talk of a league last lockout and it fell to pieces in a heartbeat.
Scott, from my understanding Craig Leipold is looking to get the Wild into the Central Division. I think that this is a great idea and would be very beneficial to my team. I was wondering if the reallignment of the confrences/divisions has been talked about at all in the negotionations? What are both sides thinking, NHL and NHLPA, concerning the reallignment if they are talking about it at all? What will the reallignment look like? What are your thoughts?
Kyle; Realignment per se hasn't been discussed as the league still believes it has the right to divide up the teams as they see fit without engaging the players in debate (although the players do believe they can halt realignment as they did during the board of governors meetings in California last December). The NHL is still leaning towards a four-conference system with two conferences of 8 and two of 7 teams. The plan for the Wild was to move in with the Central Division teams plus Winnipeg and Dallas which makes sense in terms of travel and historic rivalries.
Anyone interested in Scott Gomez once the season starts? He scored a goal and an assist last night for the Alaska Aces. I am looking for a 7th round pick in return or future considerations. PS, his salary drops to $5.5M this season & $4.5M next season with a higher cap hit, a nice little benefit for you clubs trying to stay near the cap floor and save some money. ;)
Marc; Good luck with that. Is it true you have been picketing the NHL offices with a sign that reads; 'Salary Amnesty Now'?
Who currently in the NHL would you most compare Nate MacKinnon to in terms of style of play? Will he be better than Seth Jones when all is said and done?
Steve; I haven't seen MacKinnon play in person but it's going to be fascinating to see how his season goes especially when considered with Seth Jones who scouts are drooling about and are considering a potential first overall pick. Great story for USA Hockey given Jones's background (his dad of course was a former NBA player and assistant coach). Of course when Edmonton gets the first overall pick again my guess is they'll draft the defenseman. Ha, ha, just kidding Oiler fans. Sort of.
Scott, how do you see this lockout effecting the Ducks effort to resign Perry and Getzlaf?
Stu; I think it will depend on what kinds of restrictions are put on teams in terms of contract length and where the cap is (same for all teams I guess) but with both players coming off disappointing campaigns and both headed to unrestricted free agency at the end of this season it's a bit of a poker game. Both are big-time talents but for a team that has to watch every penny what kind of term is best for the team? And if you're Getzlaf or Perry are you convinced the team can get back to contender status knowing the marketplace will be crowded with suitors if they become UFAs? No doubt GM Bob Murray will be looking to peddle at least one of them if the Ducks got off to a slow start to a truncated season. Of course, Ducks get off to a fast start they have all the tools to be a contender so that would change the dynamic on all fronts. Be nice to have that discussion about 35 games into a season wouldn't it?
Who's your sleeper team in the East. I'm hoping the Canes can push for the SE crown
Brent; Agreed on the 'Canes being a viable Southeast Division contender. Love Kirk Muller and what he's doing with a Carolina squad that should be even better with Jordan Staal and (in theory) and motivated Alexander Semin. Other east teams to watch? Curious to see if the added size and toughness get the Sabres back in the hunt in the Northeast and were the Senators for real a year ago? They were 'that close' to beating the Rangers in the first round. Sometimes tough to replicate that when the expectations are higher. And what about an Islander team that doesn't have to answer questions about a new home anymore and can maybe sneak up on the big boys in the Atlantic. Need to find out about what the deal is for Islander goaltending but lots of interesting pieces there.
Scott, wrote something similar to Pierre yesterday. If this season does actually happen I don't see why any fan would show up to games. I feel that any time or money I invest at this point just shows the league that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as often as they want and I'll still come back wanting more. Lockout or not, it's time for the fans to take a stand and show how we won't stand for it. I hope the league does try to come back and they realize how much of a fan base their losing. Maybe once the summer rolls around and they figure out how to make this up to its former die-hard fans, then perhaps I'll start investing in the game again--maybe.
JD; Have mixed feelings on this. Lots of people have already lost too much with the lockout whether its restaurants and bars, parking lot attendants, waitresses, ushers, people who can't afford to take a year off like players and owners. So if the game comes back yes, it would be nice if the owners and players learned some sort of lesson about taking fans for granted. But there are other issues too. Tough one given the disregard both sides have for the fans.
Scott, the Capitals owned the Southeast division for several years before last year but still haven't had much success in the playoffs. They lost Semin in the off-season but still have a lot of core players who are in their prime or maybe haven't even hit their prime yet. With a much improved Southeast division, do you think the Caps are a Stanley Cup contender now and for years to come, or has their window of opportunity passed?
Kevin; Got a chance to spend some time with Adam Oates in Hershey before his induction in the Hall of Fame and was impressed with his vision for the Caps. For me it's about getting Alexander Ovechkin back into elite groove if that's possible. If Oates can get him back to that mindset where he's a threat every shift the Caps are back at the top of the division and again a Cup contender. Great young kids on the blue line and looks like loads of young goaltending talent. Mike Ribeiro will fill in nice for Semin. That said I think a lot more balance in the Southeast than there has been for many years with Tampa (I think I missed them in last question about SE) if their goaltending woes are solved by Anders Lindback, the 'Canes and Florida. Should be fun. If, well, you know, if there's a season.
Is the KHL breaking mr. universe? He's got a losing record and GAA of almost 3. Should I be worried.. err, should I be more worried than I already was about the Flyers goalie and his "humongous big" contract?
Steve; You speak, of course, of Ilya Bryzgalov. I don't know that you can ever really judge how a player plays anywhere in Europe with how he may play in the NHL. Different game, different dynamics, pressures (or lack thereof). I expect Bryzgalov will be better next time around in the NHL at least during the regular season. The issue remains whether he can find a gear or a focus that will allow him to succeed in the playoffs something he simply hasn't done. No answer for that one yet. In a perfect world we see the Flyers and Penguins go at it again in the first round next April just to see how a Bryzgalov/Fleury clash turns out.
Whatever the outcome of these negotiations, is there any reason to believe there won't be another lockout when the terms of this CBA expire? In other words, is this an every 8 year thing?
Carlo; Great question and you can bet that's what sponsors and/or broadcasters will be asking themselves when contracts with NHL come up again. Spoke to a top executive who said he thought it imperative that the new deal was at least 10 years in length to prevent this cloud from gathering for at least the forseeable future. But that's the NHL's legacy; don't negotiate lock out.
Scott,Do you think having a Stanley Cup ring should be a determining factor in a player's admittance to the Hockey Hall of Fame or should the honor be based on more individualistic achievements?
Matthew; Great debate after the induction ceremonies Monday night with some writers about that very topic. I think it has to be a significant factor along with whether a player was ever the best or among the best at his position in the league for a period of time. For instance how do you judge Chris Osgood (three rings and 10th all time in wins) versus Curtis Joseph who has no rings but is fourth all time in wins? Or Eric Lindros who never won a ring but did have international success and was an MVP. Interesting that three of the four inductees this past weekend didn't win a Cup; Oates, Bure and Sundin. Funny, Oates told me he wouldn't have traded his 19-year career and all the experiences that came with it for a ring. Thought that was interesting.
I think when they do finally come back, we/the fans should pick a day in each home arena and stage tour own "fan lock-out". Skip one game in mass and send the message that the fans are the ones who really count. Without them the whole system goes bust
Tom; Might be interesting. Pick a day, go to the local bar, restaurant or just sit outside on a bench and read ESPN.com hockey pages or something like that.
Which Canadian team do you think will be the first to raise the cup for the first time in almost 20 years? As a Canucks fan, it pains me to think that Edmonton will be the first team to win it given the immense amount of young, hungry talent that they've been stockpiling for being the leagues doormat team for such a long time.
Nick; Here's how I would handicap the chances of the Cup returning to Canada.Vancouver (window closing in the next couple of years)OttawaEdmontonMontrealCalgaryTorontoWinnipegHonestly, though? Outside the Canucks hard to imagine any of the seven teams making a significant run at a Cup anytime soon.
Scott, the CBJ are sixth!... in the EA Sports simulation of the Western Conference. If we get a deal and there is actual hockey, can you see to it that the EA Simulation is run through the entire season? I don't think I'll get to see my team as high as sixth in any real life form.
Ham; The Blue Jackets' AHL team in Springfield is lighting it up, too. Am hoping to talk to Curtis McElhinney later today. Maybe all hope is not lost for the Blue Jackets. EA or no EA.
Scott, with the recent HOF ceremony just completed I thought I'd ask a hypothetical. If Pavel Bure played in today's NHL with no clutching, holding and most important no red line, how amazing would he be? His highlight reel is still fun to watch!
Ryan; I am with you. Seeing his highlight package a number of times over the weekend revealed why he was a good choice to go in the Hall.
Okay folks, time to close down the shop for another week. I remain ever confident that one week we will sign on here and talk about training camps and rookie sensations and Norris Trophy candidates. Until then. Be well. Stay safe.