Emerging from the American Thanksgiving long weekend, there’s very little news on the NHL lockout and no CBA talks scheduled.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard reports if the NHL cancels this season, it’ll potentially rob the New York Rangers “of one full year in a potential three-year window to win the Cup with their current core — the first year being last season’s trip to the Eastern Conference finals.” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal voiced his frustration the NHL & NHLPA cannot reach an agreement.
It remains to be seen if there will be any formal talks between the two sides scheduled for this week. Leonard believe the Board of Governors meeting on December 5 in New York could prove pivotal, and hoped Rangers owner James Dolan “will have an opportunity to echo the sentiment of his players and hope many more of the 30 owners feel the same way: that it’s time for hockey to come back.”
Leonard also quoted one players as saying the players are fully informed on the negotiations, “the union’s plan for how to proceed is not clear”. Staal chalk that up to uncertainty over what the owners are thinking, thank to the gag order imposed by league commissioner Gary Bettman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There appears a growing hope the moderates among the owners will try to force Bettman and the more hawkish owners into reaching an agreement with the players, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Bettman and his inner circle of influential owners run a tight ship, and most of the other members of the BoG usually rubber-stamp whatever the commissioner wants. Perhaps it might be different this time if there’s a genuine push by a majority of the owners to get a deal done to save the season, but given how ruthlessly Bettman has moved in the past to crush dissent – as Rangers owner James Dolan understands only too well – I’ll be surprised if this upcoming BoG meeting brings about a swift conclusion to this lockout.
FORBES.COM: Sports agent Leigh Steinberg weighs in on the NHL lockout, suggesting it is killing whatever momentum the league had built up in recent years, especially in the all-important American sports market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steinberg’s right, of course, and isn’t saying anything different critics of the league’s strategy (including myself) have been saying for months. The reason the NHL is doing this is because those in charge believe the fans will come flocking back just as they did after the last lockout. If the NHL saw a significant decline in their fan base and revenue following the last lockout, it’s a good bet the owners wouldn’t have staged the current one. It’s a gamble, but one the league brain trust believes it can win.
NEW YORK TIMES: Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is trying to understand the owners strategy behind this lockout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s quite simple: the players caved before, they’ll cave again, and the fans will come flocking back regardless.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jack Todd criticizes NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Get in line, Jack.