Archive for the ‘Lockout News’ Category

Every week I take Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” blog, pick what I deem to be the most interesting, and elaborate on his points. I do that, because in my opinion, Elliotte is the most informed, honest journalist in hockey.

Today he wrote a post about the current state of the lockout, and predictably, it made a ton of sense.

“We know [Bettman, Don Fehr and their negotiators] are tough guys,” one high-ranking team executive said. “They’ve proven they can say no. Congratulations.

“Now where are the people worrying about the best interests of the game? Who represents the people who’ve worked hard for years to make it what it is?”

Even those who are supportive of the players are sick of hearing how hated Bettman and Jacobs are. Even those who support the league are sick of hearing how Fehr only says no. They are sick and tired of the spin — and these are prominent people inside the sport, people who understand that both sides have legitimate grievances.

They just want people brought in who can actually close this deal because right now the problem is that while players want to play, what’s on the table isn’t good enough to get them to say OK. Same goes for the owners. They see the finish line, but important hurdles prevent them from getting there.

What really infuriates everyone is that they look at Bettman and Fehr and say: “They’ve each got one more move left in them, but they’re just waiting. They’re waiting for the real drop-dead date.”

The drop dead date – rumoured to be in early January – isn’t that far off. And, that’s fine. I don’t care about anything but getting hockey back at this point.

(Al Goold, algooldphoto.com)

With the NHL lockout in full non-swing, many of the league’s best and brightest are plying their trade overseas in Europe and Russia. All-Stars like Henrik Zetterberg, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, and John Tavares escaped the day-to-day drudgery of the lockout to continue playing the game they love and keep in shape for the possibility of an NHL season.

Of course, the league’s dullest and most mediocre players have also been locked out, with many of them also looking for a place to play. Some of them, in fact, looked for an opportunity to be the superstars they never could be in the NHL.

It’s not surprising to see Jaromir Jagr putting up big points in the Czech league, even if he was drafted into the NHL the same year John Tavares was born. It is surprising, however, to see a borderline NHL player doing the same, even if it’s in the minorest of minor hockey leagues. In fact, the top four lockout scorers are not exactly top-line NHL talent.

Here are the four most unexpected lockout stars in Europe, with two of them being particularly surprising.

4. Erik Condra

Condra is the least surprising name on this list, thanks to a solid NCAA career for the University of Notre Dame, finishing just one point shy of a point-per-game with 158 points in 159 games. He also established himself as a solid AHL player before playing the full season with the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12.

It is unexpected, however, to see him dominate the second and third tiers of the German Bundesliga, scoring a total of 31 points in 14 games between the two leagues. In the second tier, Condra’s point-per-game pace of 1.71 is second behind only the Islanders’ Josh Bailey and ahead of the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds at third. 15 of those 31 points are goals, including 7 in his 7 games in the second tier.

Chris Stewart and Clarke MacArthur also play in the second tier of the Bundesliga and sit 11th and 16th in points-per-game, respectively.

3. Nick Bonino

Bonino has yet to play a full season in the NHL, though he did play 50 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season. Like Condra, Bonino was a standout in the NCAA, scoring 117 points in 116 games for Boston University. He is also just short of a point-per-game in the AHL. During the lockout, however, he’s just short of 3 points-per-game.

Bonino appears to be the only NHL player in the second tier of the Italian league, where he has scored 40 points in just 14 games for HC Neumarkt Egna. In the process, he’s helped his club to the top of the standings. It’s entirely possible that he shouldn’t be playing in that league, although he is only second in league scoring, albeit in 5 fewer games than his competitors.

His Italian heritage may have played a factor in choosing this league, but the chance to put up Gretzky-level point totals probably didn’t hurt.

2. Dale Weise

Weise has just 8 career points in the NHL, all last season with the Vancouver Canucks, but he does have a decent AHL resume and showed some scoring prowess in the WHL as well. That said, Weise is known more for his average knuckle-chucking and his drinking problem than he is known for being good at hockey, which is a little unfair given that he had one of the lowest offensive zone start percentages in the league last season. Man, it feels good to reference Behind the Net again. Stupid lockout.

In any case, Weise made his way to the Netherlands, where he has become a veritable superstar, with 30 points in 10 games for the Tilburg Trappers. He leads the league in points-per-game and is also fourth in penalty minutes thanks to a 25-minute match penalty for “fisticuffs,” according to Google Translate.

With Weise leading the way, the Trappers are currently first in the standings with a 12-2 record. The Trappers have lost just one game with Weise in the lineup, the same game that Weise received the penalty for fisticuffs. Weise scored 4 goals and added 3 assists in his most recent game, a 13-7 victory.

1. Paul Bissonnette

Unlike the previous three players on this list, Bissonnette has never had much offensive success at any level higher than the ECHL. His best offensive season was with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL, where he put up 42 points in 65 games in 2006-07. He has 8 career points in the NHL in 135 games and is far better known for his Twitter account than he is even for his fighting.

During the lockout, however, he is an offensive star in the United Kingdom. He currently has 19 points in 9 games for the Cardiff Devils, giving him a 2.11 points-per-game average, easily the best in the league. He scored his first goal just 72 seconds into his first game.

The Devils seem to like having Bissonnette around: they are organizing a Paul Bissonnette Night to “help raise funds to keep Paul as a Cardiff Devil for the remainder of the season or for as long as the NHL lockout will allow.” Considering they have a 7-2 record since he joined the team, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’d like to keep him.

The truly surprising thing is that Bissonnette isn’t the only NHLer in the Elite Ice Hockey League; he’s just the most successful. Drew Miller has 21 points in 15 games, Matt Beleskey and Tom Sestito have 20 points each in 17 games, and Anthony Stewart has a lowly 11 points in 18 games. In the UK, Bissonnette is a more dangerous offensive threat than any of them.

We’re not going to weigh in on this until we get more information, so for now, here’s a report from Steve Burton of CBS Boston:

Sources tell WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton that an unannounced meeting was held Monday with a high-ranking official from each side, and significant progress was made toward salvaging the hockey season. It’s possible an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow or Wednesday.

Burton spoke with Bruins forward Milan Lucic at Joe Andruzzi’s foundation dinner, and he’s very excited about the possibility of getting back to work.

“You know if your sources are correct obviously it’s great news,” says Lucic. “It’s great for the fans I think especially. I know they’ve been probably going through the most heartache than anyone.”

Updates to come.

***

UPDATE: Backhand Shelf still can’t confirm this, or come up with anything close to it. Take with a grain – or possibly shaker – of salt.

UPDATE TWO: Here’s the video, first seen on Puck Daddy:

UPDATE THREE: Yeah, everything we were hoping was true pretty clearly isn’t.

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If you haven’t yet heard, the NHL and NHLPA are taking CBA negotiation into unchartered territory – the players and owners are going to meet without any middle man, and they’re going to talk things out. And by “talk things out,” I mean “waste a buttload of time.” Excuse the pessimism, but there’s just no way any good comes of this (I explained why here, on Friday).

I think it’s safe to assume the players aren’t authorized to negotiate, and if they are, it’ll be with the same pre-set views that the owners are already aware of. If anyone thinks emotions (“C’mon guys, we just wanna play!”) are going to make one iota of a difference, they’re wrong. I’m just not sure what the point of jamming these two groups in a room is.

Anywho, the six players who are going to be in the room haven’t been selected yet, but a couple of leaders have.


The rest will be decided by the players when they meet before the meetings in New York.

Time for captain serious to put that semi-scowl to good use. Let the talking in circles begin!

“Here’s our stance.” 

“We know. Here’s ours.”

“Yeah, we know.”

“Your stance should be more like ours.”

“But it isn’t.” 

“But it should be.”

“Disagree.”

“Kay.”  Read the rest of this entry »

 

 

 

 So that went well. Time to decertify!

***

UPDATE:

Statement from Bill Daly:

      “Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS mediators and representatives of the NHL Players’ Association.  After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time.  We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful.”

And here’s what Don Fehr had to say, via Dan Rosen:

“Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS. This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.”

Yikes. Sort of a “we can’t help you unless you want to help yourselves” situation.

I can dig what Glendale is going for here. If my city were footing the bill for an NHL team it couldn’t afford I’d like to not have the team named after a different city.

So…the Arizona Coyotes it shall (likely) be!

From “Sports Document’s.com, this:

One of the quirks of the draft arena management deal (the City of Glendale, where the Coyotes play, will be paying the Jamison group $320 million over 20 years to run the rink), requires the new team owner to change the franchise’s name, so long as said move is “commercially reasonable”:

Read the rest of this entry »

Welp, it’s finally happened. I’ve complained about the NHL and NHLPA not using a mediator (as the NFL and NBA did) to reach a resolution a number of times on this site. I figured they hadn’t yet because the NHL wouldn’t like what they had to hear, and thus knew it would be pointless to go down that road.

What I didn’t know, is that when the NFL and NBA brought in federal mediators…it didn’t work. Like, at all.

James Mirtle explained today:

[...]Both the NFL and NBA went through it during their lockouts in 2011 and, other than consuming a few days, the non-binding process didn’t solve much. The NBA experience was particularly relevant as it came almost exactly 12 months ago during what was supposed to be the early portion of that league’s regular season.

George Cohen, the mediator in that case, coaxed the league and players into three marathon days of meetings that were kept largely out of the media. The end result, however, wasn’t much progress.

“No useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time,” Cohen said at the end of Day 3.

Well, shit.  Read the rest of this entry »