NHL Morning Coffee Headlines (Lockout Looming Edition) – September 14, 2012.

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.


Bettman could lock out the players Saturday night.

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.


  1. Lyle, I’ve got to say that ESPN has nearly reached the depths of incompetence and irrelevance level of… EK !!!
    They come out with the dumbest, petty, poorly thought out comments about hockey teams/ NHL!! There’s some kind of anti-NHL agenda behind their statements, I’m sure.

  2. With regards to Andrew Zimbalist’s comments, his premise seems sound and evident: In Bettman’s NHL, it’s intransigence around the “Southern Strategy” issue that’s created the leagues problems.

    For example, how much better would the league’s ledger look without the $140 Million that was paid to bring the team out of bankruptcy?

    And, no offense to Winnipeg, but with all the lead time available — knowing for years that the franchise in Atlanta was an abject failure — couldn’t bettman have put his energies into cultivating a more attractive market for relocating the team?

    Also, it is reasonable to reject the argument that he is the puppet of the owners, since with the amount of turnover in team ownership during his tenure, many owners have literally bought into Bettman’s vision, not vice versa.

    Instead, the more reasonable argument is that Bettman holds a great deal of power, but he is a weak and uninspired manager who finds it easier to implement for three point games, lobby for corporate welfare and undercut labor rather than foster competition and excellence, build fundamentally sound franchises and formulate responsible resolutions to core personnel issues (compensation, injury, discipline) .

  3. Another lockout? Ridiclioius. As mentioned earlier by lyle this doesnt hurt corprate nhl. Hurts the fans, nhl cities, players. Another example or corprate americia… Make your employees take pay cuts while the fat cats like bettman (please some loud booooing) put ban-aids on teams hemoraging money. Dumb. They need to either contract or get these franchises a city where they can thrive. Record profits and the leauge still wants a lockout… I love the NHL and im a die hard flyers fan… But this shit is so petty and ridicliois its getting extreamly hard to get into a sport with constant lockouts…