Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Lockout -- Another Lost Season

"We'll stay united just to knock the smirk off his face"

Finally, a usable quote from a sports figure that is NOT a cliche'.
Finally, a usable quote from a sports figure that expresses true emotion, and paints an accurate picture of the current situation.

The players are finally saying what I've been wishing for for at least a decade now ... fire Gary Bettman !!

It's not what he says ... once in a while he actually answers a question properly but most of the time he spits out lawyer gibberish to avoid confrontation.
It's not how he says it ... most of the time he's very calm and says things matter of factly, like everybody should have already known the answer to that question.
The body language and the look on his face while he's answering a question ... now that's a horse of a different color.  With his head tilted back slightly, nose up in the air just enough for him to look down it at you, with the subtle hint of a grin on his face, he'll spit out anything he wants to satisfy the interviewer, yet never answer the question ... lawyer gibberish.

If Bettman wants to hold onto his job he's going to have to do the following:
#1 - accept the fact the players want to be more involved with the financial health of the team they play for.
#2 - whip out some hard core facts as to why each team is in it's current financial state.  Show the players some charts & graphs with real numbers on them, and show them what cutting their salaries again will do to equally balance the budgets of all 30 teams.
#3 - he'll have to do this without a smirk on his face or attitude in his voice or lawyer bullshit running out of his mouth.
That means he'll have to treat them as equals and I don't think it's in his DNA to do that.  Consider yet another season lost.

"Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results"

Yep ... we've gotten to the point where we can call the owners actions insane.  Using the lockout as a tool to make the players cave into what they want has been used before and, according to the owners themselves, the last CBA was a compromise, not well structured, and has to be fixed ... hence the different results.  This time with no owner compromise.  It's my way or the highway.
I don't know about you but, the last time my boss gave me that option I told him to fuck off ... on principle alone ... not caring about where my next job or paycheck would come from.

Bettman now finds himself in the same situation Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in.  Mitt has failed to explain, in detail, how he's going to eliminate the massive debt this country has amassed thanks to 2 micro wars little Bush felt were necessary.  Mr. Romney needs to tell the people which tax loopholes he's going to eliminate that will help the middle class and not make the top 1% even wealthier than they already are.  He also needs to explain how dumping the "burden" of  Medicade on the individual states will help bring down Federal taxes but NOT INCREASE State taxes.
Gary has to explain to the players (in plain english) why its a good idea to take away another 7% to 10% of their salaries, and he needs to show them how it's going to help the Phoenixes and the Floridas and the Dallases of the league and NOT the Maple Leafs or Canadians or Rangers etc.

Sure, it's a situation of players that make millions, fighting with owners that make billions, over an equal share of an industry that GROSSES $3.3 billion.  What Gary has to do is show the players where every penny of the owner's half goes and why taking a pay cut would save the existance of the NHL.  He won't do that because he can't.  The players feel (as do most of fans this time around) that the owners cut is large enough. They just need to redistribute it differently and spend it more wisely, realizing that it (money) is in limited quantity.

Considering he is a former player, I am both surprised and dissapointed in the deafening silence coming from one Mario Lemieux.  I don't know how large or small a piece of the Penguins he actually owns but, considering he's been on both sides of the negotiating fence, you'd think he would be more actively involved ... more visible ... more hands on ... maybe even try to be the voice of reason at the negotiating table.  If anybody could explain the owners situation to the players, it would be him.  I don't understand the silence.

I am not a panicky person.  I don't run around screaming "the sky is falling !" just because the last bit of milk in the fridge went bad.  If anything, I'm the opposite.  I'm quite calm and have a tendancy to over-think things.  Knowing the CBA was going to expire in September, I prepared myself for the worst when it became July and no negotiations had taken place.  As July became August and the Red Wings roster wasn't filled with superstar free agents I really got suspicious and knew there was CBA trouble ahead.

"Oh, To Be A Fly On The Wall ..."

As I read the plethora of articles posted on line about the negotiation sessions, I try to put myself in the same room as the players and owners when reading them ... I try to remove myself as a fan and see things from their perspectives.  At this point, both sides look desperate and disorganized. Both are doing a lot of posturing and chest thumping while accomplishing nothing.  Why not sort out one issue at a time until the entire CBA has been re-written ??  Both sides are trying to railroad each other into an agreement that could be favorable to themselves and, because of the mistrust on both sides, none of the proposals have been accepted.  Taking time to explain and compromise on one element per day would eventually lead to a completed CBA that both sides will be happy with and won't cause anger or resentment when it expires and the 2 sides have to return to the table to hammer out another CBA.

Yeah, I know resolving just Hockey Related Revenue could take 6 months all by itself, but if they discuss things on a daily basis (like it was a real job) not bitch at each other for just a few hours every other week, then something my actually get done.

Once again the owners are satisfied with using the lockout as a negotiating tool because they have other sources of income.  Take Mr. I for example.  Every time there is a concert at JLA or Fox Theatre or someone walks into a Little Ceasars and orders 2 pizzas instead of just 1 ... cha-CHING !!  One less hockey game to worry about.  The deeper into the playoffs the Tigers go, the less he worries about cancelled Red Wings games.  Hopefully, the other business people that have invested in a hockey team see it for what it is ... as a game or hobby, and not an investment they'll make a ton of money on.

When you lump the NHL in with the other 5 major sports here in the USA, the NHL will always be the ugly step-sister.  You can't do an Apples to Apples comparison with MLB or the NBA or the NFL or the PGA or even Major League Soccer for that matter.  You could also say the NHL takes a 'back seat' to NASCAR in most states here in the US.  Hockey in the United States is not a money maker and shouldn't be looked at as such. Just ask the fine people at ESPN what they think of hockey.

It might be a different story if the owners were to realize just how much alike they and the players are.  Both love the game with all of their heart and soul ... both are competitive as hell and hate to lose ... both think winning the Stanley Cup is the end all be all in their lives.  Take those similarities and bring them to the negotiating table and slap something together so everyone can get back to enjoying the best sport in the world.

Screwing over the fans is a baaa-aaa-aaa-aad thing...

The longer the lockout lasts, the more difficult it is for the fans to sympathize with either side.  You can let the sheep wander just so far away from the flock before they've wandered off too far, never to return.  Where do we as fans draw that line ?  When is enough enough ??  I am a patient man when it comes to other peoples conflicts.  This in no way has any effect on my financial situation so I could give two shits what they do.  I would have to assume that most of us in the Detroit market would draw that line at The Winter Classic.  If the owners & players screw that up then just shame on them.  All of that emotion and promotion, all of that TV coverage, all of those player phone calls to put together Alumni games, all of those mended fences ... it all goes down the crapper because some owners lose money and some don't.

Well boo-fuckin'-hoo you rich bastards.  If you can't see hockey for what it really is then you don't deserve to be an owner.  Come Jan.1, 2013 if there is still no NHL hockey being played then that's it for me ... I'm out ... I'm done ... time to burn the t-shirts and sweat shirts and hats and blankets and car flags.  To me, Jan. 1st has become the "point of no return". Where do you draw the line ??  What is your point of no return ??

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is it loyalty or is it separation anxiety ??

Shane Doan has become the next UFA to hold up the domino theory that has become this summers UFA signing period.  He is waiting to see just who will own the Phoenix Coyotes and if they will in fact stay in Phoenix for the 2012-13 season ... or so he says.

Shane has been a part of the same organization (winnipeg/phoenix) his entire career dating back to 1995.
That is both loyal and noble and speaks volumes about the kind of person he is.  Mario Lemieux played his entire career in Pittsburgh and now is a partial owner.  Steve Yzerman played his entire career in Detroit. If Edmonton hadn't split up the Stanley Cup dynasty, I'm pretty sure Wayne Gretzky would have stayed there his entire career.  We're talkin' rare-i-fied air people. Pretty good company to be included in, and it is at least 70% of the reason why the Red Wings told Shane they are interested in his services.

Sure, he plays physical, can be frustrating to play against at times even thought he's in his mid 30's, hasn't lost much if any of his scoring touch ... but is he the "power forward" the Red Wings brain-trust seems to think they need to fill out the first line with Pavel Datsyuk ??

No one has mentioned who else will be on that first line with Pasha.  Will it be the rookie Gustav Nyquist ??  Will it be the newly signed free agent Damien Brunner ??  You could very easily move Valtteri Filppula up to the first line with Nyquist and place Brunner on the 2nd line with Zetterberg & the recently reaquired Mikael Samuelsson. That's a lot of speed & skill right there, not to mention almost $21 mil. in salary.  That would create a 3rd line of Helm, Franzen and Bertuzzi plus Jordin Tootoo could go back & forth between the 3rd & 4th lines depending on how quickly he picks up on our system as could Danny Cleary depending on how well his left knee takes to the reconstructive surgery he had once the 11-12 season ended.  That leaves Abby, Miller, Eaves, Mursak, and Emmerton to fill out the 4th line.

Signing Shane Doan would most likely put him in a 2nd/3rd line rotation with Samuelsson.  That would also give us 17 forwards (after Abby signs) and all but guarantees there will be a trade for a top 4 defenceman before the season starts, but first we have to figure out if Doan will actually leave Phoenix.

Should I Stay or Should I Go ??

Sure, he's saying NOW that he wants to find out who will own the team come October.  Once the ownership issue is solved it could become another Suter/Parise situation and family could win out over the chance to play on a Cup contender. He could stay out west with LA or San Jose or Anaheim just to stay as close as possible to the wife & kids.

Signing Doan would give the Red Wings more leadership and more line combination flexibility, and with 2 or 3 more years left in him, odds are he'll finish his career with a Cup in his lap but ........

If Shane Doan is showing this much loyalty to an organization that is currently owned by the NHL itself, what makes anyone think he's not just as loyal to his family ??  What makes anyone think he's going to move east of the Mississippi and leave his family in Phoenix for the next 2 or 3 years ??

I think its time to forget about Doan ... forget about Semin ... and wait until the new CBA is hammered out (by christmas?) and see what talent has to be trimmed off of the other various rosters to fit under the new league salary cap or a teams self imposed salary cap.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's a win-win situation for all ...

Call me a pesimist ... a negative nelly even ... but I think the best situation for all would be for every single Red Wings fan to flood all social media websites demanding a lockout. My reasoning is 2-fold.

#1 - If you're thinking (like I am) that Detroit is going to have a horrid season because of their delpeated defence, wish for Gary Bettman's demands of the players to be so great that they just flat out refuse to sign any kind of contract. Cancel the season and let players go where they may to make their money. That way, Ken Holland & staff have another year to find a couple of defencemen to plug the holes. It also gives the draft choices another season to improve and possibly compete for a roster spot (i.e. Lashoff etc.).

#2 - You could also look at it from the opposite perspective. Detroit fans screaming for a lockout would force Bettman's demands down to a realistic level and the season starts on time. That way, Detroit has a losing season for the first time in 20 years and the evil troll gets to gloat.

Option #1 ... we as diehard Red Wings fans don't have to suffer through a mediocre Toronto-esque non-playoff season.

Option #2 ... The players get a fair shake and there is a 50/50 chance Detroit actually has a decent season anyways.

Pretty simple ... cut & dry ... it's a win-win situation for all involved ...
except for Gary bettman ... muaaaaaaahahahahaha !!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Be Still My Aching Heart ...

As you can see, I haven't had time to post any real hockey thoughts in a while, but this off-seasons "free agent frenzy" has turned into a game of cat & mouse all because 2 players are agonizing over what team to sign with.  I had to find a good place to post this where it had a chance to be seen by the 2 players we are all waiting for to sign.  Think of it as a love note ... think of it as a kick in the ass.  However you interpret it, I hope the message gets through.

A message for Ryan Suter & Zach Parise from hockey fans all across North America ...

Shit or get off the pot guys !!  Pick a city and sign.  Its not rocket science, but it sure seems thats what you think it is.

Money isn't the issue ... both of you are being offered more money than most of us will see in 10 lifetimes.

Contract length isn't the issue ... yes, these are long term contracts to guarantee you X amount of money, but even with a no trade clause you can still change your mind and force the team to trade you.

Don't forget, you're going to live 80 or 90 or 100 years so what you do with the next 9 or 10 years of your life will be the equivalence of a fart in a hurricane.

Going to have kids ?  Then pick a city you think you'll want them exposed to for the first few years of their lives (like they're really going to remember it) and sign a contract with a team already.

If you over-think things it only makes it worse.  Look into your heart and decide.  Be spontanious.  Hockey is still "a game".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

... and the latest suspension goes to ...

Down Goes Frazier !!  Down Goes Frazier !! 

Congrats to Brendan Shanahan on his new disciplanarian role with the NHL, and on the fine job he is doing so far.  I'll reserve any sarcasm built into that last statement until we all find out what decision he makes on the latest 'head shot' to review ... Brendan Smith on Benn Smith in last nights game with the Blackhawks.

For those in Detroit that didn't venture onto the internet to find someone streaming the game (thank you and are pissed that Versus blacked out the game even though Detroit was on the road (i don't get that either) the video clip is here ...

I'll now give you two reasons why this coming season is going to be frustrating and awkward for players, officials, AND fans.
#1 - Shanny is new to the position and has to be tough in order to get his point across as well as gain the respect of players, coaches, and GMs.
#2 - Players are going to have to decide when not to take that risk and cut across the middle of the ice, risking a hit like that, and learn to respect the defenceman coming after them and back off of the puck.

Its always been a game of chicken and so far no one has learned their lesson. The defenceman is ALWAYS going to do what he can to prevent a shot on goal and thats exactly what Brenden Smith did. Caught him in the head instead of the sholder ?  OOPS ... my bad ... but thats what you get for putting your head down and chasing after that puck in the first place.

A Mike Babcock quote eatracted from Chuck Pleiness' blog...
“So, the interesting thing about the league now, and I don’t doubt his shoulder hit his head … is there any responsibility on the puck carrier, toe-dragging, sliding sideways, to look after himself,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “Is there or no? It doesn’t appear like there is anymore, is there?"

Chuck's full blog post can be found HERE

Sometimes the offencive player has to take some or all of the responsibility for a hit like that and, depending on what Shanahan's decision is on this one, this could be a good learning experience for all forwards playing the game. Leave your head down and you're going to get whacked. If Brenden Smith gets all of the blame for the hit then its going to be a long season with an obnoxious amount of suspensions, and a bazillion games ending in unusually high scores because no one is going to want to throw a body check anywhere for fear of suspension.

League officials trying to create new rules in order to protect players is one thing ... abusing those rules and instilling fear into the player instead of teaching them to respect one another is another thing. Placing blame on the wrong player will cause more harm than good and raise more questions than it answers.

In the old days, after a hit like that, benches would have cleared and we would have had a gold old donnybrook at center ice. Fans would have been out of their seats, yelling and screaming at the tops of their lungs, further deepening the rivalry between these two original 6 teams. But, because of the enforcer misconduct penalty, all we saw was minor pushing and shoving and name calling in one corner. Last years Don Cherry 'your mother wears army boots' comment would fit here perfectly.

The pendulum swings both ways, and unfortunately, we are currently swung in the wrong direction ... the direction of league involvement and the attempt to remove fighting from the game. Some day we'll see that pendulum swing back the other way when the league gives up and says, "look, we've done all we could to protect you guys from each other and it didn't work. You want control of the game back so here ya go. No more suspensions, no more instigator rule, police yourselves". That will be the day players learn to respect one another more. That will be the day sticks and elbows come down. That will be the day refs won't look like the bad man and will be able to once again do their jobs properly.

Until then, Brendan Shanahan will have a job with the NHL. Until then he will have to release an new video every 3 days explaining his current suspension. As of 5:45pm, Shanny had his meeting with Brenden Smith and there is no official decision until tomorrow. Here's hoping Shanny makes the right decision and doesn't ruin an entire season of hockey.

Friday, September 2, 2011

... And Belak Makes Three

By now, everyone and their grandmother has written an article and expressed their opinion about the 3 NHL "tough guys" that have died in the past 3 months, and it is disgusting to see so much misinformation being spread.

First ... for those total morons that insist on lumping Bob Probert into this mess I say get a clue.  Probie was on a boat enjoying life with his family when his heart decided to explode.  You only get X amount of beats out of a heart and Probie used his all up.  If it weren't for that, he'd still be here, commenting on those others that have passed.

Second ... yes it's sad, shocking, and thought provoking when something like this happens, but do we know all of the circumstances as to why ?  No we don't.  At this time we can only assume it had something to do with their envolvement in hockey and the role they played.  We all know what happens when we 'assume' anything.  To assume their deaths had anything to do with them being 'enforcers' on the ice is just a knee-jerk reaction which could cause more problems than it fixes.

Being an enforcer in the NHL is a unique role in pro sports and it makes me wonder how much the instigator penalty influences their 'technique' and behavior both on and off the ice.  Because of that one penalty, fights pretty much have to be set up or pre-determined. Gone are the days when any random player can jump a guy the second he makes a stupid mistake.  The instigator penalty has shortened the list of players that will drop the gloves, and made those that do feel more isolated.  Eliminate the penalty and even the playing field ... get everyone involved and the 'enforcer' won't feel so alone.  For all we know, it may also lead to fewer stupid penalties like high sticks, stray elbows to the chin, head shots etc.  If all players know they are fair game and will get the crap beat out of them at any given time, maybe it will clean the game up and players will have more respect for one another, making it a safer game to play.

If we set aside our emotions and take the time to properly investigate each death individually, we will eventually come to a proper conclusion that may or may not involve hockey.  Depression ?  Perhaps, but not necessarily hockey related.  Until that happens, its all just speculation.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can I Get An Attitude Adjustment ??

I purposely stayed as far away from twitter and other internet sources of hockey news this past holiday weekend in order to clear my head and digest everything that is going on. Between the Stanley Cup finals starting, the Amateur Draft a few weeks away, and the Atlanta to Winnipeg fiasco, I felt I had to avoid all further input. A re-evaluation ... an attitude adjustment of sorts ... that and I had a lot of yard work to do. After skimming through things that went on this past weekend, it looks like others should have done the same thing I did. I'm just not sure my weekend was long enough.

Seriously ??

Via a Sunday afternoon tweet from Detroit Red Wings Marketing and Communications Department:

"Former Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon has been hired as the head coach for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League."

And that's it. End of story. Literally nobody in the hockey world has commented and no one has been interviewed. Brad McCrimmon would rather be Head Coach of a KHL team as opposed to Asst. Coach of the mighty Detroit Red Wings ?? What does this say about Detroit or Mr. McCrimmon's judgment ?? Will his career blossom like Todd McLellan's or tank like Dave Lewis's ?? I think I need another quiet weekend to digest that one. I had a beer here somewhere ...

Bait & Switch ??

Finally, the formal announcement came this afternoon that the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg's True North Entertainment Group is final. While some are sad to see Atlanta lose their team, we all have to remember this is the second time it has happened. Expansion brought the Atlanta Flames to town in 1972 and they lasted just 8 short seasons before they picked up and moved to Calgary. Why the NHL chose to return to Atlanta in 1999 is a mystery.

Does anyone remember Benjamin Franklin saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results " ?? I guess not because we now have 10 teams in extremely warm weather climates that really don't belong there (yes, I'm including LA). For one thing, a warm climate is not conducive to any thoughts of hockey. Secondly, the ice in the buildings flat out sucks and is dangerous for the players health. The puck bounces like a superball and you can't complete 2 passes consecutively to save your ass. It's amazing hockey in the south has lasted as long as it has considering the poor quality of the game. Which brings us to the original team we all thought would be headed back to Winnipeg ... the Phoenix Coyotes.

One more season in Phoenix and you know they're gone. Anyone with half a brain can see it coming, but where will they move to ? Quebec City ? Seattle ?  Anyone that thinks the warm weather cities of Kansas City or Las Vegas are viable choices needs to have their heads examined thoroughly. Unfortunately, the NHL has a Commissioner that cares more about money than the actual game itself, and it's money that is driving these relocation choices, not hockey knowledge or passion. Bettman wasn't going to get a "relocation fee" out of Phoenix so the Coyotes stay put for another season.

Who's next on the list ? Florida ? Carolina ? Columbus ? Nashville ? Give it time ... the subject of league contraction will soon rear its ugly head again.  And realignment will be all the rage this coming season as well. Winnipeg playing in the Southeast Division this coming season is going to be a joke. Will the True North Entertainment Group get a kickback from the NHL to cover the extra travel expenses ?? Will CBC cover any or all of Winnipeg's road games without subsidy fees from the league ?? This move creates more problems than it solves and I think I this too calls for another long holiday weekend to sort out. Damnit ... where's my beer ???

For those of you that are excited about Atlanta's move, Kuklas Korner has conveniently posted video clips of the press conference and a short interview with Commissioner Bettman on one page. No doubt, there will be much more chatter on CBC tonight during Game One of the SCF.

 ...and if you are of the opinion that playing in the weaker Eastern Conference for one season could be to Winnpeg's advantage as they go UFA shopping July 1st, this article by's Matthew Wuest lays out all of their options.

Potential Upside ??

Scott Campbell over at The Scouting has posted an incredibly detailed article on the 2011 NHL Draft Top 100 Skaters.
Here's to hoping these kids know what they're in for if they're drafted by a warm weather climate team.

HA !! Found my beer !! ewwwww it's warm ... off to the store for another 6 pack before the game starts.

Tomorrow ... has the influx of European players over the last couple of decades helped or hurt the NHL ??  This has Don Cherry written all over it, doesn't it ??