Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
When the Red Wings, Canucks and Bruins swept first-round playoff series, their fans were presumably thrilled. Paul Kelly, the executive director of the NHL players’ union, was not.
“We were a little bit troubled to see three sweeps,” Kelly told the FAN 590 last week. “From our standpoint, from a business perspective ... we like to see six- and seven-game series.”
These ears, and call them overly sensitive, were troubled to hear one of the game’s most influential power brokers advertising his wish for longer post-season series. Yet there was Kelly in Washington last Monday, before Game 2 of the second-round beauty between the Capitals and Penguins, making no bones about his wish to see the Penguins tie the series 1-1, no matter what his cheerleading might suggest.
“If the suggestion is somehow you’re telling players to blow games to extend series, number one we would never say that, we’re not saying that, and even if we did say that, players would ignore us. I mean, these guys are out to win,” Kelly said the other day. “I’m stating the obvious, which is, when we have large-market clubs in the playoffs and we have six- and seven-game series, it generates more revenue for us and particularly in a year like this one, that’s a good thing. I don’t think there’s anything controversial about it.”
continued with a ‘conspirecy theory’...
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Based on what has happened with Phoenix, the NHL should have learned three key lessons:
1. There is no benefit to be derived by intentionally shielding public eyes from the economic troubles of individual teams.
Bettman and his lieutenants are by nature either secretive or very protective. But it eats at the credibility of NHL leadership when, after months of blunt denials, the Coyotes prove to be swimming in precisely the overflowing pool of red ink that many reports suggested….
2. Treating the players’ union as a minor irritant rather than a true partner isn’t a productive strategy.
NHLPA head Paul Kelly can deny it all he wants, but the union knew what Balsillie was up to and was supportive. The last straw for Kelly was probably going to the GMs meetings in Naples, Fla., in March and having his presentation summarily dismissed.
“I think anytime you have someone who is a passionate hockey guy who loves the sport and plays the sport, who is a true fan of the sport, as an owner, is a great thing. If it happens that that person has deep pockets, that would be a better thing. Jim obviously has all of those attributes.
“I sensed his passion for the game [in conversations with Balsillie] and I do think it would be somebody worth considering. But there is a lot of politics and history here [between Balsillie and the NHL] that I am not in a position to comment on.”
-Paul Kelly, Director of the NHLPA on Jim Balsillie. More from Kelly from Alam Adams of CBC.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
With a handful of Sun Belt teams struggling to sell hockey, NHLPA director of player affairs Glenn Healy believes the timing could not be better for the NHL to seriously look at transferring a second team to the Toronto area.
He also stated that, in addition to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and a group that wants to bring a team to Vaughn, Ont., there are at least two other factions interested in landing another NHL team for Southwestern Ontario.
“They have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole for a lot of years,” Healy said yesterday, in reference to the failure of the Sun Belt teams in the NHL. “They have tried everything in the world to sell the game, market the game, put fans in the seats and it doesn’t work for a lot of reasons.
“You can go down a laundry list of why it hasn’t worked — it doesn’t have the corporate backing, management has been ineffective in putting a winning team on the ice, and so on.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
A gap in the NHL’s drug-testing policy may not be closed because the league and the National Hockey League Players’ Association cannot agree on how to deal with it.
According to the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, players are not tested during the playoffs and the off-season, which leaves five months — April through August — during which the players do not have to worry about passing a drug test. The league says it is in favour of year-round testing, but the union has reservations due to privacy concerns.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
• Speaking of making sense, there is nothing more absurd in sports than the NHL’s revenue-sharing system, under which the Maple Leafs, the league’s wealthiest and most profitable franchise, get a rebate check worth between $4-4.5 million because the rest of the teams’ combined payrolls created an excess of escrow money.
The Maple Leafs did not come close to spending at the $56.7M cap, coming in at an approximate $49M. They invested, what, maybe 40 percent of their hockey-related revenue on payroll, yet they will get a refund because other teams invested up to 65 percent of their income on players?
That would be tantamount to the Yankees getting revenue-share money from MLB because the Royals, Pirates, Marlins and Rockies went on a spending spree.
• Understand this: The NHLPA will decide whether the cap remains flat, goes down slightly or increases again through its decision on whether to trigger the automatic 5-percent bump. The decision will be made by a vote of the 30 player reps, presumably at the conclusion of the playoffs.
more NHL talk…
from Bob Condor of NHL.com,
The National Hockey League took its first shift Monday in this sun-drenched city during a press conference to highlight its move of the 2009 NHL Awards here June 18. While explaining this year’s event will feature more players, celebrities, business partners and fans than ever before, the League also announced it will be staging an all-day celebrity/pro athlete charity poker tournament June 17.
“For years there has been a charitable component to the Awards program,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at the Ghost Bar outdoor patio in the Palms Hotel Las Vegas high above the famed strip of hotels and casinos. “I am pleased to announce today that the NHL will team with Pokerstars.net and the NHL Players’ Association to present [the poker tournament] in connection with the 2009 NHL Awards.”
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
While the players initially benefited from the new labour deal — increases in league revenue led to an increase in the salary cap — they feel they’re once again bailing out bad owners and poor marketplaces.
“Why should we pay for the owners’ negligence?” remarked one player. “The players have gone out of their way to promote the game, do interviews and commercials. There are some owners doing the job and doing it well, but it’s all done individually, not by the league.”
The longer the players live with the labour pact, the better they understand its shortcomings. In the NBA, the players’ escrow contributions are capped at 10 per cent. In the NHL, there is no cap and potentially no limit to how much the players could lose.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Does the NHLPA think players will begin taking pay cuts en masse because an above-average second-line player is suggesting the concept? And what exactly does the PA have to fear? Shouldn’t part of its mandate be to make sure all aspects of the player’s well-being are addressed, not just the money issue?
As much as the NHLPA doesn’t like it, the hometown discount is here to stay. For some players, the notion of remaining in a place in which they are comfortable and playing for a team they know will be a long-term contender outweighs the prospect of making more money somewhere else. The NHLPA should accept and encourage players to do what is right for them as individuals.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province via the National Post,
Paul Kelly knows that soon enough the Gary Bettman-led NHL owners will be back for more goodies now that they’ve run over the players with a steamroller in the 2004-05 lockout when they established the salary cap.
At the moment, Kelly, the National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director, is just trying to gauge what sort of backbone the players might be able to grow over the next two years, when negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement will be underway. And he made clear the one thing that has galvanized the players’ thinking recently is the massive escrow payments, which are take a big chunk out of their paycheques this season….
“We’re finding every time we meet with the players there is more and more interest in the issues facing us and the league. They want to know more and more, and the thing that’s really got their notice is the high deductions from their cheques this season.”
The more the players learn about the issues and how the CBA affects their lives, the better able they might be to resist the owners’ next attempt, which likely will come in the form of trying to whittle down payments to players they wish to buy out - in other words, to chip away at guaranteed contracts.
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.
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