Greetings from New York City where we await the next salvo in the lockout talks between the NHLPA and NHL owners. Flanked by the Queen of the Lockout Katie Strang and the Labor King Pierre LeBrun in the media work room. Now, where were we?
I was beginning to get excited until I heard Fehr and Bettman are back at the table today. Will they kill the momentum?
James; Well even though the two were absent discussions the last two days their presence has been felt and it was only a matter of time until the two returned to the fray. And it's a fair question given the tenuous nature of the talks at this point whether their presence upsets the delicate balance that exists. I say no but I've been pretty much dead wrong on every lockout prediction thus far.
Is this the day?! Do you think they will reach a deal in the near future?
Ryan; I do think this is 'the day' maybe not for a deal but to tell us whether a deal remains a possibility. The players are meeting internally right now and their response to the owners' last offer/proposal last night (actually early this morning) will be key to determining whether talks fizzle or move forward.
If this set of meetings ends with no agreement is the season doomed? If it is doomed, what would the NHL look like when it came back in 2013-2014, specifically what type of reception would the sponsors, TV and fans give?
Howard; My take is that if things end ugly today then it will be hard to pick up the pieces in time to salvage even a part of the current season. As for what another lost season might do to the NHL landscape that's the great unknown and the scary part of what both sides are flirting with. My guess is that fans and sponsors resist the natural impulse to return to the game unconditionally. Of course most of us believed that would be the case seven years ago at the end of the last lockout and fans came back in record numbers. Go figure.
Could cooler heads not have prevailed earlier? The Bettman-Fehr match was destined for trouble early on.
Randy; Certainly this has been a textbook case of how not to undertake a labor negotiation and while much of the blame lands on the owners and their strategy from the get-go both sides share in the fact that a deal hasn't yet been reached given that all the elements for the deal are there.
if a deal is reached this week or soon how many regular season games can we expect?
mark; I believe we would be looking at a week from the time a tentative deal is announced to a completed deal with ratification and then a one-week training camp so roughly 14 days from the announcement of a tentative deal.
If this lockout drags on longer, do you think it jeopardizes the Jamison ownership deal with the Coyotes?
Paul; No. Completely separate and my impression is that if things go according to plan (and what has ever gone wrong with the plans in Glendale?) the deal could/should be done by mid-January.
The most frustrating thing about this whole process is that all of these negotiations could have occurred over the summer and a new agreement in place well before the season. I for one will continue to be a fan and watch games - from the comfort of my couch and home and will likely not be spending any of my money on the insanely high ticket and food prices to go to any of the games.
Keith; That has been a complaint of the owners for some time the delaying tactics employed by Donald Fehr and the NHLPA. But he felt he wasn't ready to go when the league wanted to and so much time was wasted getting to this point.
With the NHLPA meeting as long as they are, do you think fans have reason to be excited? or dread the coming responce?
Matt; I will be shocked if the two sides don't get back to it at some point this afternoon. It will be bad news if they don't (he says, stating the obvious).
put aside optimism/pessimism... brass facts. does a deal get done in the coming days (week)?
danny; Yes. I think we're playing hockey by the end of the month if not before Christmas.
Is it clear that all of the owners are unified on what is being negotiated now? Is it possible that a split exists among owners that could wreck progress being made?
Ron; I think it's fair to say there are varying degress of support for where talks have gone this week. For instance I think there are some owners (my guess would be Jeremy Jacobs and other hard-liners) who feel that offering $300 million in make-whole money even with the conditions attached by the league is too much. But I think the real danger is that if the players push back too hard on the offer from last night the moderates will lose the room and owners will walk away.
Which team do you think has been hurt most by the lockout? Would be rookie players, veterans who have had their career ended a year short, unpopular teams, etc.
Mark; So hard to tell. Easier to say which teams have been helped liked Edmonton which has so many young players in the AHL getting valuable experience like Justin Schultz who has been terrific for Oklahoma City. I think this hurts teams like St. Louis, Los Angeles and New Jersey who are coming off strong playoffs and could have taken advantage of that to make gains in terms of fan support etc.
Hey Scott, I was listening to TSN last night when they brought up an interesting point. They were talking about how owners whose teams are struggling might not want to get a deal done due to the draft lottery that would be instituted. Teams would bank on landing a Sidney Crosby or Bobby Ryan like was done that year. Do you see anything in this claim?
Joe; Interesting theory but I don't think that plays into whether a deal gets done or not. I don't think there's an owner that doesn't want to get at least part of a season in even if it means not getting a shot at a guy like Seth Jones.
If Lebrun is the King and Strang is the Queen, what does that make you? Jester?
Andy; Stable boy?
Non lockout question: any health update on the Rangers' Marion Gaborik?Thanks.
Mac; Last I saw Gaborik was continuing rehab from shoulder surgery but wasn't taking contact. Obviously when talking about teams who benefit from the lockout the Rangers are one that will be hoping Gaborik will be close to game-ready when the league resumes. I think most people believe the Rangers are one of the top one or two clubs in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Rick Nash and Gaborik's health will be crucial to keeping the Rangers at or near the top of the conference standings.
So how many games do you think we'll play? 50?
Dave; I am guessing closer to 60, maybe 58.
If they do get a deal done, how hard do you think it will be get the schedule together. Aren't some of the arenas already booking additional events to try and make up some revenue?
was I smart in signing parise and suter knowing I will get a rollback in contracts?
Sorry, this is to Mark's question first;Mark; Not sure how the schedule would look. In 1994-95 when the NHL played a 48-game slate they just played conference opponents. Not sure if a slightly bigger schedule allows for some out of conference play or not.
Craig; Okay, now you Mr. Leipold. Not sure if it was smart but it was more than a little dishonest if you did those deals knowing or hoping you wouldn't have to pay them in full. That said the league's last make whole offer will take players a lot closer to guaranteeing the existing deals including those whopper ones to which you signed Parise and Suter.
Just a quick update. Sounds like the players and the owners have made contact and will meet later this afternoon.
If the deal in the Jameson Gleandale falls through. Could the Coyotes move to Quibec City in the near future. Also would that help the minor team the Portland Pirates build a better relationship with their NHL parent team
Andrew; I would think Quebec City and Seattle would be the front-runners to become the new home of the Coyotes if the Jamison deal falls apart. My sense is the NHL would love to explore Seattle especially having lost Atlanta, a major U.S. media market. To lose two (Phoenix being the second) would be a black eye for the league so my gut tells me if there's a way to get an NHL team in on a new arena deal that appears to be moving forward in Seattle that would be the NHL's preference. But with a new arena in the works in Quebec City it does offer a ready-made market that the league and its players could count on for strong revenues.
60 games in a seemingly condensed season would hurt veteran (read: older) teams more, no? This is the fluke year my Isles break through! Ask EA Sports simulation!
Joe; You could be right. Not sure on the goaltending but the offense should be there and the defense is better than people think. Think of 2005-06 and how Carolina, Buffalo, Edmonton and Anaheim emerged out of nowhere to become powers. Maybe a short season helps the Isles.
Thoughts on realignment being tossed into the mix before things are all said and done? I'd love it if MN wasn't playing late games out West every other night for the next 10 years..
Matt; Realignment not on the table right now although the league is looking at asking for control over a number of issues including realignment but it wouldn't take effect until next season. And look for the Wild to move into what would essentially be an expanded Central Division with Winnipeg in there too.
Do you think that Ovechkin and Backstrom playing together in Russia give them any advantage since training camp would be relatively short if a deal gets done? Or are they so familiar with each other that its not an issue? Will Oates bring them back to there 2007-2010 numbers?
Dustin; I don't think it can hurt but I think Adam Oates may be a bigger catalyst to a return to peak production for the two than their shared experience in the KHL. I don't know if Ovechkin gets to 60 goals again but I would be surprised if he's not flirting with 50 again. And for me Backstrom remains a top five center in the NHL.
Upon resumption of play, who is hurt worse by the lockout/short camp in terms of preparation/readiness: Goalies or Players?
Greg; I think a lot of factors come into play like age and what they've been doing during the lockout. Does Martin Brodeur take longer to get into a groove than say Cory Schneider or Semyon Varlamov who got some playing time in Europe? You would have to think that would be the case. Not sure it matters the position.
Is expansion/relocation being discussed at all in these meetings?
Brian; Not that I'm aware of. Phoenix is really the only market that's in imminent danger of moving (I don't count the Islanders who will be moving into Brooklyn when their lease expires on Long Island). And expansion isn't on the horizon.
How will a shorter training camp really affect these guys conditioning and do you feel this makes them more susceptible to injury?
Steve; Huge concern for coaches I've spoken to and I know most are working with their trainers to figure out how to prepare for a week-long training camp and how to best protect against groin and core body strain issues with a compressed schedule. Seems inevitable there would be an uptick in those kinds of injuries if the game does return.
Do you think Bettmen will give Columbus the all star next year or just pass it on?
Kkilla17; Not sure how the rotation would work as there isn't likely to be an All Star Game next year with the Olympics in Sochi. But Columbus will get back in the loop very quickly if past history is any indication. Guessing 2014 or 2015.
Is there any chance at all that the Winter Classic can still be salvaged? (Could a date in February be a possibility?)
Hugh; Sorry. The Winter Classic is cooked until next year.
What do you think Pittsburgh will do with its blueline moving forward? So many promising young prospects (Morrow - Despres - Pouiliot - Matta- Harrington) but also have Lovejoy Engelland Niskanen who provide value. Letang and Orpik wont be going anywhere but Paul Martin could go on the block. Would they risk packaging some youth for a winger for 87? Only 6 spots on that blueline - whats Shero going to do?
James; Definitely a stockpiling of defensive prospects in Pittsburgh and it does appear that Paul Martin would be an asset GM Ray Shero would look at trying to move assuming he feels one or two of those players you mentiioned would be ready to make the jump. I am a big Paul Martin fan and I know he struggled last year but injuries were a factor and I can see him bouncing back nicely this season whether it's as a Penguin or somewhere else.
Given that the winter classic is gone - if the season is salvaged do you think HBO will try and do something similar to 24/7?
Matt; I wouldn't be surprised to see HBO re-emerge with something related to the playoffs maybe a weekly show during the playoffs or an inside look at the playoff push late in the regular season. Huge loss for the NHL (and fans) if they disappear completely this season (or beyond).
Have any high end - medium tier players signed any deals internationally that do not allow them to immediately leave and return to their respective NHL clubs?
Ryan; My understanding is that any player with an NHL contract would be required to return to the NHL once the lockout is resolved. Teams in Europe in theory would not be able to employ any player with an NHL contract according to IIHF rules governing the honoring of contracts.
Does a 1-2 week training camp mean deeper teams like Boston and New York etc. are less likely to have enough time to see if their young players are NHL ready? Do you think they just go with the muckers and grinders and wait on the young talent until next year?
Bill; Good question. Not even sure how the camps would work vis a vis clubs looking at players that are currently playing in the AHL or major junior hockey. Definitely lots of decisions made on the fly by coaches and GMs. Not sure if would preclude younger players from making teams in fact guys that are playing well in the AHL may have a leg up on older fringe players.
Continuing Ryan's question earlier, should we expect a delay for some of the overseas players to return to North America? I could see 1-2 weeks at the beginning where guys would start returning and some would be missing games.
Paul; I would think players won't miss any time coming back from Europe. There will be enough lead time that they should get their affairs in order and head back to North America.
Are there any "quality" FA still available? And my 8 year old still doesn't understand how they are not playing hockey, he doesn't understand collective bargaining yet.
Mike; Tell your son he's not alone. Depends on how you define quality but guys like Mike Knuble, Mike Commodore, Steve Montador, Chris Campoli, Dominic Moore, Jason Arnott, Andrew Brunette are ones that come to mind right away. Much greater percentage of players under contract during this lockout than in the last one.
Scott what are you hearing on Claude being ready to play if season starts soon? Also, any reason why Snyder has been removed from talks?
Drew; Claude Giroux's agent Pat Brisson has indicated that his injury is nothing serious and so I would expect him to be ready to play. And you're right Ed Snider has definitely taken a lower profile this time around. Not sure why and there is a theory that he is much more moderate this time around. Maybe it's a function of age and wanting his team back on the ice in the hopes they can end their Stanley Cup drought.
The Kings are returning every player from last season's championship team ... would that give them any form of advantage for a shortened season?
Larry; One would think a shortened season may mitigate the inevitable Stanley Cup hangover. And having a deep, talented squad that knows how to win is never a bad thing. Very strong squad that has to be considered along with St. Louis and Vancouver the top teams in the conference.
Scott how much of this talk of the Pens owners/Crosby being the real drivers of these current talks? Also, does this long layoff make it any more possible Pronger could maybe return or is that wishful thinking?
Drew; No question earlier this week owner Ron Burkle, Sidney Crosby and Crosby's agent Pat Brisson were key in getting things going with the leaderless talks. As for Chris Pronger sadly wishful thinking. Would love to see him back on the ice given his personality and his impact on the game but hard to imagine that happening given his ongoing symptoms.
If everyone in the press room started signing and swaying to Kumbaya loudly enough do you think it might help get a deal done?
Joe; More likely it would get the police called. But at this stage willing to try anything.
If a deal is struck, and since hockey is a lot more unpredicatable then basketball in my opinion, do you see a perennial contender from the past few years winning the cup in a shortened season like the Heat last year? Or do you see a cinderella team winning this shortened season?
Dustin; I think a shortened season allows for more variables. Long season means water rises or sinks to its own level. So a team like Edmonton for instance could get on a roll and create havoc in the playoff races. I know it wasn't a shortened season but many folks loved Vancouver coming out of the last lockout with Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi et al and they fell apart and missed the playoffs entirely. Not quite an entirely level playing field but short season gives us something like that.
Okay folks. Here's hoping that as we close this chat it is the last of the 2012 lockout. Next week let's talk training camp and rosters and real games. Until then.