The Winter Classic might not be cancelled just yet, outcome of yesterday’s NHLPA conference call, a suggestion to cap escrow payments, and more.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts reports the NHL will not cancel the Winter Classic today and isn’t expected to do so before November 15. James Mirtle, meanwhile, reports on Georges Laraque’s decision to step down as executive director of the CHLPA. The organization’s validity came under question earlier this week regarding its support staff and allegations a convicted fraudster had become involved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, a sliver of hope remains for the Winter Classic, providing it a nearly two week reprieve. Now, it’s up to the NHL and NHLPA to resume CBA negotiations if the Classic, as well as the rest of the season, is to be saved. As for Laraque, who was more a figurehead and spokesman for the CHLPA, this is certainly an embarrassing situation for him.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports yesterday’s conference call among the NHLPA’s negotiating committee and executive board was (according to sources) to reaffirm the membership’s solidarity, as well as the feeling among players to return to bargaining with the league to determine the latter’s flexibility on some key issues. LeBrun also reports negotiations haven’t reached the point where a mediator might be brought in. Craig Custance, meanwhile, reports the lockout is spoiling the Minnesota Wild’s summer, as the club was hoping to capitalize upon fan excitement over the signings of UFAs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
TORONTO STAR: NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider is floating the idea of a cap on escrow as a means of achieving a breakthrough in the stalled NHL CBA talks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting idea from Schneider – one which I assumed earlier in the year the PA might consider in CBA talks – but it remains to be seen if this will reach the negotiating table, and if the league is open to the suggestion. If so, this could perhaps provide the much-hoped-for breakthrough in these talks.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen believes cancellation of the Winter Classic would put the league and the PA on the path toward mutually assured destruction.
NATIONAL POST: Cam Cole believes fans should make the NHL pay if the Winter Classic is cancelled.
CBC SPORTS.COM: Hockey Night in Canada personality Don Cherry believes a new CBA must be agreed to by January 1 if there’s to be an NHL season. He also believes NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is getting too much criticism for his handling of CBA talks, claiming he’s only doing the owners’ bidding.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “[The owners] had a vote at the start… 30 said yes [to the] lockout. It wasn’t Bettman. If they had said no lockout, there wouldn’t have been a lockout. He’s the guy everybody goes after, it’s ridiculous. If 20 owners walked up to him right now and said ‘we’re going back,’ they’d go back.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cherry’s right…to a point. Bettman needs only the support of eight owners to accept or reject any CBA plan. For those who want a better understanding of how Bettman runs the NHL, I highly recommend “The Instigator” by Jonathan Gatehouse.