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Thoughts on 30 Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new “30 Thoughts” article from Elliotte Friedman, but yesterday he gifted one to the world. He covered the obvious stuff – lockout progress – but also the Roberto Luongo situation, NHLers in the AHL and more. Let’s dive in.

Last edition: Zach Parise ran the show in free agency

Friedman’s column, October 22nd: NHL lockout enters crucial week


Elliotte crunches the numbers in the opening and breaks down just how quickly the league and PA would have to tidy up loose ends for there to be a full 82 game season. Bettman has made it pretty clear that his personal deadline for that is Thursday (the 25th), but Friedman figures there’s a handful of days wiggle room there, especially if the League torches the All-Star Game:

The now-vapourized NHL schedule ran from October 11 until April 13. That’s 185 days. If you cancel the All-Star Game (and you have to believe that’s likely), the league only needs 180 days, because that’s a five-day break.

I had to include that paragraph, because I love imagining the long, thoughtful debate about cancelling the ASG game – in Columbus, a team with almost zero all-stars – or not. I picture “The Bob’s” talking about it like they talked about Tom Smykowski in Office Space. “He’s gone.” “Useless.”

2. One thing about 2012 that is different than 2004: there’s not as much of a desire in the NHL or NHLPA to blow up the season (with one caveat to come). While there are hardliners, it’s nowhere near as widespread – including in the league office. The players were also more militant eight years ago. They don’t like what’s going on now, but they want to play.

I love the implication (okay, the reality) that at one point there was a desire to blow up a season. Sometimes people just out-smart themselves.

One thing I will say, is that players do want to play ASAP. They’ve all agreed to present that united front, but in truth (like the fans), they don’t care all that much who pays for the damn extra hotels rooms or extra trainers. Most are missing big paychecks, and don’t like the idea of missing a year of that (or at least making far less). I’ve only talked to a few guys, but it feels like the players might be putting a little behind-the-scenes pressure on to get this done.

Friedman gets to this point too:

5. Fehr doesn’t care what anyone outside his constituency thinks, but he’ll face similar challenges in the weeks to come. During the next two weeks, his players will be tempted.

Yeah, they are.

6. This is not the message the NHLPA should want to send: “Let’s put it this way – it would be better [for the players] if the lockout continues… Players want a definite answer. If the NHL season is lost,  let it be that way. I would then play in Russia for the whole season.” That’s Sergei Kostitsyn via Russia’s Sport-Express and The Globe and Mail.

I’ll say it: the Kostitsyn brothers seem selfish and generally oblivious – there’s a reason problems seem to follow them. We tend to put so much stock in a quote from a player that starts with “Players want…” but no two players are in the same situation, and these guys are not all on the same page. Him speaking for “players,” to me, carries less weight than what I hear Elliotte hears about what players want.

7. The emotions on both sides are as raw as I’ve experienced in 20 years. Some of that is social media. But the number of people (on both sides) who have fought with me or sworn they’d never talk to me again over something I’ve written/said is by far the most ever. Unfortunate, but not surprising. Shows how much anger is out there.

It does, but I really don’t get people from within the game who expect journalists to alter their message based on what’s best for them. Friedman talks to a lot of people, allows people to be anonymous sources, mixes in some of his own opinion, and keeps people informed. It’s why he’s so widely read and appreciated. Of course, there are secrets he’s agreed to honour with certain people (I would assume), but you can’t do it all the time. You have to walk the line.

Some reporter should give a coach shit for making a bad decision that cost their team a game and say “had you just done X, which I would have preferred, it would’ve been far better for my game story.”

8. Here are two questions the owners should think about this week: How much is your franchise worth if another year is gutted? And, if you really are interested in winning the Stanley Cup, what will decreasing the players’ existing contracts do in your dressing room? 

To the second part of the question, I ask: what’s the difference? If your team had to hack contracts, so did other teams, so it’s a level playing field in that regard. No player has any reason to be any more upset than any other player. I don’t see how that’d affect your teams chances of winning the Cup. It’s like bad ice – if our team is suffering through it, so is theirs.

11. If the NHL and the NHLPA want to make money now, they should sell a pay-per-view broadcast of both sides watching each other’s media conferences.

I’d pay. I can’t see Fehr over-reacting, but I could see Bettman watching Fehr and either A) accidentally snapping the pencil he’s holding, B) shattering the glass of water in his hand with a solid squeeze, or C) painfully grinning sarcastically and trying not to randomly stab the closest person.

14. Roberto Luongo: Really believe the Canucks want to do right by him. He showed up at their golf tournament after all of the trade stuff got out and they appreciated it. To me, the biggest question is: does the new CBA include that rule where the cap hit reverts to the Canucks if he retires? Because, if it does happen, does Luongo’s value go up?

I really don’t get this, though I saw a number of people say something similar. I mean, if you trade for Luongo and he retires, he’s off your books. If you trade for him and he retires (and the cap hit goes back to the Canucks)…he’s off your books.  I thought this was a league of GMs not trying to screw other GMs over.

16. I do believe the Maple Leafs and Canucks are far down the road in these conversations. But nothing is done until it’s done. And, if the Blackhawks (or someone else) like the look of that new rule, it creates a market for Mike Gillis to ask for more for Luongo. Would certainly be ironic if the legislation Brian Burke wanted costs him a player he’s interested in.

Okay, I think I get this: so if it’s someone like the Blackhawks, there’s the chance that an early retirement screws over a rival, instead of just coming off your books. The concept I dig. But if you’re okay with fucking over a Conference rival, why the ixnay on RFA offer sheets?

I guess my point is, I just don’t think that proposed rule changes anyone’s value all that much.

20. Then there’s Justin Schultz. Oklahoma City tracks individual player plus/minus for scoring chances. “After Friday night’s game [a 5-2 win over San Antonio], assistant coaches Gerry Fleming and Rocky Thompson said Justin was a plus-10,” head coach Todd Nelson said. “Then they said, ‘We’ve never seen that before.’ I haven’t either.” 

Plus/minus scoring chances is a terrific, telling stat. I wrote briefly yesterday on the success Schultz is having in the AHL. Man that has to hurt if you’re the Ducks. But if you’re a fan of the Oilers, you really really need that whole new building thing to get taken care of so you don’t miss the chance to see this team mature.

25. From Robin Lehner’s twitter account (@RobinLehner) on August 10: “My BMW drives on gas, the Audi on diesel and My fuel is haters! Thanks for pushing me forward!:)” Lehner fought Riku Helenius in a game Binghamton blew a 5-0 lead. This guy is a gold mine for media. 

He’s both a gold mine, and a potential trainwreck. Fun! I posted his scrap with Riku Helenius yesterday, and got some feedback online from AHL writers who explain that Lehner, on top of being a quote machine, also has “The Hextall Switch,” which can be both good and bad. You certainly want your tender to care, but man, you don’t want him to be a distraction.

29. If there’s one thing that drives me insane about the NCAA, it’s this: I can go online right now and buy a customized University of Wisconsin jersey with “Kerdiles” and the number 17 on the back for $135. Nic Kerdiles sees none of that. But a photo of him holding a “BioSteel” supplement leads to an investigation that costs him 10 games. It’s outrageous and, when it comes to the NCAA, it happens in every sport.

As wonderful as the NCAA is, there’s no denying it exploits its players. That said, I’m more mad at the suspension than I am the fact that players don’t get money for their name. They probably should, but during my college playing days, I got a (free) education, played some excellent hockey, was given the chance to move on, and generally feel I was given what I was worth. I suppose if I were an NCAA stud it’d be different, but for your average guy, the deal isn’t so bad.