(Pic from thespec.com)

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.

Last editionNHL lockout enters crucial week

Friedman’s column, November 6th: Silence is golden for NHL, players

Opening: This week’s 30 Thoughts opening discussed the general state of negotiations, and lays out how (and why) both sides are being cautious.

The players held back-to-back conference calls Sunday and Monday. They are much more careful with their optimism. There are two reasons for this: the botched Oct. 18 meeting in Toronto and Donald Fehr’s paranoia about ill-timed quotes.

In a nutshell, things are progressing, and some stupid public comments from either side could set things back, as once happened when Fehr was with the MLBPA. As we know, if things go the wrong way at this stage, we’re in for the long haul.

The opening also mentions that the NHL thinks Donald Fehr has been tone deaf about what the players really want: a deal. I don’t know how desperate the players are as a whole, but I do know that most of the guys I’ve talked to would rather play for less than not play at all. Then again, those guys aren’t businessmen, and know about as much as you orI about the process of negotiating a fair CBA.

2. I would absolutely agree with one thing the owner said: I was conservative. Since so many people are worried about getting fined for speaking (even anonymously), it was difficult to nail down every team’s position. I am confident in the accuracy of the teams I named, but am willing to concede there are others I may have missed.

Between points 1-7, Elliotte discusses the “hard-line” NHL teams who are more adamant about getting a good deal than getting back on the ice quickly, and he includes the fact that Carolina’s owner Peter Karmanos stood up at a meeting and said “If the players are willing to go 50/50 now, we should only give them 45%,” before eventually softening that stance because he likes his team and wants to see it on the ice.

I’m a little surprised by the sheer number of teams that seem to be hard-line (going off Friedman’s comments), which makes me realize that maybe this has been less about Bettman being a weaselly negotiator, and more about him sincerely representing his constituents.

9. Ryan Suter may have backtracked on his Craig Leipold comments, but he manned up to them. Never blamed the reporter for misquoting him or taking his quotes out of context. Good on you, Ryan.

Anglos are handcuffed by our inability to claim our point was “lost in translation.”

12. The one hang-up is that you might have to play the Stanley Cup final in July and, apparently, some in the league absolutely despise the idea. Admittedly, that sounds as tasty as a sandwich of month-old meat. But will the fans in markets that make it that far really be bothered by a late finish? And how different would the TV ratings be? For one year, would everyone put up with that?

This point is related to Elliotte asking “If the PA walked in today and said to the owners ‘guarantee the make-whole, let’s play 82 games,’ would the NHL complain? I agree that fans who have a rooting interest in their teams would still follow along, but man, I already hate that June comes into play as is. But I doubt the ratings would be all that different, and quite bluntly, yes, we could handle it for a year. At this point, I’m like a dog by table scraps, I’ll take anything.

13. Great point made by one source: How much pressure does the NHL feel to make traction and avoid negativity overshadowing the Hall of Fame ceremony next week?

Personally, I don’t think much. I mean, they just cancelled the Winter Classic two months in advance which is basically the main resource for generating goodwill towards hockey. I don’t think the League cares much about PR at this point.

14. Second great point from the same source: Will the NHL demand this deal be long enough so it doesn’t interfere with the league’s 100th anniversary, scheduled for 2016-17? Should speak to this guy more often.

Man, I dread the 100th anniversary. Hockey already has an obsession with nostalgia, I’m not sure I can take an entire season of self-love. But as someone who is coming to openly loathe the letters C, B and A, I’m in favour of any excuse to make the next deal extend as long as legally possible.

15. There’ve been complaints about retired players speaking out, saying the current guys should make a deal. I personally tended to agree this wasn’t their business, but a conversation between Kelly Hrudey and Pat Conacher on Monday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada Radio changed my thinking. Both, at one time, were willing to risk years of their career to fight for what they believed in – which benefited today’s players. That gives them the right to comment. And if Ted Lindsay was to say anything, should anyone tell him to be quiet?

Yeah, I’m glad Elliotte came around on this, because of course those guys have every right to weigh in on the lockout. There’s little to no doubt that most players would be better off financially getting paid less than not paid at all for a year to get a better deal, and they’re willing to do that. If new players are going to benefit from the better deal because of their efforts, they can sound off all they like.

23. Best guess: if the season starts December 1 (or a few days sooner), the number of games will start with a 7. And the regular season is extended a week or two beyond what was originally scheduled.

Ooo, that’s exciting talk. And frankly, I’d take a 60 or 70 game season over one that goes into July. Sign me up.

24. Alright, let’s do some hockey. You can tell people believe we’re getting closer to a resolution because trade-rumour insanity is hitting the internet. A lot of this is Oilers broadcaster Bob Stauffer’s fault, because he suggested Edmonton is prepared to make a big move. But Jordan Eberle for Roberto Luongo? Nail Yakupov for PK Subban? Get real.

Ha, funny, Ryan Lambert wrote about a potential Oilers trade for Backhand Shelf today. I don’t know where the Eberle for Luongo, Yakupov for Subban talk is coming from, but I’m guessing not from anyone who’s actually “of the game.” But I will say, and excuse my ignorance here, why is something like Luongo for Eberle ridiculous? Like, I’m genuinely not sure which way a deal like that qualifies as super-lopsided.

25. Don’t forget, though, out of the last lockout, Kevin Lowe snared Chris Pronger and Michael Peca, so there is historical precedent. Personally, I think the Oilers like Luongo a lot, but I’m not so sure the Canucks would want to send him to a rival – assuming the goalie even wanted to go there.

I clipped this thought just to ask: the Canucks and Oilers are rivals?

27. Was really impressed with Gustav Nyquist when his Grand Rapids Griffins played in Toronto, and wondered about his chances of making the Red Wings. Would Detroit really want him on the big club if he wasn’t playing a “top six” role?

This one’s an easy answer: Detroit started the following players outside the top 6: Datsyuk, Filpulla, Hudler, Kopecky, Franzen, Williams, and Cleary. Henrik Zetterberg was the only one to jump straight to the top-6 from the past 15 years (info from @67sound). Nine of their top guys in average time-on-ice last season were homegrown, with Bertuzzi and Cleary being the others (and Cleary started on the fourth line for them). This is what they do: they develop. Young talent of grinders.

So yeah, you have to believe that other players who started there – Abdelkader, Eaves, Emmerton and Helm – and others on the way -Nyqvist, Tatar and Brunner – could all go the same route to climb the depth chart.

(Incidentally, this is why @67sound goes mental when people say “Kadri/Colborne have to be top-6 to make the big club.)

29. As for the NCAA debate, I’ve been told one of the major reasons it holds firm on the CHL issue is that it doesn’t want its leagues flooded by Canadians. I’m OK with that. It’s an American developmental system.

I’m fine with the idea that it’s an American developmental system, because it is. I don’t blame them for not wanting a thousand Canucks. But as a guy who went the college route, I don’t want to see guys play in the CHL, try to make the NHL, discover they’re not there by 20, then carry on to college to continue to “live the dream.” You know how many hockey players just want to play hockey, and would jump at the chance to be guaranteed four more years? And after junior guys who don’t make it start thinking about their education anyway, so NCAA would be a no-brainer. Suddenly every guy not ready to go pro after playing in the CHL is just on to the next thing, older, and more appealing for the schools who want to win.

Comments (15)

  1. Excellent point on #29. 20 year old ex-CHL’ers trying to carry on a dream entering the NCAA would screw up everything so bad.

    ”I don’t want to rot in the ECHL or CHL making $400 bucks a week so I’m going to the NCAA to be worshiped by a group of my peers even more so than I was in the CHL. This is great!”

  2. Re: #14: Since the entire 2004-2005 season was washed out, I would submit that the 100th Anniversary should be observed during the 2017-2018 season. Sorry, I’m not willing to let the NHL get away with sweeping historical or present-day labor strife under the rug quite so easily.

  3. With his contract Luongo should have negative trade value. If I’m the Oilers I wouldn’t take him for free, let alone in exchange for Eberle.

    • I don’t see why everyone seems to think the Luongo contract makes him untradeable. I understand why teams like Florida wouldn’t be interested but for a market like Edmonton, I don’t see why it would hinder a trade. His cap hit is 9th among goalies which seems about right and he has already been paid 26% of the cash (more if you count lost earnings this season). It’s really not as onerous as everyone makes it out to be.

      Not saying that there aren’t other factors that would hinder an Eberle / Luongo trade but I don’t think the contract is one of them.

  4. the CIS Hockey league is a great destination for former junior players. It has some of the best hockey you can see for a cheap ticket, and alot of guys stay local to where they were playing Junior hockey so you can see some of your favorites from the CHL keep playing.

    I wish the league got the attention and credit it deserved, but it is by far a better league to watch than the NCAA.

    • “…it is by far a better league to watch than the NCAA.” – A thing that’s patently untrue.

      • I guess I should have worded it better since I didn’t mean to disrespect the talent of the NCAA teams.

        They’re older players for the most part, players closer to their prime and some very talented CHL players who weren’t able to make the jump to the NHL and decided to go for an education rather than play minor pro somewhere. Its a question of ages. Take players aged 18-22 on a team and put them out against 22-26 the older players should be better as they’ve entered their physical prime and have 4-5 more years of experience playing.

        • CIS team like Manitoba is in the regular season every year, when they visit UND in North Dakota.. The fighting Sioux usually handed maybe a handful of practices in at that point, and every year in the Siouxs first exhibition game the they crush the Bison!

          No bias, just facts folks…

          Also many rival NCAA schools accuse the Fighting Sioux of having too many Canadian kids.. I guess I don’t see the NCAA route as an American developmental league

  5. 12) SCF in July: How would that work with the draft and FA? Obviously those dates would need to be pushed back. Then too, what about the start of the next season. Not sure the players would be all that fond of an off-season shortened by an entire month.

    25) Canucks and Oilers: Not really a rivalry per se, but rivals in that they are in the same division.

    • 25) Agreed. Although, (I will probably get ripped on for this). Due in large part to the Canucks fans cockyness (they have been really good, they have the right) I personally know several Oilers fans in my mid 20′s age range who loathe the Canucks more than the Flames.

      As for this: “…it is by far a better league to watch than the NCAA.” – A thing that’s patently untrue. JB, would I be far off in saying the NCAA is the more superior league talent wise but due to experience-age (i.e some CIS guys have played in pro leagues, 4 years of CHL) that it may be the better played league? This has long been a discussion amongst some hockey fan friends and me.

      • NCAA teams would crush a CIS team..
        Pick a category: attendance, fan base, talent that goes on to play in the show, or in the boardroom.. Or in Justins case the editors spot!

  6. As far as Edmonton and Vancouver being rivals, maybe he’s making mention of them being division rivals, not necessarily true “rivals”.

  7. As an Oilers fan in Vancouver, I can say that the Canucks-Oilers battle is a classic case of unrequited rivalry. They’ve never been good at the same time, or played for anything particularly meaningful in recent memory, and the Oilers already have rivals in the Flames and Jets. Vancouver’s rivals are clearly the Blackhawks and now Bruins. But for years, they were such a woeful franchise that fans just picked the teams they beat often as ‘rivals’ and cheered like the Queen was in town to everyone’s confusion.

    Oh, hey, look at my bitterness. Maybe we’re rivals after all…

    • This is totally true, don’t think they have ever been good enough at the same time to generate a rivalry. I think it is more that they wouldn’t want to see someone in the division get better given the weighting in number of games.

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