Kukla's Korner Hockey
The National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association are continuing to negotiate on the details surrounding an implementation of a rule to prohibit blind-side hits to the head. It was thought at one point that an agreement and implementation might have taken place in time for Wednesday’s games, but that is no longer the case.
Sources tell TSN there will be no decision on Wednesday night. The players have asked the NHL for time to get approval from their Executive Board. The league has given the NHLPA until Thursday to get that approval.
The NHLPA released a statement early Wednesday evening, saying “We have deliberated and endorsed to the NHLPA Executive Board the League’s proposal to implement supplemental discipline this season for blindside hits to the head. Our Executive Board will vote on this recommendation and we will respond back to the League with a decision in the next 24-48 hours.”
If (Donald) Fehr assumes a significant leadership role within the NHLPA, the union will immediately regain some of the creditability it has lost in recent years. The NHLPA will also be in a stronger bargaining position with NHL leadership if Fehr is at the helm.
Jeff Levine of the Biz of Hockey. More on Fehr…
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Stop and think about the potential consequences the next time you’re tempted to use your elbow to drive the head of an unsuspecting opponent into the glass.
Stop and think what you’re doing before you shove a vulnerable opponent into the boards, causing a collision the human body wasn’t designed to withstand.
Don’t stop being physical. No one wants that.
Just stop the vicious hits to the heads of players who don’t have the puck. Stop the blindside hits.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
...And so the five player representatives on the committee – Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators, Jeff Halpern of the L.A. Kings, Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Brian Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks and Mathieu Schneider of the Phoenix Coyotes – are making a counter-proposal to the rule change put forward by the league last week.
“We’ve talked about some things, but we need to bounce it off the league. Whatever we do this year is only going to be a band-aid, we’ve been trying for two years to get something in and the league has said there’s already the rules in place that protect head shots and now they want to make a change,” Spezza said after a team skate at the Bell Centre. “But we have to be careful though, there’s what, 10 games left in the season, you don’t want to make a change and put the refs in a bad position.”
Spezza added that the short-term fix the players are advocating is “very similar” to the language in the league’s proposed rule, but that there is no question that it is only a short-term fix.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
...The guiltiest people here are the players themselves, a small but growing number of athletes, Cooke the prime example, who show little or no regard for the pain they inflict, the careers they interrupt or spoil, the quality of life they potentially impair.
This is a game that, for many reasons — including the rule book, the equipment, the coaching, and the overall conditioning and mind-set of the players — is fast becoming a mutant and dangerous form of the sport.
Hockey, the NHL in particular, has always had its warts, mostly attributable to its permissive stand on fighting, a vast amount of it cleaned up via the rule book over the last 20 years. The warts now are worse, far more dangerous. The players clearly need help to understand that and find ways to dial down the volume on an ever-more-violent game, one infinitely more dangerous and less entertaining, less artful, than even the bucket-of-blood days of the Original Six.
more and additional hocke notes…
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Seriously, even one of the best advertisements the NHL has had going for it since the lockout—the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin rivalry—has been tainted by the introduction of jingoism into the mix by outside forces who have sought to superimpose a Cold War environment into the equation, as if this were 1972 with cheers greeting Bobby Clarke for slashing Valeri Kharlamov across the ankle.
The Blackhawks and Sharks seem to have peaked months ago. The Coyotes are an interesting little success story as wards of the state. The Lightning were sold again. Pierre McGuire still is talking, and there are five teams in the East—count them, five out of 15—who have scored more goals than they have allowed.
It’s parity as parody, and everyone most certainly does not have a chance to win despite the Sixth Avenue politicians’ promises coming out of the lockout of two chickens in every pot. In the last four years before the imposition of the imposition of the hard cap, 14 different teams played in the conference finals. In the four years since the lockout, 10 different teams made it that far.
more plus the NHLPA may be getting closer to Donald Fehr as executive director…
from Lester Munson of ESPN,
In the four years since the 2005-06 National Hockey League season was lost to a lockout over an inability to come to a collective bargaining agreement, NHL players have:
• fired the executive director who led them during the lockout.
• hired two new executive directors.
• and fired both of them.
So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the players are attempting to draft a new constitution for their union and search for yet another new executive director while they simultaneously try to figure out how their organization has been unraveling. And over all of that, the next CBA negotiation looms. The current six-year deal runs out after next season unless the players extend it to a seventh year, which is their option. (Given the state of the union, that’s a likely scenario.)
Christine Simpson is your host.
from John Shannon of Sportsnet,
• Ever since the work stoppage, the average NHL club’s front office structure has begun to slowly mirror the corporate world. There are, now more than ever, presidents of hockey and of business and coaches have become middle managers. And like the corporate world, middle managers are often the scapegoat when a company fails. The Ken Hitchcock firing is another example of the middle manager being fired. It’s never senior managements’ problem or the workers’ problem, its always the middle managers’ problem. My expectation is that Hitchcock will be near the top of the list to coach Canada at the World Championships, but if and only if, Canada wins gold.
• The NHLPA search continues. They are still looking for that one person to right the ship and probably re-write their constitution. To me, it looks more and more like Donald Fehr, the former leader of the Baseball union, is going to be in that leadership mix. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if he became the Executive Director himself.
from Tony Blais of the Edmonton Sun,
An Edmonton sports merchandise company is suing the National Hockey League Players’ Association for $1 million, alleging the organization interfered with a deal to sell special player jerseys at the 2008 all-star game.
In a statement of claim filed in Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Jan. 20, Next Wave Sports Inc. alleges the conduct of the NHLPA was in “callous disregard” of its rights and legitimate business interests and says the company is entitled to an award for punitive damages…
Next Wave alleges it contacted the Atlanta Thrashers hockey club in January 2008 and asked for the opportunity to market the product by displaying and selling a jersey featuring Thrashers star player Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Edmonton company alleges the Thrashers and the NHL gave it authorization to display and sell the JAC product featuring Kovalchuk during the NHL all-star-game weekend in Atlanta on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, 2008.
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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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