Coming back to hockey, ever so slowly

With the lockout now resolved, hockey fans everywhere can rest easy knowing that the game they love will indeed be returning for an abbreviated season.

Getting past the pain, frustration and other negative feelings created by this work stoppage will be difficult. In fact, many fans probably won’t come back during the shortened 2013 season. I’m even at a bit of a loss in terms of where I stand as the season is set to begin. I’m certainly glad that I’ll get to watch the Sabres and maybe even catch a few games live. But at the same time the lockout left me with a very empty, lethargic feeling about the NHL and hockey as a whole. Continue reading

With 82 games off the table, it’s time for a deal

The deadline has arrived. Whatever that means. Based on the last serious round of CBA negotiations, the League had put a finger on today to come to an agreement on a CBA while still fitting in an 82-game season. The day has arrived, yet no agreement is in sight.

 

 

The NHL and NHLPA have spent more time on the PR battlefield rather than the board room after a fresh set of offers were rolled out a week ago in hopes of ending the most recent NHL lockout. While the NHL came all the way down to a 50/50 revenue split, there were wrinkles in their offer that still irked the players. That led to the inevitable counteroffer(s) from the PA which basically revolved around their desire to have pre-existing contracts paid for in full.

The NHL will withdraw their most recent offer but only to accommodate for a regular season that will have far fewer than 82 games.

 

 

 

For most fans, the offers introduced last week probably seem pretty black and white. The league is striving for a 50/50 split, while players still want to be paid the money they were promised when they signed their contracts. It is fairly basic when the big picture is considered. However, for the two sides remain far apart in a battle over a $3.3 billion pie and the 2012-13 season hangs in the balance.

 

Since the 82-game season is now on the shelf, understand that this doesn’t mean that the season is completely out of the question. All this means is that fans are likely looking at something closer to a 60 or 50-game season. Of course, the two sides need to actually sit down and have a real conversation. If they could suck up their pride, start with the 50/50 split and work from there, perhaps there would actually be room for a deal to be made.

To this point those words have been as empty as an Islanders home game. Now the only mission between the league and PA should be to ensure that hockey is played this year.  Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast Episode 20 – Locked Out

The lockout is indeed on. While the CBA arguments went beyond the September 15 deadline, regular season games have now been cancelled and this has become a very real thing. Eric and I sat down to discuss the lockout, solutions for it and a host of other topics. We tackle the Alumni Plaza and, of course, play a little plus/minus.

Amerks (Sabres) Season Preview: Forward thinking

Looking around the hockey world, there are plenty of players getting bumped off rosters due to the influx of skaters and goaltenders previously slated for the NHL. The effect will be felt across Europe and particularly at the AHL level.

While individual AHL teams will benefit from skaters on entry-level deals making their way down to the developmental league, the players who would have typically battled for one of the final roster spots are likely destined for other locations.

Rochester serves as a perfect example of this as a few tryout players and summer free agent signings have suddenly found themselves on a roster with a lot more talent than originally expected.

Marcus Foligno and Cody Hodgson were each expected to be in Buffalo to start the season with Luke Adam, Kevin Porter, Nick Tarnasky and Corey Tropp were all expected to at least push for a roster spot with the big club. Now, those six join 14 other forwards who now face a much more daunting task in making the AHL club.

Those who are most affected by the infusion of talent are; Riley Boychuk, Maxime Legault, Jonathan Parker, Frederick Roy and Jamie Wise. Boychuk and Parker each saw time in the ECHL last year, while Legault has stuck with the organization on AHL contracts over the past few years. Roy and Wise each made a positive impression at development camp, but are behind far more skaters than they would have been after their camp performances earlier in the summer. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast Episode 19 – Collective Bracing

Back for another episode, Eric and I talk a bit about how awesome home World Cup qualifying matches are (Eric just returned from Columbus), how terrible things are starting to look regarding the impending lockout and play a bit of plus/minus.

As always, catch me at @2ITB_Buffalo and Eric at @3rdManIn

Both PA and owners to blame as lockout looms

It seems like such a short time ago that fans were clamoring for details on the labor strife in the NHL. Seven short years it has been since the last lockout and the NHL seems set on yet another.

All it took was a lost season and fans for the owners and players to come to an agreement in 2004-05. Granted, the players were poorly represented and the league as a whole was in desperate need of an overhaul to the CBA. Yet the rapid growth the NHL has enjoyed since the last lockout has done little more to muddy the waters between the NHLPA and owners.

Point fingers if you must at the greedy millionaires and billionaires. Point fingers at Gary Bettman for trotting towards his third work stoppage. Point fingers at whoever you need to blame in this situation. Just understand that this is a two-way street but the owners are driving a much wider vehicle.

By no means am I a CBA expert, so I won’t try and talk number percentages or about any of the other specific details that will ultimately be hammered out over the next few days, weeks and months.

What is so perplexing in this entire scenario is the glaring ignorance portrayed by both sides. The league and owners, as a group, are far and away the greater perpetrators here but the NHLPA should not be fully absolved of blame. Fact is that both sides took their sweet time to talk despite staring at a situation that pointed towards a drawn out negotiating process. Continue reading