Owner Ed Snider shakes player Sean O'Donnell's hand, because players and owners are besties in non-CBA years.

Thoughts on 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 edition: Holding the line on contracts

Friedman’s column, November 19th: Season of growing discontent

Note: There’s just not much breaking news in the world of the NHL these days, so Elliotte pared this week’s edition down to 20 Thoughts to keep it strong. I’ve selected to comment on less for the same reason.


In today’s opening Elliotte kicked around the idea of frustrated players and owners speaking out against their current sides. The risk for the owners is huge – a  million dollar fine, and Bettman’s general disdain, which could affect their ability to get all-star games, inclusion in the Winter Classic and more. But then there’s this, on the players:

But I do think some are intimidated by Fehr and I also think many of them saw what happened to Trevor Linden. Eight years ago, Linden decided to break away from then-executive director Bob Goodenow, give in to a salary cap and make the best possible deal. Linden was clobbered for it and his reputation smeared. How does history judge him now?

As Elliotte is implying, I think, history judges Linden more-than-favourably now. He just wanted to get a deal done. I wouldn’t be shocked if this things goes on too much longer if we here a player or two admit they just want to get a damn deal done, whether it costs them or not. Not playing sucks, not getting paid sucks, and guys are likely starting to get pretty pissed.

1. So what happened at the end of the Nov. 9 bargaining session, one that necessitated a meeting the next day between Bill Daly, Steve Fehr and Kevin Westgarth to calm the waters? As talks were falling apart, there was a verbal debate between Wild owner Craig Leipold and unsigned free-agent defenceman Chris Campoli, both of whom were upset by how things were going. Concerned things were going to escalate, Bettman stepped in. Then, some words wore exchanged between him and Winnipeg Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey.

I find this fascinating. I always sort of assumed that players that attended the negotiations just sort of hung out somewhere in the room and listened quietly while the lawyers did their thing. They’re directly interacting? I would kill to see that – especially if guys are getting all up in owner’s faces. They should physically threaten them like bullies, maybe?

Though, if you’re an “un-signed” player, is going at it with an owner the best decision? I mean, I doubt it’d make any difference if the team really wanted you, it just seems crazy. I’m also enjoying the randomness of the names that attend the talks. Somewhere today I read a sentence that included “Betman, Fehr and Kevin Westgarth…” …like…what? I need to get into one of these negotiating rooms one day.

3. Seravalli’s Daily News article (you can find that here) mentioned the Flyers were “interested in teaming up with the mid-market, high-revenue Pittsburgh Penguins to sway more governors toward a swift resolution.” Later, it stated the idea of using former U.S. President Bill Clinton as a mediator. Total longshot, but there is a connection. Penguins president David Morehouse worked in the Clinton administration. Wouldn’t we all like to see what would happen between Clinton, Bettman and Fehr? (Clinton used to be tight with Pittsburgh owner Ron Burkle, but that bromance reportedly is over).

Holy sitcom, Batman.

The tough part about bringing in someone to mediate, I imagine, would be the feeling of “you haven’t been here, you don’t know what we’ve been through”. It’s like getting a new teammate, or a new co-worker, and having them tell you what to do in their first week. When you’ve put so much time and effort into something, new advice from some dude who doesn’t know the ins-and-outs like you would difficult.

The Clinton thing seems silly just because he’s so high-profile, and we’re little old hockey. But obviously he’s capable of brokering big deals, so if he can help, by all means – someone get Prez Willy on the line.

10. I had a good debate with a couple of NHL executives who said they’d be disappointed if No. 87 played during the lockout. Look, it’s pretty obvious, Crosby’s heart isn’t really into the idea. Listening to him talk, you can see a lot of his frustration is because he doesn’t want to go anywhere. But the guy’s played just 69 games in two years, including playoffs. He’s going to have to do it eventually.

Yeah, absolutely he will. And actually, I had a similar debate about Rick DiPietro with someone when it was rumoured that he missed some games in Germany’s second division with a pulled groin.

Argument 1) As someone with an injury history who doesn’t actually want to go play overseas, why not stay home and let your body get as healthy as possible while the lockout endures? Use this break to get yourself back to 100%.

Argument 2) The NHL is the world’s best hockey league, and very few talents can go from not playing to jumping into it. Yes, Crosby could play at the NHL level after sitting around waiting, but not to his ridiculously high standards. As Elliotte got at, at some point, you have to get back into game action if you don’t want to waste your ability.

Crosby can sit around for awhile, but for sure – it’s only a matter of time before he has to go for it.

12. Two years ago, Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford explained his belief that you cannot truly judge a defenceman until he turns 24. Rutherford says it’s the hardest pro position to learn. While in special cases some become early superstars, you can find a diamond in the rough by waiting a little.

While the idea that there’s a hard number that hits and allows you to say “Okay now we know how good that player will be” is probably not bang-on, there’s no denying d-men mature later, and can contribute at a high level into later years than forwards.

I actually miss Chris Pronger (thing I never thought I’d type). That dude was going to earn his last (big) contract in Philly, I had no doubt.

14. That Lake Erie team is fast. “They play at NHL speed,” said one opponent. The Monsters are Colorado’s guys.

The fastest game I ever played in was against the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2008 (I think PA Parenteau was there at the time). I can’t imagine how fast the AHL is right now (to be on the ice I mean), and in turn, can’t imagine how fast the Stanley Cup playoffs must move, especially the first round. There are times watching some crap NHL game where I’ve thought in my life “I could keep up with that.” When I played against Hartford, I realized I had a ceiling. AHL fans must be loving life if the pace is that great right now.

18. Last year, the Wild used 51-year-old Paul Deutsch in an emergency situation, although he wasn’t needed for any game action. This time, the team held a local competition for the honour. It was supposed to be decided in a shootout during the second intermission of Sunday’s AHL game against Rockford. Of course, the two finalists tied, meaning there will have to be another showdown later. Great stuff.

This is excellent.

We’ve all seen and heard the stories of the emergency back-up that gets thrown onto the bench and sits in fear of the starter going out with an injury. Holding a contest for that right was an awesome idea. It should be called, like, “The Best Bad Goalie” contest or something. I used to love practices where an emergency guy would fill in because a goalie is hurt (or in the minors, because of a last-second call up). It was always fun to hammer slapshots hard (and low) from just inside the blue line, and see how far out you can get one to go in from.

20. I wanted to say thank you to everyone for the reaction to last week’s blog about my family. We must move past every hardship as quickly as possible. The overwhelming response helped. Thank you.

If you haven’t read Elliotte’s touching piece “The day that changed everything,” I recommend that you do now.


This week in “some commenters are terrible”:

The very first comment on Elliotte’s “30 Thoughts” blog this week was from a commenter under the handle “Tjinder,” who had this to say on what is routinely the best, most informed NHL blog every week:

First my condolences: grandparents are very special people, and you are lucky to have had your grandma around for all those years.

Second, can you please write about hockey that is being played? Are you okay with the fact that your job is basically to support the NHL corporation? Is that why you went into this business – to become a corporate writer?

Why not write about the CHL? AHL? KHL? Swedish Elite League? Anything.

It just seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars for you to continuously write about the NHL corporation, as if you’re only job was to keep the NHL corporation in the news, rather than write articles that are interesting and relevant.

Lastly, what is the contractual agreement between CBC and the NHL? Is this what is forcing you to write about the NHL?

How oblivious are some people? “To support the NHL corporation?” Elliotte covers the NHL for a living, and does it well. Would his space be better filled with CHL…what? Highlights? Analysis? Does this guy know he’s on the internet?? As in, if he wants to read about the CHL, AHL, KHL, or Swedish Elite League he can?

“A waste of taxpayer dollars?” What the hell is going on here?

I usually know better than to bitch about internet commenters, but good lord. For coherently written words, the thought process seems awfully jumbled.