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
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 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.
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
I’m going to be making up a few more. But I’d like to start here:
Back for a new season, 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
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
Might this lockout be a good thing? Not for the game or fans, mind you; but for the season.
When I look at the Sabres past few seasons, there has been a significant lull in performance at some point. Whether that came at the beginning of the year (2010-11) or in the middle of the year (2011-12), the team has suffered from a drop off that ultimately cost the team wins and position in the standings.
Obviously last year’s mid-winter slump was centered around injuries and horrible play, but fatigue and the grind of the season likely had something to do with it. Since it seems as if a lockout is inevitable at this point, could it be somewhat beneficial for the Sabres to play a shortened schedule?
Perhaps a shortened season would allow for Buffalo’s offensive players to stay fresh over the entire course of the season. The same would go for the goaltending and defense. In fact, shortening the schedule could be massively beneficial for Ryan Miller, whose workload would potentially go from 60+ games to 40+ games. That is, of course, if Lindy Ruff utilizes Jhonas Enroth properly.
There are a few permutations here that serve as counterpoints to this train of thought. First, a shorter schedule would also cause the league to condense games into a smaller package in hopes of keeping the 2012-13 season to an adequate length. This will cause more back-to-back matchups and could potentially create more wear and tear on the players.
Secondly, every team will be playing a shorter schedule. Because of that, every team will reap the same benefits from trimming the schedule down from 82 games. It’s not as if the Sabres are tailor-made to sprint as opposed to finishing a marathon or gaining any sort of added advantage compared to the rest of the league. Continue reading
Some people never learn. Of course, when you’re talking millions and millions of dollars, it is hard to figure out any sort of logic.
The last time hockey fans were facing labor talks between the owners and Players Association, a lockout was nearly a certainty. What resulted was a lost season, a crap TV contract, fan apprehension and a complete loss of respect from a sports network capable of pumping any event full of propaganda.
Maybe losing any sort of foothold on ESPN’ airwaves was a minor setback, but “the worldwide leader” is nothing more than a televised tabloid capable of steering sports fans interest towards a singular message if they so choose. Regardless, the lost season in 2004-05 was a massive setback for the NHL and caused the necessity for a whole lot of rebuilding.
Only seven years later we are almost back to where we started. Salaries have ballooned (thanks to skyrocketing revenues) and the owners are getting over their heads when it comes to paying out cash. With just over a month to go, it appears as if the worst may be on the horizon, another lockout. Continue reading