Kukla's Korner Hockey
The National Hockey League (NHL) was non-committal about players' future participation in the Olympics on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility that the Sochi Games might be the last to showcase the world's best players.
The three most powerful men in hockey - Rene Fasel, head of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association chief Donald Fehr - had no firm answers for reporters when asked whether NHL players would be back in four years' time.
"Yes, Rene would love for Don and I to say today that we are coming (to Pyeongchang), but he knows that's not the case," said Bettman. "This is the fifth time we have participated in the Olympic tournament - where we are in this process should not be a shock to anybody."
In North America, talk persists that Sochi will mark the final time that NHL players will be seen on Olympic ice. Bettman insisted nothing has been decided and negotiations would continue, as has been the case after every Winter Games.
"Let's try to be very clear, it's nothing that's been discussed, it's nothing that will be discussed while we are here in Sochi," said Bettman.
On Tuesday, NHL commission Gary Bettmann, players association chief Don Fehr and Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, will meet with the media in Sochi. What they’ll say is unknown, but the league’s braintrust — Bettman and his No. 2, Bill Daly — have been saying that Sochi will be the last go-round for the NHL and there won’t be any NHL players in Pyeongchang in 2018. Their desire is to relaunch the World Cup, but they’re dreaming in technicolor if they believe that tournament would generate the kind of passion and following the Olympics inspire.
In the space of about five minutes, for example, American T.J. Oshie became a worldwide phenomenon when he scored four goals in six shootout attempts in the Americans’ 3-2 win over Russia on Saturday. Just under a million tweets were sent out about Toshie in the 4-1/2 hours following the game. U.S. president Barack Obama tweeted about the St. Louis Blues forward. So did movie stars and NFL and Major League Baseball players.
Do you think that would happen at a World Cup? Let’s ask a tougher question. Do you think Vladimir Putin owns a box set of Fawlty Towers?
-Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province. More from Willes at Canada.com looking at the injury factor of players.
from Denis Gorman of Metro New York,
Metro: How would you describe the relationship between the PA and the NHL one year after the lockout?
Fehr: I think the answer to that is “professional.” I think it is direct. Hopefully it is maturing. There is a lot of ongoing communication between our offices as we attempt to complete the agreement and operate. … Hopefully that will continue to develop.
What do you think was the biggest gain for the players in the new CBA?
There were all kinds of things that were in there, all kinds of improvements in working conditions and various kinds and sorts of things. You can talk about what it had been if the union hadn’t been there or the players hadn’t been willing to take the stand that they did. But I will tell you the one that I think on a personal basis was very satisfying and that’s the [pension plan] we have in effect. It covers last year and this year; this is the second year of it. We [think] it’s quite a good thing for players for decades to come, I hope.
You have talked about the future of the sport in positive terms. Where do you see the league headed in the next five to 10 years, and how does that compare to the NFL, NBA and MLB?
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Its mission is to help former players and their families who are in financial distress. Reasons vary, from failing health to salary mismanagement. Approximately 75 to 100 receive assistance from the fund at any time.
In 2009, former Montreal tough guy Chris Nilan received help from the fund. Nilan was living in Oregon after undergoing treatment for alcohol and painkiller abuse. Nilan accepted approximately $1,000 per month for about eight months.
“It wasn’t a lot of dough,” Nilan said. “But it was much-needed at the time. It really helped me out a lot the first few months.”
This season, under the guidance of senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, the NHL has identified 33 acts worthy of fines or suspensions. The amount of fines is $1,574,204.01.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
If you ask anyone from the National Hockey League how business is, they will smile widely, almost blushing, and say, “Business is gooooood.”
Which begs to repeat a question that was brought up a few years ago in Philadelphia: Why aren’t the alumni compensated for generating the interest, excitement and money they did on Tuesday?
They had their hotels paid for. Many were bussed in for the game.
But compensation? No, there wasn’t any of that.
It is really just part of the great paradox of professional sports, and an uncomfortable dilemma for the ever-growing hockey business. The more money made, the more bothersome it seems to hear of former NHL players in financial difficulty, unable to pay medical bills, in some cases penniless, and depending on the age of the player, a pension that is somewhat laughable.
The league has never been richer.
And, probably, it has never had more former players in need.
from Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston,
Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has decided not to appeal his 15-game suspension to an independent arbitrator for attacking the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik during a game at TD Garden on Dec. 7.
After the team's morning skate Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, Thornton said it was not an easy decision and he's had difficulty sleeping the last couple of days. He was even late getting onto the ice Tuesday because he was exhausting all his options with his lawyers.
Thornton, his agent and the Bruins felt that by the time a decision on the appeal was made, it actually wouldn't save him any games. He's eligible to return on Jan. 11 at San Jose.
Thornton said he'd rather not be a distraction for the team and wants to focus on preparing for his return. He thought there would be a hearing prior to Jan. 11 but it was not a guarantee that it would happen.
NEW YORK (Dec. 24, 2013) – Commissioner Gary Bettman today upheld the 15-game suspension that was assessed to Boston Bruin sforward Shawn Thornton by the Department of Player Safety for punching and injuring an unsuspecting opponent,Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins, in NHL Game No. 438 at Boston on Dec. 7.
Commissioner Bettman heard Thornton's appeal at a hearing in New York on Friday, Dec. 20. The original decision was assessed Dec. 14.
The incident occurred at 11:06 of the first period. Thornton was assessed a match penalty for violating NHL Rule 46.15.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Thornton will forfeit $84,615.45. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
View Bettman's ruling here...
The next tweet from Bob McKenzie...
If, after receiving Bettman's judgment and narrative, Thornton wants to appeal that, he can go to independent arbitrator.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
This week, Bettman predicted the salary cap will rise to $71 million for the 2014-15 season and already the rumblings are it could shoot as high as $80 million for the following campaign.
The upshot is there will soon be more and more $10 million per season players dotting NHL rosters. The league minimum will rise at some point so every player in the NHL earns a seven-figure salary.
The man players were so quick to say was ruining the game and robbing their bank accounts has mapped out a strategy where all 30 teams in the NHL can claim to be on the road to financial health.
Lost in the players' rhetoric last winter was the fact many were being paid by franchises that couldn't cover the cheques as stand alone businesses.
Bettman's job was to make sure all league members could operate as sound businesses.
That, and the largesse bestowed upon the game's players, will be his lasting legacy.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
On that issue, the league feels its relationship with the players continues to grow stronger.
“There’s no doubt our ongoing relationship with the players' association is more regular and uniform that it has been in my memory,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Tuesday after the board meeting wrapped up. "We deal with them on all the issues associated with the game. We work through issues. Sometimes we don’t always agree, surprise, surprise. I think we have a strong working foundation and hopefully that will continue [to] improve in time.”
Then Bettman, standing next to Daly, said:
“I’d like to add to that that if you think that we went through a period where we had five different executive directors of the union in a relatively brief period of time. There is stability now in the union and that is a positive, not just for the players and the union; that’s a positive for us because you can’t build a strong working relationship based on trust when the cast of characters is changing every few months. So the strength and stability of the union, I think, is important as we try to accomplish the things we want to do moving forward.”
more BOG topics...
Stepehn Whyno of the CP at Yahoo writes about the small-market teams...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org