Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 17, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Katie Strang

Katie Strang
  (3:00 PM)

...And, we're back.Another week has passed with no resolution in sight. In fact, the battle appears to be getting uglier as the sides head to court to duke it out.Fair warning, my legal knowledge is limited, but I'll give it my best shot.With that said, fire away!

Andy (MI)

Are the players and owners really this foolish, or is this just a pressure tactic?

Katie Strang
  (3:03 PM)

Think it's a little of both, Andy. It's absurd to think that, with how close the two sides truly are, a deal has not been made. Furthermore, the two sides aren't even negotiating right now! That is foolish, but yes, this is likely a pressure tactic from each side. Both sides want to make a deal and know it needs to be done soon, but neither one wants to capitulate at this point

Matt (South Jersey)

If this gets to court, how do you see this playing out? I think that the most interesting point that the NHL made was the one about the fact that there are other professional hockey leagues that the players are currently playing in. Did the players damage their own cause by playing in Europe?

Katie Strang
  (3:05 PM)

If this ever reaches the point of litigation, you can count on the season being over. Perhaps next year's as well. This type of lawsuit requires a tremendous amount of time and resources to see through. I still think that's unlikely, though. And yes, there is likely some anti-monopoly merit in arguing that the European leagues are still destinations for pro hockey players, but I think the NHLPA could make pretty reasonable counter-arguments against as well

Jared (Music City)

Do you think a 5 year limit on contracts will really hurt the middle class? Wouldn't the players want smaller terms so they hit the market sooner?

Katie Strang
  (3:07 PM)

Yes, I do think it would hurt the middle class. And considering this issue applies to such a small group of players -- I believe 12% of NHL players sign contracts of five years or more -- I find it ridiculous that this is an issue that the NHL will "die on the hill" for.

Tim (Tampa)

If the players do away with the union what keeps the NHL from opening the season, honor current contracts, but set the rules as they see fit going forward operating as 30 independant busineses?

Katie Strang
  (3:09 PM)

Because the whole reason the NHL has imposed this lockout is because of the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. They won't play without one. And you can't make on unilaterally. It needs to be brokered between the league and the union

tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]

I'm going to put this as bluntly as possible. Are both sides stupid enough to waste another season? Because at this point if these "great minds" can't figure out how to split three BILLION dollars worth of revenue, stupidity is the only word that is applicable.

Katie Strang
  (3:11 PM)

This, I think, is the prevailing sentiment among fans right now and it's pretty hard to argue against. The fact that the puck has not dropped seems to defy all logic. But, when egos become factors in negotiation, sometimes logic and reason go out the window. My best answer is that we can only hope they realize the catastrophe that another loss season would cause. Alienate fans, lose money...what's the upside?

Glen (Chicago)

Can you point me to a site or break down the issues that are causing the lockout? It is a bit hard to follow and was hoping you can break it down

Katie Strang
  (3:14 PM)

The absolute best person to follow right now to help navigate all the legal complexities is TSN's labor law expert Eric Macramalla. He does a really good job breaking down all the latest developments and the legal implications. His most recent article is a must-read if your head is spinning (like mine) after last Friday: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=411804

Chatardio (Chatopia)

If the NHL wins its lawsuit against the NHLPA, would that allow for the NHL to hire scabs until a new CBA agreement was signed by the NHL and NHLPA?

Katie Strang
  (3:14 PM)

I don't see any scenario under which "scabs" will be used, No.

David (NYC)

When are both sides going to stop the games and make the deal that both sides will agree to?

Katie Strang
  (3:15 PM)

My guess? Early January. Mid-January at the latest. I'd be very surprised if deal gets done before then.

Reilly (New York)

Why do both sides feel the need to go to court instead of getting back to negotiating? Yes, I get both sides have offered as much as they can, but can't they find a way to deal with each other instead of wasting time in court?

Katie Strang
  (3:17 PM)

Both sides don't necessarily want to go to court. What the NHL did last Friday was a pre-emptive strike. They anticipated the NHLPA's potential disclaimer of interest and took a defensive measure as a result. The options always remains for the two sides to negotiate. And I believe that is far more likely to happen than this actually reaching the courts

Lou (Pittsburgh)

With recent reports of the Canucks and Ryan Kessler's representatives publicly disagreeing on the status and timetable of Kessler's rehab/return from injury, is this the first in a long line of similar disagreements we can expect since injured players are still getting paid?

Katie Strang
  (3:18 PM)

Not sure I'd say "long line" but I'm sure there are more than a few cases of guys being extra-precatious with injuries these days...

Mike (Saint Paul)

How 'afraid' are the owners right now?? Is the threat of players being able to get 3x salary even a blip on their pocketbook?

Katie Strang
  (3:21 PM)

The threat of "treble damages" (three times the amount of a player's salary, in this case) doesn't seem likely because that would require this case to be heard in its entirety. That could take years. I think owners are far more concerned with the tangible dollars they are losing NOW.

Alex (NY)

Is there any reason to believe that this lockout isn't exactly on the Proskauer schedule? The mirrors of the NBA lockout, to me, seem exact. Is there something different in this process, something crucial, that could make this sequence of events implode when it worked and forced the NBAPA's hands?

Katie Strang
  (3:23 PM)

Sure, the personalities on both sides. Maybe this is a page from Proskauer's playbook -- plenty of people believe this to be true -- but Gary Bettman is not David Stern and, more importantly, Donald Fehr was not involved in the NBA dispute. The NHL can control and chart its own course with respect to negotiations, but it cannot dictate how Fehr and the NHLPA leadership will react.

Debbie (Switzerland)

Hi Katie. On Dec 26th, a 5-day tournament called "Spengler Cup" will take place in Switzerland. Many NHL players WOULD participate if there's no deal until then. My question: do you know, or do you think, that players could also participate if a deal is done after the 20th? Do you think they will play, regarding to where the two sides stand now? Chances? Thanks a lot! PS: I'm an NHL fan, so don't get me wrong - I also want the season to start. Just after the Cup here :)

Katie Strang
  (3:24 PM)

Hey Debbie! No I don't think there's any chance any players would participate in the Spengler Cup if a deal was reached before the 20th. However, I think the chances that a deal will be made by then are very, very slim

Phil (Dix Hills, NY)

Would a shortened season benefit any teams who would probably not make the playoffs in a regular 82-game sked?

Katie Strang
  (3:26 PM)

I'm sure a significantly shortened season will both help some teams and hurt others. I think a young, inexperienced team has a better shot if they have a fast start right out of the gate. Maybe a team with a really untimely injury or slow start that normally would rebound over the course of a season, won't

Jay (Texas)

It's hard to believe that the board of Governors as a whole supports the way Bettman and the NHL are handling the lockout, I know that some people within the Sabres organization have spoken out. But with what is in effect a gag order on all NHL front offices it's impossible to tell what franchises are really standing strong and which would like to distant themselves. do you have any idea which organizations disagree with the way the lockout is being handled?

Katie Strang
  (3:28 PM)

I think it's safe to assume that Jim Dolan can't be happy. He's wanted in on negotiations and was subsequently spurned. He knows he has a Stanley Cup contender for a team and he has to sit idly by while his club's chances are squandered. There are others, surely. But they are kept quiet with the threat of a hefty fine

Nicki (Raleigh)

Hey Katie, I'm a big fan of your work. Do you still see an agreement being reached in time for a portion of a 2012-2013 season? Thanks!

Katie Strang
  (3:29 PM)

Thanks Nicki :) Yes, I do. Have experienced the whole gamut of emotions and predictions covering this thing for the past six months, but I'm still optimistic that there will be a season. I think the puck will be dropped mid-January

Douglas (Buffalo, NY)

Since it'll take approximately two weeks from reaching a deal until the first game, what's a reasonable deadline for the league and players to come to an agreement? Since the league has not canceled games on Dec. 31 yet, is it safe to think no deal before the end of December means no season?

Katie Strang
  (3:30 PM)

Nope, there is probably a little more wiggle room than that, but not much more. Figure 10 days from agreement to puck drop, I think January 10th or 11th is the last conceivable date to get a deal done

Marc (Clearwater, FL)

I think many of us are confused about what happened last week and what it means. If the two sides were closer than ever, why did the players make such a drastic move? The league seems ready as ever to play hardball, can/will moderate owners jump in and try to rescue the process?

Katie Strang
  (3:32 PM)

To be clear, players have not disclaimed interest YET. But, it is essentially a last resort move by the players, who feel that the union has exhausted all options in trying to strike a deal.In response, the league is trying to categorize any potential dissolution of the union as a "sham" or bargaining tactic. Neither unexpected, although I think you could make the argument that both are ill-timed

StuMoney (Washington DC)

If you had to give a percentage, what are the odds that they play this season?

Katie Strang
  (3:33 PM)

65%

Bart (St louis)

Why can't the Owners just agree among themselves to not sigh any player over 5 years?

Katie Strang
  (3:34 PM)

Ha! Because they all want to win. No one would adhere to it, and that would be collusion anyway

ted (cape cod)

Can NBC starting broadcasting AHL games so I can get my hockey fix?

Katie Strang
  (3:35 PM)

Not sure about that but NHL Network will be broadcasting Team USA's games from the World Juniors, it was announced today.Went to camp in Westchester this morning and it felt good (if not oddly disconcerting) to be watching some actual hockey again...

Vin (Greenport NY)

Any word on how Gaborik is progressing?

Katie Strang
  (3:36 PM)

He should be ready to play if a season begins in the next few weeks

Rob (Miami)

Malkin has stated he doesn't miss the NHL and is having fun in europe. Ovechkin said if there are salary roll backs etc he believes a lot of players will not return, what's your thought on this?

Katie Strang
  (3:37 PM)

They are contractually bound to play in the NHL once the lockout ends. If they don't comply, they'll be susceptible to international sanctions. That would jeopardize their participation in the Olympics (held in Sochi, Russia) which I' highly doubt they'd risk.

JP (Babylon, NY)

Forget the lockout. How about a real HOCKEY question...Who do you think is the most dynamic young player in the league? A player who has played in the NHL for 3 years or less -- so not Crosby, Ovechkin, etc...

Katie Strang
  (3:38 PM)

I'm a little biased having covered him as a rookie, but I was blown away at the progress John Tavares has made since breaking into the league. Legitimate star

Todd (Minnesota)

Besides writing "Thank You" on the ice, do you think the NHL will do anything creative to appease the fans once they get going again?

Katie Strang
  (3:40 PM)

A couple ideas I've liked to that end: offering Center Ice package for free and featuring a play-in game for playoffs.NHL needs to rebuild some equity with fans, no doubt. Will they recognize that and act accordingly? We'll see.

Daniel (Binghamton, ny)

If an early january deal is in place, what would that mean for this season?

Katie Strang
  (3:41 PM)

48-52 games season. All in-conference games, with Winnipeg possibly re-aligning just for this year. Not fair to have that travel burden on them in such a condensed season, in my opinion.

Katie Strang
  (3:42 PM)

Ok all, that's it for today. Thanks as always for all the great questions.And again, let's hope that next week we have some actual hockey to talk about.Until then, Happy Holidays!