Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
There is plenty of blame to be shared as a result of the most recent NHL player (Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik) to be evacuated from the ice on a stretcher following an ugly incident Saturday night in Boston.
It's high time for the NHL brass, their Officiating Department and the NHLPA to put their collective heads together to provide meaningful player safety measures that aren't being achieved through current attempts. Consistently applied player suspensions aren't the only tool to curb dangerous and unwanted hits to the head. We need to take a step back and have a serious discussion, recognizing that education will be the key to effectively changing this destructive culture at all levels of the game.
Players often seek out retribution for hits, even those deemed legal, that are delivered to one of their teammates. Following a "big" hit, the temperature of the game can immediately elevate to the near boiling point. At such times, the referee's primary job is to take whatever measures necessary to control the environment. To do that, he has to have a "feel" for the game and what is required. A better job could have been done by the refs in that regard after Orpik delivered a hard, legal open-ice check that knocked Loui Erisksson out of the game on the very first shift.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
- Just a horrendous and all-too typically arrogance-based missed call from an NHL referee on Friday night in Newark with 1:08 to go in a one-goal game, when Frederick L’Ecuyer cited Cory Schneider for playing the puck outside the trapezoid when everybody else in the building could see the goaltender had done no such thing.
That’s a no-judgment call that should be subject to video review, as should be delay of game for shooting the puck into the stands inside the defensive zone and a double-minor for drawing blood.
These aren’t calls open to interpretation, such as goaltender interference. These are he-did-or-he-didn’t issues that could be resolved almost instantaneously and without intruding on the game’s flow. That’s assuming there is a flow, which is a leap of faith in many rinks.
- Yes, it’s true, many general managers had no idea how the NHL playoff format would work prior to their league meeting a couple of weeks ago. When they learned the structure, many were aghast.
Expect the GMs to push for a change over the summer, but the format is part of the three-year realignment agreement the NHL has with the NHLPA, and it was the union that insisted on the wild-card/crossover as a means to achieve some sort of math-based equality between seven- and eight-team divisions.
“If that’s what the players wanted, there couldn’t have been any players involved in the decision,” one prominent player said this week.
more topics including Laviolette/Islanders talk...
Yesterday I was under the weather and missed posting this in a timely manner, today I am feeling much better...
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
Last summer, NHL general managers wanted to eliminate the spin-o-rama from shootouts. But the NHLPA blocked it. If you can't get agreement on that, you certainly aren't going to get agreement on Pavelski's move. So we get mass confusion and a prominent player ripping the game.
How, exactly, does the sport benefit from that?
The NHL and NHLPA fought over goaltending equipment. The union was annoyed that several GMs thought the league could unilaterally change the playoff system at a November meeting (they were reminded there is a three-year commitment to the setup). The NHL was furious at the players for waiting until the last possible minute to approve hybrid icing.
I get that there's a lot of mistrust between the two sides. It's deep-rooted and it's not going away any time soon. But the owners, league office, franchises and players will never have an opportunity to make more money for themselves than they will in the next decade.
Last summer, they worked together to clarify Rule 48, a smart move that ended confusion. But too often, it becomes, "If we do this, what will you give us?"
If the NHL and NHLPA maximize the on-ice product, they will maximize wallet fatness.
more plus 30 Thoughts...
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL Alumni Association calls itself “Hockey’s Greatest Family,” but it is far from hockey’s happiest family.
A lot of former players feel like poor relations, complaining about a lack of communication and support from an association they say only concerns itself with a small group of members in the Toronto area.
“It’s become a Toronto clique,” said former Buffalo Sabres star René Robert, who was one of the founders of the alumni association in the mid-1990s and served as its executive director until he resigned several years later. “We’ve got guys who don’t know we exist. They’ve never been contacted and don’t have a clue what this is about.”
A group of ex-players is unhappy enough to have sent the association’s executive director, Mark Napier, a five-page list of questions concerning various matters.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
The NHLPA says the Calgary Flames cannot mandate its players wear protective foot and ankle equipment commonly known as "shotblockers."
Flames general manager Jay Feaster instructed his players get fitted for the guards after Calgary captain Mark Giordano suffered a broken ankle and veteran forward Lee Stempniak broke his foot after being hit by pucks last month.
Flames players have informed the Players Association they were strongly encouraged by Flames management to wear the shotblockers, but were told the equipment wasn't mandatory.
However, Feaster says this is a mandatory team policy which may create a problem as such a policy could be viewed as a CBA violation.
This from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun a few days ago...
In fact, following the loss of their two most consistent players to shot-blocking injuries, the Calgary Flames have issued a directive to players making additional foot protection mandatory.
“With the injuries, it’s too bad that we reacted too late, but we don’t encourage them right now, they have to wear them now — it’s policy starting two days ago,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley, whose club suited up Wednesday for the second game in a row without captain Mark Giordano and forward Lee Stempniak following painful shot-blocks that broke their ankle and foot respectively.
“It’s too late, but we learn from our mistakes. It won’t repeat itself with what happened to Giordano and Stempniak. Even though the players are pros, once in awhile, we have to put in some strict policies. Right now, we’re certainly not a better team without those two in the lineup.”
from Aaron Ward of TSN,
The NHL Players' Association is seeking permission to sue the state of Tennessee on behalf its membership and get reimbursed for a special tax that players must pay each time they play a game in Nashville.
Since the 2009-2010 season, the state has taxed NHL players $2,500 - with an annual cap of $7,500 - under a 'Professional Privilege Tax' each time they were on their club's playing roster for a game in Nashville.
The Players' Association believes this is unfair and possibly unconstitutional, saying a player making the league minimum would in fact lose money playing there and would be better off financially by not playing.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Commissioner Gary Bettman’s opinion upholding the 10-game suspension assessed Patrick Kaleta for his head shot against Jack Johnson, in which the commissioner cites and quotes liberally from the NHLPA’s appeal of the sentence may prove a tipping point in the way the union responds in such matters.
Because if dues-paying members of the PA read the decision, they’d have to come to the conclusion the league is more invested in player safety than the union, which seems more invested in protecting an individual player’s paycheck and in assigning the blame to the victim.
There is, according to several disparate sources within the industry, widespread unease within the union over this course of events. Indeed, this is likely to become Topic A on the agenda during PA executive director Don Fehr’s annual fall tour of the league.
continued plus some Dipietro talk that Brooks broke earlier today...
NEW YORK (October 24, 2013) -- Commissioner Gary Bettman today upheld the 10-game suspension that was assessed t oBuffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta by the Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head o fColumbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson in NHL Game No. 49 in Buffalo on October 10.
Commissioner Bettman heard Kaleta's appeal of the original decision, assessed Oct. 15, at a hearing in New York on Monday.
Kaleta is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, will forfeit $152,439.00. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 3:08 of the first period.
Read Bettman's complete ruling here.
from Frank Seravalli of Frequent Flyers,
What does Paul Holmgren have up his sleeve?
It doesn’t take a mathlete to understand that the Flyers are currently over the NHL’s $64.3 million salary cap with Chris Pronger on the roster.
Pronger will not play again, but the Flyers must retain his salary cap hit on their roster for the first day of the season before he can be move to the long-term injury list.
It’s important to note that the first day of the salary cap begins Monday afternoon - and the Flyers’ first game isn’t until Wednesday against Toronto. Meaning, many expected the Flyers to simply make a “paper transaction” and send waiver exempt forwards Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier to the Phantoms for the first day and re-call them on the second.
from the Darren Dreger Report at TSN,
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr will meet with the IIHF in Portugal on Thursday.
Whether discussed at this meeting or not, there's a growing sense of urgency in determining the NHL's plans to continue to expand its European profile.
While it's not CBA related, the NHL and NHLPA did agree to work together to send four NHL teams back to Europe next fall for regular season games. Sources say there has been little progress in planning the NHL's return and time may be running out. NHL clubs are already making plans for their 2014 training camps and preseason games and the marketing impact required may suffer because of the loose ends.
The World Cup of Hockey is also on the list of items that IIHF executives would like to discuss this week.
Without question, both the NHLPA and the NHL are keenly interested in bringing this spectacle back, however, aside from some informal discussions, there appears to be little urgency to kick this joint initiative into high gear.
read on for more topics...
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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