Among today’s collection of notable NHL lockout headlines: the league announces cancellation of its September pre-season schedule, Alexander Ovechkin threatens he might stay in Russia after the lockout, the high cost of ensuring Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane sticking to straight and narrow this long off-season.
NHL.COM: announced the cancellation of the preseason schedule through September 30.
WASHINGTON POST: Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin threatens he might remain in Russia if players salaries are reduced in the next CBA.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not taking Ovechkin’s comments seriously, as I believe he made them more out of frustration with the current labor dispute than in any real desire to remain in Russia if his pay is reduced in a new CBA. For one, he’s under contract with the Capitals until 2021. New CBA reducing his salary or not, it would be very difficult for him to get out of that contract. There’s also the existing agreement between the NHL and KHL not to sign players who are already under contract to prevent “poaching”, and I doubt the KHL would risk another nasty spat with the NHL. That agreement apparently expires in June 2013, but I believe it will be renewed. Ovechkin and the KHL would also risk IIHF sanctions, which would prevent him from participating in international tournaments, including the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
I do believe, however, the NHL is playing with fire in terms of future young European stars. Reducing their pay and extending the entry-level contract from three to five years could result in an increasing number of European prospects drafted by NHL teams staying in Europe, where they could potentially earn more money than they would under the NHL’s entry level deals.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Agent Pat Brisson, who represents Sidney Crosby, recently noted it would cost up to $400K per month to insure his client if he were to play overseas during the lockout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain why Crosby currently has no plans to play in Europe.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is focusing on portraying a more positive image and working on his skating during this long off-season. Kane made headlines last spring after being photographed intoxicated at a college block party in Madison, Wisconsin. He remains uncertain if he’ll play overseas during the lockout.
CALGARY HERALD: Calgary native Domenic Pittis is among a number of players who’ve made their living in Europe at risk of losing his job to locked out NHL players, but he isn’t bitter about the situation.
“I know some guys are upset about it, but it’s an open market, right?” says Pittis, who turns 38 on Oct. 1. “And it’s kind of what you’ve been facing your whole life as a hockey player — ‘If there’s somebody better . . .’ So I don’t really hold it against those guys at all. I’m trying to play somewhere, trying to get some ice — and they’re hockey players, too, trying to do the same thing.
“Not knowing how long it’s going to go on . . . I am a little bit anxious. Sitting around and waiting is the toughest part. Definitely more stress.”
CSNPHILLY.COM: It’s believed NHL employees at the league offices will switch to a four-day work week effective October 1 because of the lockout. The move will cut salaries by 20 percent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the plus side, at least those employees won’t lose their jobs. On the down side, they’re still seeing their salaries cut. They’re among the real losers in this lockout.
THE TENNESSEAN: The city of Nashville remains on the hook for millions in subsidies to the Predators, even if the team isn’t playing.
NATIONAL POST: Forget about the trustees of the Stanley Cup awarding it to any beer leagues if the NHL season is cancelled.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The “free the Stanley Cup” campaign was silly and pointless in the first place.
TSN.CA: Players who embellish to draw penalties could face stiff punishment when the NHL returns to action. Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler has been identified as an offender, Chicago’s Dan Carcillo’s has been caught on tape several times, and there’s been complaints about Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin trying to mislead referees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It may be difficult during game action for officials to catch those who embellish, but they can certainly be punished after a game when the tapes are examined. Hopefully, efforts to crack down on embellishment will prove worthwhile.
ESPN.COM: The NHL is keeping an eye on the OHL’s new fighting rule which targets those players who do little else but fight, punishing those who garner their 11th fighting major of the season with an automatic two-game suspension.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Speculation abounds over who will become the bidders for the Anschutz Entertainment Group sports empires, which includes the Los Angeles Kings and their arena, the Staples Center. Bidding could go as high as $7 billion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yesterday I suggested Philip Anschutz was selling off part of his sports empire to invest in an NFL stadium and franchise. This, however, isn’t the case, as he’s selling off the entire thing. My thanks to GJ Berg for pointing out my error.