My take on the recent rumor Jeff Carter & Mike Richards were dealt for partying too much, the arrest of the late Derek Boogaard’s brother, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s salary, and the Phoenix Coyotes increase in season ticket sales.

Carter and Richards traded because they partied too much? According to Dan Gross of Philly.com, two unnamed Philadelphia Flyers claimed the supposed partying lifestyle of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards was a “major factor” in the team’s decision to trade the pair.

Carter and Richards reportedly refused to sign up for head coach Peter Laviolette’s “Dry Island” pledge, where players would abstain from drinking for a month.

Denials have already come from Flyers management, Carter’s agent and Richards, but given the stunning decision to trade both to Columbus and Los Angeles respectively one day before the 2011 Entry Draft, it’s only natural there would be speculation over the “real reason” for their abrupt departures.

If their off-ice lifestyle was a factor in their respective trade, it was likely a minor one. No evidence suggested the pair did anything which brought embarrassment to the franchise, let alone adversely affect their on-ice performance. All that exists are rumors, and unsubstantiated ones at that.

The real reasons behind the trades were most likely owner Ed Snider’s desire to shake up his roster following their disappointing early exit from the 2011 playoffs  and the need to free up significant cap space to sign newly-acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

We’ll probably never find out for certain, but I find the timing of this rumor odd, coming during the dog days of summer when there’s little real hockey news to report.

Granted, Richards didn’t have the best relationship with local reporters when they questioned him about his off-ice habits, and this past season engaged in a bit of a pissing contest with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. That, however, doesn’t mean this justifies this claim their drinking was a major factor in their being dealt.

This sounds more like scurrilous gossip, akin to those which claim the “real” reason a player was dealt was due to sleeping with a teammate’s wife. That’s the sort of thing one finds in a soap opera. Worse, it besmirches the reputations of Richards and Carter. Their private lives never embarrassed themselves, the Flyers, or the league.

Until the sources of these rumors step forward and publicly defends their accusations, they’re not to be taken seriously. Hiding behind anonymity, in this instance, is cowardice, and makes the accusers appear to be back-biting, gutless punks, taking  swipes at two former teammates.

Aaron Boogaard’s arrest in connection with brother Derek’s death. The sad story of the sudden passing of popular NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard got even sadder recently, with the arrest of his brother, Aaron, charged with third degree sale of a controlled substance (Oxycodone) and interference with a death.

Police allege Aaron provided the drugs to Derek, who had recently emerged from a rehab stint for an addiction to painkillers, then attempted to get rid of the remaining pills following Derek’s death by flushing them down the toilet.

The Boogaard family are standing by Aaron, and he is to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but this recent news is a body blow for an already grieving family.

Gary Bettman’s salary. The Commish has been doing very well for himself. His salary (base salary, plus other compensation and benefits) totalled over $7.5 million for 2009-10.

If it’s any compensation for Bettman haters, he still earns considerably less than the heads of MLB, NFL and NBA.

Yes, I know, his critics will claim he’s overpaid, hasn’t earned his salary, is robbing the fans, destroying the league, and so on.

Remember, gang, it doesn’t matter what we think of Bettman’s performance, it’s what his bosses (the NHL team owners) think. Apparently, they believe he’s done a good enough job to justify that kind of money.

I realize some of Bettman’s critics will disagree with that statement, claiming it’s the fans money which pays his salary.

That’s true, but given the ever increasing NHL revenue since the lockout, that’s all the validation the owners need to pay Bettman that salary, not to mention disproving the lie  he’s “killing” NHL hockey. By contributing to the increasing revenues, the overwhelming majority of NHL fans are giving their stamp of approval to Bettman’s job performance.

I know, I know, you’re supporting your favorite team or player, not Bettman. But your favorite team and favorite player performs in the NHL. By supporting them, you’re indirectly supporting the Commissioner.

The only way for Bettman-haters to rid themsleves of the target of your venom is to stop supporting the NHL with your hard-earned dollars, and we all know most of you aren’t going to do that.

Money talks, and a significant, sustained decline in league revenue is the guaranteed way to convince the owners they need a new commissioner.

Phoenix Coyotes season ticket sales up. The good news for the Coyotes is their season ticket sales have increased, selling over 1,000 new season tickets as of July 1st, which reportedly put them in the top five in the league. Their season ticket renewals are also up, with over 90 percent of last season ticket holders re-upping for next season.

The bad news is it might not help keep the Coyotes in Arizona beyond next season.

The league currently owns the club and has been trying for nearly two years to attract buyers willing to keep the Coyotes where they are, but so far, that’s failed to happen.

The last interested buyer, Matthew Hulsizer, backed out after his patience was stretched to the breaking point, following a court challenge by a local tax watchdog group seeking to prevent the city of Glendale from selling bonds to raise money to assist Hulsizer in purchasing the club.

It’s great to see the Coyotes have attracted new fans and have retained their old ones. Maybe an increase in season ticket sales might help the league attract more interest in the Coyotes, but that remains to be seen.

The ‘Yotes have been facing a deathwatch for two seasons now, and next season will absolutely be the last one under the league ownership. If no buyer emerges willing to keep the Coyotes near Phoenix, the league will have no choice but to sell it to owners who wish to move it elsewhere.

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4 Responses to Thoughts on some recent NHL news – July 28, 2011.

  1. NikK says:

    Bettman’s salary translates to $250K per team. The owners will gladly pay him that to continue to tow the line.

  2. Robert L says:

    And the increases in annual league revenue are tied to annual increases in ticket prices.

  3. CoachBowman_2003 says:

    As long as Bettman has the support of 8 members of the board of Governors,he will remain in his position. Also as long as the $$$$$ flows in,he will remain.

    Don’t forget the owners,still have in mind how Bettman brought the NHLPA to it’s knees.And that same PA has canned three directors in 6 years.That speaks loudly on how the owners think Bettman has done his job.

    Unless he decides to retire,Bettman will remain the Commish.

  4. Ryan Lenethen says:

    I’ve heard that Nova Scotia has Coyotes perhaps they should move the team there?

    I don’t know, perhaps Halifax could use a team!

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