The latest collection of headlines regarding the NHL-NHLPA labor standoff, sale of the Coyotes could come today, deadline for submission of new contracts, the complete waiver list, plus the Red Wings sign Carlo Colaiacovo and Justin Abdelkader.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Barring a miraculous, last-minute resolution, the NHL is headed toward another lockout when the current deal expires at 11.59PM ET on Saturday.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun believes NHL owners should “fear” NHLPA director Donald Fehr’s “trump card”, which could be putting the salary cap on the table in negotiations if the impending lockout should prove lengthy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t consider that a “trump card” for Fehr, but rather a pointless gesture. The salary cap is here to stay, and any attempt to put it into play in negotiations is a non-starter for the owners.
SPORTSNET.CA: An interview with economist Andrew Zimbalist, who believes NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has made “a lot of bad decisions”, suggesting the NHL is “poorly managed”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zimbalist claims Bettman doesn’t want to admit “his southern strategy” of the 1990s was a failure. Actually, the NHL’s “southern strategy” was well in place before Bettman took over as NHL Commissioner in February 1993.
In a 1989 report commissioned by then-NHL president John Ziegler called “A Vision for the Nineties”, the NHL had targeted Atlanta and Dallas among seven cities they wished to expand into, and when Bettman took over, the San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning were already in existence, and the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks had just come into existence. The Winnipeg Jets were moved to Phoenix after Bettman became commissioner because there was simply no one willing to buy the Jets and keep them in Winnipeg, and the offer from the Phoenix interests was the best one. The decisions to move the North Stars from Minnesota to Dallas and the Whalers from Hartford to Carolina were those of their respective owners, done with the unanimous approval of the NHL Board of Governors. The only southern expansion franchises which came into existence under Bettman’s watch were Nashville and Atlanta, and as previously noted, the league had long-targeted the latter before he came into office.
The worst that can be said of Bettman’s role in expansion is he merely finished a project that was well underway when he took over as commissioner. As for calling the league’s strategy “a failure”, I’d say it’s more mixed results. Some haven’t worked, some have. Bettman’s desire to keep struggling teams in their current markets is a reflection of the team owners.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the NHL owners strategy isn’t to find a solution to assist those franchises which are damaging the league’s finances, but rather to keep as much cash as they can, including those who run thriving franchises in big markets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In examining the league’s proposals, I’ve seen nothing which would prove significantly beneficial to perennial money-losing franchises like Nashville, Phoenix, Florida, Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis, Columbus and the NY Islanders. Instead, they’re pushing for the players to accept less revenue and increased clawbacks on their salaries, without a significantly improved system of revenue sharing. I fail to see where that will provide a long-term solution for those franchises. After all, it didn’t work the last time. Why double down?
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Hockey legend and author Ken Dryden weighs in with his take on the current NHL labor dispute, suggesting the “win at all costs” mentality of both sides is hurting attempts at compromise.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman suggests Commissioner Bettman should step away from negotiations and allow someone else, like Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, take over, but he doubts that’s going to happen.
Friedman also reported the following via Twitter: “NHL Players and teams know that if they want contracts approved by 5pm ET SAT (last day of CBA), must file by same time tomorrow…”
TORONTO STAR: Players like Mike Cammalleri voiced frustration over the prospect of another lockout, and how the owners expect the players to keep making concessions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sympathetic with the players, and understand where they’re coming from, but quite frankly, they don’t have much choice. Either accept a 50-50 split and try to use that as leverage to gain concessions from the owners (like increased revenue sharing),or face having to accept less if this drags on and they capitulate again. Yes, both choices suck, but the players aren’t facing the same struggles as their fans, so when players complain about having to accept reductions on their multi-million dollar salaries, that doesn’t resonate with working class fans. Take the best deal they can get, since the owners are usually short-sighted (the last two CBAs bears this out), meaning the players will benefit from a new CBA just as they did the last two.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Bruce Dowbiggin wonders if the 2013 Winter Classic might be the catalyst for a new CBA. I hope so, but since the league already pocketed their money from their new NBC Sports contract, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan said he won’t take someone else’s job by playing in Europe if there’s a lockout.
SPORTING NEWS: Prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison is reportedly open to arena deal changes, perhaps signalling completion of his purchase of the club could happen this weekend, perhaps as soon as Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside last night tweeted he’d heard there was no way the sale would be finalized before the weekend. We’ll see what happens. As for how this could affect Shane Doan’s hopes to re-sign with the Coyotes, check out my rumors section later this morning.
ESPN.COM: Has the complete list of NHL players placed on waivers, allowing them to play in the AHL this season in event of a lockout.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (two years, $5 million) and re-signed forward Justin Abdelkader (four years at $1.7 million per season.)
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators have re-signed defenseman Jonathan Blum to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level.