Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- Let me declare a conflict of interest: I have a personal relationship with Darryl Sutter and do not like to criticize him. After a day of research, here is what I think went down. Following last season, his contract was up and there was some serious debate about keeping him. Sutter is intense and driven. He pushes hard. The players wanted a new voice and many in the organization (both above and below Lombardi on the food chain) felt similarly.
One source (who does not work for L.A., but has connections there) said at one point the decision was made not to bring him back, but Lombardi changed his mind, believing in the man who led them to two Cups. He made the call to keep Sutter. Kelly Hrudey has a great line about people who get criticized for being too loyal: “Boy, what a terrible thing to say about someone, that they are too loyal.”
Lombardi was on an island with this call and when it became apparent during the season it wasn’t going to work, it put Lombardi in a weaker spot, especially since Sutter received a three-year contract in the neighbourhood of $8 million. Luc Robitaille’s stature was growing and ownership decided it was his time. Robitaille and Blake are similar, two L.A. guys who wanted to stay there but the opportunities were staring to come elsewhere.
The new general manager, for example, could have gone to Toronto before Lou Lamoriello arrived.
- As the playoffs begin, one of the biggest questions is what will be the standard for goalie interference? When Patrice Bergeron’s April 1 goal against Florida was allowed to count with Brad Marchand in the crease, a couple of executives and coaches said, “This is not going to be good.”
Toronto fans didn’t like it when Tom Sestito knocked out Frederik Andersen from last weekend’s game, but no one had any problem when Brian Boyle, going for the puck, ran through James Reimer, sending him to the dressing room. It is so, so subjective and they are getting hurt.
- even years ago, an angry Glenn Healy left the NHLPA. It was a hard time for him, since he believed in the cause and thought he was doing important work. He said he’d never go back or pay attention to it again, but we knew better. He always kept an eye on it, always cared and remained frustrated whenever he thought the players were choosing the wrong path.
Since Bob Goodenow’s ouster in 2005, there has been near-constant turmoil in the organization and it’s possible we are going down that road again. Healy won’t discuss it, but word is the NHL Alumni Association would like to bring him aboard. The players should take a long look at bringing him back. If I know him (and I do) he wants to be part of the solution.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
This is what the NHL and Gary Bettman do when they don’t get their way: They take their puck and go home. Or stay home. They refuse to play. They did it through Owners’ Lockouts I, II and III in 1994, 2004 and 2012 and they’re doing it again with the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The only thing surprising about this is that anyone, least of all the players, would be surprised by this.
When the NHL persecuted and prosecuted the Devils in the 2010 Ilya Kovalchuk collusion cases (yes, plural), the league’s attorneys successfully charged that the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, rather than the letter of the law, had been violated. Now, though, the spirit of the CBA means little to these folks.
Because though Bettman succeeded in removing the commitment to play in the Olympics from the 2013 CBA after it had been included in the 2005 treaty that codified the hard cap, the league signed off on Article 24.5, which states:
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The NHL announced this week that it won't send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics and the league is still dealing with a concussion lawsuit. On both fronts, Walsh isn't thrilled with the decision-making at the NHL's highest levels.
I chatted with him about these topics -- and a few others -- during a phone conversation on Tuesday. (Note: the text has been edited for length).
ESPN.com: Let's dive right into the Olympic debate. What kind of reaction did you get during conversations with your players?
Walsh: The players are disappointed ... we have a lot of clients who expected to be Olympic-bound. Those who were Olympic-bound are very disappointed. The general feeling among all players, whether they expected to play in the Olympics or not, is that the Olympics are good for hockey.
I don't agree with the narrative that the NHL gets nothing out of it. You have the unprecedented situation, never to be seen again probably in our lifetimes, where you have two Olympics within four years of each other in Asia, an area the NHL has targeted for future growth. To turn around now and say, "We're not going to South Korea because we don't get anything out of it," is so shortsighted. It's mind-boggling.
ESPN.com: The league argues that it hasn't found a metric that shows a quantifiable benefit from playing in the Olympics. Where do you see the benefit? Are there hard numbers you can track?
Walsh: Some of our greatest memories, going back the last five Olympics, have become ingrained inside hockey lore. Take the Czechs' dramatic win in Nagano. I happened to be back in Prague when the Czech team arrived and went and celebrated in Old Town Square, where a half a million people inside the Czech Republic were chanting and cheering. They said it was the largest crowd since the Velvet Revolution. That's not bad for hockey....
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr told a Toronto radio station on Wednesday that his constituency had long memories, saying the Olympic dispute could colour negotiations when the two sides revisit the labour deal, known as the CBA, as early as 2019.
“If the notion is that players will just say, ‘oh well, the CBA didn’t provide for it’ or ‘we wish it were different’ – and we could just go on with life as usual or as if this hadn’t happened, I think that’s a very, very, very unlikely possibility,” Mr. Fehr told Sportsnet The Fan 590.
At the heart of the dispute is the NHL’s unwillingness to go to Pyeongchang for what are largely business reasons – a disruption to its schedule, the risk of injury to top players, an unattractive time zone and the inability to leverage broadcast and marketing opportunities that come from having the NHL at the Olympics.
The NHL players’ collective desire to representative their countries at the international competition, meanwhile, is more sentimental.
“Guys love representing their country on [the Olympic] stage and it is a bitter pill to swallow for sure,” the Toronto Maple Leafs’ U.S.-born forward James van Riemsdyk told reporters Tuesday. “As players, we have shown we want to be there and made that very clear, but this decision was made outside of us.”
from Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star,
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
The expectation is that the NHL will step in to stop all potential individual player participation in the 2018 Olympics.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sent a memo to all 31 clubs on Monday instructing team officials to not comment on potential individual participation, saying that the league will rule on the subject.
You can rest assured that a team of lawyers on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan is already working on that policy, with the goal of quelling the chatter of a revolt sooner rather than later.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted on March 17 – more than weeks before Monday’s announcement ¬– that the league was already contemplating how to combat a free-for-all.
“We’ve started giving some to thought to that. It’s certainly not an issue that we have to resolve today,” Daly told the Ottawa Sun. “I would be surprised if we allowed it to be club-by-club issue at this point. I think there will be a league response.”
Daly declined to comment further about the league’s response on Tuesday.
So, what can the NHL do to curb individual players from leaving their club?
One option would be to issue a rule stating that any player who leaves his club next February to play in the Olympics will be banned from playing for his team for the remainder of the season, including the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The belief is any such unilateral order would quickly be grieved by the NHL Players’ Association, who would likely feel that stiff a penalty and change to the rules would need to be bargained.
Here is what Gary Bettman said on the topic last night on Sportsnet,
from Emly Sadler of Sportsnet,
“NHL clubs have not wanted to go to the Olympics and we have been saying that for months if not years,” said Bettman. “All we’ve done is confirmed it.”
“There are lots and lots of opportunities for us to grow the game internationally and they’re not dependent on us shutting down in the middle of the season to go to the Olympics.”...
“NHL clubs don’t like having to shut down at a critical part of the season and disrupt our season for anything, let alone a situation where we’re not given an opportunity to promote our presence,” he said.
The commissioner also pointed out that while Olympic attendance has been included in past collective bargaining agreements with the players' association, it is not part of the current CBA.
“We’ve tried it, but it doesn’t work,” Bettman said, citing the previous five Olympics games in which NHLers have competed.
“Not only has it not done anything for our game, particularly here in North America where our franchises play, it’s been damaging to the seasons in terms of the competitiveness, in terms of the compression of the seasons, and injuries to players.”
more and you can listen/watch the 19 minute interview too...
added 8:10pm, from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
Executive Director of the NHL Players Association Donald Fehr talks about it being to premature to talk about what could happen if players go to the Olympics without the consent of the NHL
Any notion that these two sides -- the NHLPA and NHL -- were partners in growing the game appear to be gone, thoughts of shared press conferences preceding the World Cup of Hockey a distant memory. You can already see the two sides retreating to their corners.
-Craig Custance of ESPN when answering this question- What will be the most notable fallout from the NHL's decision not to go to the Olympics? More from Custance and the ESPN hockey crew.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
I have to tell you, I never thought they’d do it.
I thought someone would step up at the last second. Or, I thought NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would hold his nose and say, “As much as I hate this…we’ll go.”
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: this is bad. It’s bad for hockey. South Korea may not be China, but it’s not the Solomon Islands. There are a lot of people and influential sponsors who could be exposed to the game.
The Olympics are a fantastic showcase, the pinnacle of sport. The players love it, fans love it. I loved covering them. It’s terrific. Hockey does not win by missing out.
Here’s the problem: it’s not so easy to pick the villain. Bettman is an obvious target, and being commissioner means you eat it. The job and salary comes with that responsibility.
TORONTO (April 3, 2017) - The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) released the following statement regarding the NHL's decision on the 2018 Winter Olympics:
"The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL's shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.
Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season's schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.
A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.
Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League's efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL's decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans."
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.
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