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Scotty Talks Hockey and Golf from Scotland

from the Denver Post,

In a foreign country, nothing startles a tourist like bumping into a friend from back home. It messes with the sense of time and place. "Hey, what are you doing here?" the voice whispered behind my right ear, as I stood at the fourth tee box watching Jack Nicklaus at the British Open. This being Scotland, where serious walks and golf are national pastimes, it might figure a lad named Scotty would be out strolling 18 holes on a summer afternoon. But not this particular Scotty, who had my shoulder in a vise grip. What in the world was he doing here? "How did you get out on the course?" hockey legend Scotty Bowman asked by way of saying hello. "Are you friends with Jack?" "No," I replied, about to confirm what Bowman must have suspected through years of our testy exchanges under playoff duress. "I don't know Jack." The greatest NHL coach who ever lived laughed. Not at me. With me. I think. He wore a baseball cap from the All-Star Game in Detroit. "Shows you how crazy I am," said Bowman, who is 71 but gladly acting half his age. "I came here straight from a baseball game."

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Bonuses Restricted

from the Toronto Globe and Mail,

Under the league's new collective agreement, bonuses will be severely restricted and not just to entry-level players such as Sidney Crosby, the star of this month's lottery draft. According to several NHL team officials who are still sifting through the new agreement, players will no longer receive team bonuses, money that used to be paid out if a team recorded a specific number of wins or made the playoffs. Individual performance bonuses will be paid to players who have existing contracts (minus the 24-per-cent rollback) but players negotiating new deals will be subjected to limitations. For example, if a player leads the league in scoring or is voted the top goaltender, he will receive a bonus payment from the NHL. The standardized bonus money would not count against the individual team's cap of $39-million (all figures U.S.) but would instead count against the league-wide cap that guarantees 54 per cent of all revenue to the players.

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Rules Discussion Ongoing

Some of the more interesting rules that are being discussed per the Toronto Globe and Mail,

Instigator: The instigator rule will remain, meaning a player deemed to have started a fight is tossed from the game. But if the infraction occurs in the last five minutes of a game, the player also receives a one-game suspension and his head coach is fined $10,000 (all figures U.S.). If the team pays the fine, the club is fined $100,000. Diving: The league will warn a player for the first incident. There will be a $1,000 fine for a second incident, $2,000 for a third, and a one-game suspension for a fourth. In the playoffs, a third- and fourth-time offender will be fined $5,000, but if one these multiple offenders is nailed two or more times, it's a one-game suspension. Complaints: Players, coaches and general managers are subject to fines of as much as $100,000 for derogatory comments about the officiating. Playoffs: The postseason could be expanded to 20 clubs from 16, with the third- and fourth-place teams in each of the six divisions competing in a best-of-three, play-in round. Officiating: Officials will be geographically located to work in divisions and work in two-referee teams as well as meet with team captains and coaches before each game.

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Players Still Unhappy

from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

Members of the NHL Players' Association will gather at a Toronto hotel today to learn about the collective bargaining agreement the group's executives have negotiated with the league. They'll be briefed on the finer points of the salary cap and free agency, learn the details of qualifying offers and entry-level contracts. And when they're not listening, some of the players figure to have a few words for NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow. They'll be looking to let him, and the rest of the NHLPA hierarchy, know what they think of the proposed CBA. Which, in a lot of cases, isn't much. At least a few NHLPA members, angry that their leaders abandoned their core belief that a salary cap and linkage between revenues and payrolls were unacceptable under any circumstances, are expected to vent during the meeting.

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Key Dates

* July 23: Buyout period begins; also begins the period to negotiate with 2003 draft picks and teams' own free agents. * July 28: 5 p.m. EDT deadline for signing 2003 draft picks (otherwise they re-enter 2005 draft); deadline for exercising club/player options for 2005-06 season. * July 29: 5 p.m. EDT deadline for player buyouts. * July 30: NHL entry draft in Ottawa. Modified version with only top prospects invited and cut down from nine to seven rounds. * July 31: 5 p.m. EDT deadline to extend qualifying offers to clubs' own free agents. Qualifying offers are needed to retain rights of restricted free agents. * Aug. 1: Official free-agent signing season begins. * Aug. 10: Players notify teams whether they've elected salary arbitration. * Aug. 11: Clubs notify players whether they've elected to bring them to salary arbitration. * Aug. 12: NHL and NHLPA schedule arbitration cases. * Aug. 15: Qualifying offers expire automatically. * Aug. 22-Sept. 1: Salary arbitration hearings.

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Talking TV Deals

from USA TODAY,

As the NHL seems ready to play games again, it has no national U.S. cable TV deal. An idea: Put games, with players and coaches miked live, on ad-free HBO, where anything goes with on-air expletives. "That's intriguing," HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg says. "The only issues would be how much (money) they'd want and the games' significance. I'm not sure regular-season games would have the heat we'd need. But if they gave us an open book, we'd fill the pages." Don't laugh. The NHL, which got microscopic national U.S. TV ratings before it shut down, needs TV for more than money. It needs TV to climb out of its hole. ESPN, in May, passed on renewing its NHL TV rights for $60 million annually and proved it could live without hockey by averaging 0.8% of U.S. cable TV households for hastily assembled shows that replaced the NHL playoffs — which had averaged just 0.7% in 2004. "We're interested in doing a deal," says ESPN senior vice president David Berson, adding ESPN wants the NHL to change its rules so games can't end tied. "But we're proceeding with alternate plans. If we're going to do a deal, it needs to be sooner rather than later."

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Hard Pill to Swallow

from ESPN, It's true. And most players (unless of course they play in Boston or perhaps Chicago) have few issues with their general managers or owners. Players in Calgary didn't go to war for 301 days with GM Darryl Sutter or Ken King and the rest of the Flames' ownership group. Nor did the Flyers watch an entire season scuttled because they have issues with GM Bob Clarke or owner Ed Snider. They went to war with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the gray, faceless institution known simply as "ownership." Given that, it's going to be a lot more palatable going back to work for these GMs and their owners, and going out into the communities on their behalf, trying to repair a crumbling foundation in their cities. "I don't think it's going to be a difficult task," veteran netminder Olaf Kolzig said. "There are 700 players. There's going to be some grumbling. There's going to be some questions that need to be answered. But the bottom line is we need to get the game back on track as opposed to playing the blame game. I'm excited to get going. "This is a time to start promoting the game again and not dwell on what happened last year." In the cities where the majority of players share this sentiment, the transition from the pummeled to the partners will be easier. For others, however, the sting of the lockout will be more difficult to ease. For some players, the notion of a partnership will forever be alien. They will see the $39 million salary cap as a cap on their potential, and they will merely exist within the framework, collecting their paychecks. "Guys just won't play as hard," one agent predicted. "You can't see it, but you're going to feel it, you're going to sense it. "There has to be something that drives everybody. It should be winning."

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Ovechkin Faces Deadline

via Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,

Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals' No. 1 draft pick last year, has until midnight tonight to decide whether he will wear a Capitals uniform next season or play in Russia, his agent, Don Meehan, said yesterday. "Alex has a very, very tough decision to make," Meehan said by telephone from his Toronto area office. Ovechkin already has agreed to play for Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League in 2005-06. But the contract contains an escape clause that allows the 19-year-old left wing until midnight to back out of it and sign with the Capitals. "He will have to make that decision with his family," Meehan said. Meehan has not commented on the specifics of Ovechkin's contract with Omsk, except to say that it is worth "nearly three times" what he could make in the NHL next season.

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Will Goodenow be Ratified

from Newsday (Wed. edition),

Bob Goodenow will face his constituents here today and likely will face some heat as the new collective-bargaining agreement is outlined to members of the NHL Players Association. After today's presentation of the 600-page document in a hotel ballroom here, the players will gather again tomorrow for a ratification vote. About 200 players are expected to attend today, with the remaining 500-plus participating via the internet. here is little doubt the agreement will be ratified by the players. What is uncertain is if they will continue to endorse the embattled Goodenow as the union's executive director. There have been reports about players demanding Goodenow also take a 24 percent cut in his salary, as he negotiated for his players in the new deal. "Apparently his salary has never reflected ours," said one veteran player. "He gained it from a proposal put together by a professional firm, comparing him to major union leaders. How long he will be a union leader is the question."

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Getting the Cap to Fit

from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,

Some people look at a salary cap and see a limit. Irwin Mandel, the Chicago Bulls' senior vice president for financial and legal affairs, sees a challenge. "You have to be very aggressive and creative," said Mandel, who has worked for the club for 32 years. "I try not to take no for an answer and I sort of take it personally if the salary cap prevents the Bulls from doing something the Bulls want to do. "That's not to say that in 100 percent of the cases you can get around the cap legally. My philosophy is that it doesn't do any good to say, 'Darn, this can't work.' If alternative one doesn't work, go to alternative two. You try to figure out a way to get done what the general manager gets done." Mandel's philosophy should be duly noted by his counterparts in the NHL, where crunching numbers will soon be as important as crunching opponents. With the NHL and the players' association set to vote this week on a collective bargaining agreement that includes the league's first salary cap, club executives are warming up their calculators. They're about to learn what their NFL and NBA brethren already know: A good capologist — someone who knows the cap rules and can utilize them to his club's advantage — can be as valuable as a first-team All-Star.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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