Tag Archives: Bettman

National Hockey Lockout

Award for lameness. The lockout will have reverberations in varied degrees depending on its duration. If players are bailing immediately, the fans are sure to follow. Maintaining a billion dollar industry with no provider and no customer won’t hold back a backlash.

NCAA and AHL hockey will see a profit, and those neighbordhood junior leagues will benefit from new spectators. The fans want hockey. The game of hockey is why fans pay to see the game,  not to buy a pretzel and a key chain. Going to a game, supporting your team is tradition for most recalling classic memories. If food and trinkets call you to the game, then you really are not a hockey fan.

This work stoppage has sent Evgeny Malkin and Sergei Gonchar packing for home signing deals with Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Pittsburgh Penguins roster got lighter as Sidney Crosby’s agent made an inquiry to the KHL so Sid the Kid won’t hit a skid this season. Yannick Weber and Mark Streit sign in Switzerland, Christian Ehrhoff heads to Germany, so who will next to send a message to the NHL?  Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin, that’s who. Patrick Berglund will play for free in Sweden and the exodus continues.

Shane Doan’s contract was wrapped up with a 4-year deal in Phoenix as the Coyotes arena deal looked positive and possible. Now, that’s all gone for those few fans who eagerly anticipated the return of their desert dogs.

The owners are the only people who really want this lockout. They lose money but hope to gain. This tactic is a way to keep the lid on grandstanding in the future with ludicrous multi-year contracts that escalate as the player deflates. Even NHL players are expendable. Perhaps this is a passive technique to rid the tough guy world of whiners and embellish-makers.

It’s a bittersweet farewell to NHL veterans Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson who will not get a grand farewell if the season isn’t salvaged.

We’ll all laugh about this went the lockout gives way by November, right? We’ll all be cautious and snagging some of those promotional tickets the NHL teams will have to fork over to win back the loyal.

The lockout is lame because it’s the same issue in any workplace- administration vs. staff. Rarely do the two sides ever see the same problem or the same solution. Negotiation must end on a win-win, and that is not happening soon at any percentage rate.

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly will forego salaries this season, and the NHL employees will go to a 4-day work week to save money. The Florida Panthers let go of their mascot and the damages to the profits continue. What was the point of all of this again?

Remember these great moments?

or this great moment for the Rangers/Devils fans?


National Hockey Lame. Positives in all of this: no Paulina Gretzky and Nickelback.

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Kisses from the All-Stars

With a fantasy draft divvying up the All-Star roster, both Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom became team captains of Team Staal and Team Lidstrom. Hometown fans and Hurricanes’ holler wasn’t enough to pull out the win for Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal’s NHL All-Star team, Team Staal, who lost by a goal to Team Lidstrom. The four-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, Nicklas Lidstrom, led his team to victory over Team Staal, 11-10.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out with injuries, but we celebrate them all year. This game was a chance for the other players to gain their deserved recognition. And with that, here are a few highlights from the NHL portion in Raleigh, N.C.

Alex Ovechkin made the first goal of the night and the first faux pas for Team Staal. Ovechkin drew the first All-Star penalty shot when he threw his stick in front of the path of Team Lidstrom’s Matt Duchene on a breakaway. Odd play- looks like Ovechkin lost grip or made the sabotage allowing the stick to slide quite a distance on the ice right past the Avalanche forward. Duchene missed the shot against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If I were a cartoonist, I would have a blast sketching devil horns on Ovechkin and angel wings on Duchene. Or King Henry knighting Duchene as Ovi stretches on the rack.

And now to the defending Stanley Cup Champs time on the ice- Team Staal’s victory was Patrick Sharp winning a new car and named All-Star MVP for his goal and two assists. Chicago Blackhawks teammates, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane claimed the win with Team Lidstrom. Done.

Carolina Hurricane’s forward Jeff Skinner was the youngest NHL All-Star to play in the NHL at 18 years, 259 days, beating Steve Yzerman’s previous record in 1984 by just eight days. Many of the veterans tried to set Skinner up for a goal, but not go. Glad to see Skinner cheered by an awesome group of fans. If anyone doubts that the southeast can support hockey, I beg to differ. Raleigh and Charlotte have made a commitment to hockey playing within the zone of Ovechkin, Byfuglien, and Stamkos. A zone that has not yet been capitalized, teams with low attendance like in Atlanta need to grow or do more marketing. The rumors of Atlanta possibly shifting to Quebec or Winnipeg rouse the loyal in Canada. But if Bettman chooses to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, rather than support the Atlanta Thrashers, the commish must have tee time in Scottsdale often with the NHL players who have retired there.

All-Star games are a celebration of the best talent of the year. Anze Kopitar, Danny Briere and Loui Eriksson scored two apiece for Team Lidstrom. Adding one each were Toews, Dustin Byfuglien, Duchene, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Staal and Letang each had two goals for Team Staal while Ovechkin Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias, Claude Giroux, Sharp and Rick Nash added the others.

Speed puck champ, Zdeno Chara, had two assists for Team Staal. Chara won the puck speed skill competition with105.9, shattering his old record of 105.4 in 2009.

Meanwhile, in Hershey with dancing mascots of chocolates kisses and a plethora of other chocolate delights, the AHL honored their best-of-the-best. Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators was chosen MVP with a goal, 3 assists and a plus-4 rating. Amazing to note that last year’s AHL MVP was Tyler Ennis who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, and a few years prior, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell took the honors.

Bruce Boudreau, Olaf Kolzig and the current AHL President Dave Andrews reminisced on their time in the AHL and the importance of their experience. All commented on the friendships made while playing in the AHL and the torture of travel, notably the 14-hour bus trips from Halifax to Portland. Most AHL players will never get to the NHL, but if you get to play hockey as your job instead of sitting in a cubicle pushing papers, you’ve done good.

NHL vs. KHL

The Detroit Red Wings lost Jiri Hudler, the New York Rangers said goodbye to Nikolai Zherdev, and rumors abound on Alex Ovechkin’s tug of war with the media on his loyalty to the NHL or the KHL. Olympic hockey teams have squared off, with top Russians player playing for the homeland the patriotic conflict has become a competitive nagging ache to the NHL.

According to an article in USA Today, “the reality is Russian players are disappearing from the NHL landscape. Only 23 Russians (and nine more from former Soviet republics) are playing full-time in the NHL today, compared with 87 total in 2000-01.” The Kontinental Hockey League in its sophomore year has enticed players to come back home. Such was the case with veteran Sergei Federov, who may have been seen as over- the-hill, despite the Washington Capitals desire to resign the three time Stanley Cup champ, who also was the first Russian player to reach 1,000 NHL points. Illya Bryzgalov has been in question whether he will stay in the league. In the same article he offers his view, “They are paying good money over there,” said the Phoenix Coyotes goaltender. “If you can earn as much as you can here, why wouldn’t you want be in your home country, with your friends and family watching?”

Will the Olympics bring tears to the eyes of the Russian players who may see another side to their homeland? Comradely could play an interesting role in next seasons NHL’s configurations. Bryzgalov is expected to start for Team Russia, along with Washington Capitals’ Simeon Varlamov, and San Jose Sharks’ Evgeny Nabokov. Other Russian starters include Detroit Red Wings’Pavel Datsyuk, Atlanta Thrasher’s Maxim Afinogenov, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin, Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin and former NHL star Sergei Federov.

Atlanta Thrashers’ Illya Kovalchuk has asked for more money to stay in Atlanta, but no contract extension has been signed yet. Rumors have indicated he may flee to the KHL if offered more money. If a player receives an offer from an NHL club, his KHL club has the right to offer him more (to leave the player in KHL) regardless of salary cap. The same if a KHL club wants to entice a player from the NHL – the salary of enticed player is not counted for salary cap. Interesting note, KHL’s President Alexander Medvedev visited with Kovalchuk, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently. In an article from the Toronto Star, “Hey, we can afford to pay more than the NHL right now,” a high-ranking executive with the Russian league said. “Our economy is commodities-based so we’re not going through the same problems that you have in America.”

Many players want to play in the NHL as opposed to the KHL due to rules and standards.  One blogger, KUN, from Canada on the International Hockey Forum indicated, “If the KHL copies everything exactly like the NHL, it will be nothing but a dupe or knockoff league. It won’t appeal to the larger extent of Europe possibly, a market they need. Smaller rinks will affect Russian style regional play, if the rinks become smaller, it’s a given. Do RSL supporters want that? When the WHA competed up against the NHL they had two distinctive things that made them popular. Fighting and Blood.”

A series of KHL brawls resulted in 840 penalty minutes causing the game to be called less than four minutes in when both teams ran out of eligible players. Players left the penalty box in a single-file line to join in the scrap, including former New York Ranger Jaromir Jagr, now a member of Avangard Omsk. Dropping his gloves. Jagr was good and pissed off, specifically at Darcy Verot, who started the whole mess earlier during warm-ups by shooting a puck at one of Jagr’s teammates. The players were fined as the NHL has implemented in fervor.

Check out the chaos at: KHL Brawl

I offer you an example of other rough play in Russian leagues: Russian Brawl

The NHL’s rule on head hits have been scrutinized and revamped based on crucial injuries and unsportsmanlike conduct in Bettman’s proper game. Alexander Ovechkin has been on the suspension side of rough hits because he’s a physical player. But NHL brawls have not achieved the unruly status of the KHL brawl. Hey, but then again it’s hockey. Whether in Russia, Sweden or the States, players will play for their love of the game or money. Really it’s a matter of a player’s individual preferences. The controversy of the NHL versus the KHL is good competition in a market where another hockey league can utilize more players. The NHL needs some stiff wake up calls to compete on a global scale, where hockey is celebrated as a national sport not a marketing nightmare.