SBD/Issue 195/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Lack Of Activity At NHL Draft Blamed On Economy, Free Agency

    Burke Feels New Economic Environment
    Making It Hard To Trade Players In NHL
    This weekend's NHL Draft was "more about smoke than fire, with only two prominent players changing teams and half-a-dozen others still on board, awaiting word on their respective futures," according to Eric Duhatschek of the GLOBE & MAIL. The lack of moves, which is "becoming more pronounced every year, is tied inextricably to the upcoming free-agency period, and the uncertainty about how the market is about to unfold." Duhatschek notes if the "dollars paid out this year are down from the ridiculous sums commanded by players over the past two years, then the trade dynamic will change as well." If players such as restricted free agent Senators LW Dany Heatley "start to take deep discounts" when free agency begins Wednesday, it will become "even more difficult to peddle a player signed at the height of the NHL's wild post-lockout growth spurt" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/29). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch wrote there was "plenty of talk and not nearly as much action" at the draft. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli: "There's a general conservatism because of the uncertainty (with the salary cap and the economy). You feel the market is going to adjust and you want to experience that adjustment first before you start shuffling. That's the only reason I can think that there weren't many moves and that's the feeling I'm getting from speaking to a couple of GMs." Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke: "Right now, it's so hard to move guys, especially anybody who has any term left on their contracts. I thought there would be more activity. ... I'm not quite sure why there wasn't" (OTTAWA SUN, 6/28). In Nashville, John Glennon notes since the end of the regular season, "only a handful of significant players ... have re-signed with their team." Predators GM David Poile said that "one big reason is that there is a fundamental difference between teams and players regarding the salary cap for the 2010-11 season." Poile noted that the cap will "dip that season because of the bad economy, and that teams are structuring multi-year contract offers accordingly." Poile: "Players think that they're undervalued and that if they go to July 1st, they'll get more money. In a big sense, it's a little bit of a game of chicken" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/29).

    WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS ...: In N.Y., Larry Brooks reported the NHLPA "did not have enough player reps" at its meeting last week in Las Vegas to "tally the vote on the critical issue of voting on the 5[%] cap escalator clause that eventually was adopted through e-mail tally." A number of players "went to Las Vegas on the union's dime, partied, and never bothered to actually ... attend the meetings." Meanwhile, sources sthat the escrow withholding figure for last season "has been calculated at a staggering 15.9[%]," and players who "voted against the escalator did so in order to reduce escrow for the coming season." However, Brooks wrote such votes were "short-sighted and selfish, for it always is important to have the cap as high as possible and the most money possible in the system." A higher salary cap "means more available money for free agents -- and approximately five-sixths of the players in the NHL will become free agents during the term" of the current CBA, which expires in September '11 (N.Y. POST, 6/28).

    BUMP UP: In Detroit, George Sipple noted the NHL and NHLPA Friday announced that the salary cap for next season will be $56.8M, an increase of "just $100,000 from this past season." The cap "would have dropped if the players had not voted in" the escalator clause. Sipple noted the Red Wings were "hoping to work out a long-term contract" with RW Marian Hossa at an average of $4M per season, but with the cap "barely increasing, it will be difficult to bring him back without additional roster maneuvering" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/27).

    FEELING A DRAFT: Lightning Exec VP & GM Brian Lawton said the franchise was “completely in agreement” on selecting D Victor Hedman with the No. 2 overall pick in the Draft despite reports of infighting between co-Owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules. Meanwhile, the Panthers drafted D Dmitry Kulikov with the No. 14 pick despite rumors he may return to Russia to play for the Continental Hockey League. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said “there’s a Russian factor at work,” as teams are scared about Russian-born players not coming to the NHL. McKenzie: “At the end of the day, a lot of people are still a little wary of the whole Russian factor” (“NHL Draft,” Versus, 6/26).

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  • No Guarantees Arena Football League Will Resume Play In '10

    AFL May Not Come Back From
    Restructuring Hiatus In '10
    It has been nearly seven months since the AFL team owners cancelled the '09 season, and despite "intermittent announcements from the league office that a relaunch is imminent, there are no guarantees" it will resume in '10, according to Laurence Miedema of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The AFL has employed three commissioners since last July, and a plan to resume play in '10 that had the "backing of the players apparently was scuttled in April because of infighting among owners." SaberCats VP Hank Stern said the league is "working hard" to return in '10. Stern: "That's why our ownership has kept myself and a couple of the coaches around." SaberCats QB Mark Grieb: "It was sad when the league folded, because all the momentum we had is gone. Anything they do is starting from ground zero." Miedema notes AFL officials this spring "posted messages on the AFL's Web site suggesting a new plan was about to be ratified, but they have been surprisingly silent for two months." AFL interim CEO Mark Lewis did not return messages and there has been "no acknowledgment of the recent hiring of Lewis" on the league's Web site. AFLPA President James Baron: "Everybody is out of the loop, which is the frustrating part. As players, we're angry because we did everything we could to rectify the situation" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/29).

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  • IndyCar Series To Look At Lack Of Passing After Race "Procession"

    Dixon Apologizes For Overall Lack
    Of Passing In SunTrust Indy Challenge
    IndyCar driver Scott Dixon, who won Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond Int'l Raceway (RIR), was "apologetic" after winning the race, as the series seems to "resemble NASCAR more and more" due to a lack of passing, according to Gary Graves of USA TODAY. Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Hideki Mutoh were the only drivers to lead the 300-lap event. Dixon said, "It was a bit of a procession, unfortunately. It was very tough to pass because of the track. I think it's just the last couple of years we've slipped into a car that is not enabling a whole lot of passing." IRL VP/PR John Griffin indicated that the league's "chassis and setup package ... has leveled competition in terms of passing." He said that the series "is considering changes to enhance competition that could be in place before season's end" (USA TODAY, 6/29). Dixon: "Once you got to lapped traffic it was very hard to pass. It was a frustrating night" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 6/28). The AP's Hank Kurz Jr. wrote the "lack of passing made it more closely resemble a parade." Franchitti said it was an "awful, awful race." RIR President Doug Fritz "did nothing to mask his disappointment with a race that was missing what fans come to see." Fritz: "I wish we had seen more passing and more lead changes and more side by side racing." Kurz noted IndyCar Series and ISC officials will meet tomorrow "to continue discussions about whether the series will return" to RIR in '10 (AP, 6/28).

    SPEED HUMP: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin discussed the speculation surrounding former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler's The Wheeler Company possibly offering marketing support to the series. Cavin: "His company could certainly take a different look at the IndyCar Series, but I wouldn't want it in a decision-making role. The good thing is, I don't think the board members will relinquish control to an outsider again" (INDYSTAR.com, 6/27).

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  • League Notes

    NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported while only two first-round NFL draft picks having signed contracts is "normal" for this time of year, what is "abnormal is you look at Rounds 3-7 and we're at about 80 guys being signed.” La Canfora: “At this point a year ago it was about 50. … Talking to people around the league, feeling it out, we talk about the economy all the time (because) it's a reality. The players would rather get this money in their pockets now rather than later and wait a few extra weeks.” Meanwhile, teams also are factoring the economy into negotiations. La Canfora: “Why not just spend that and get your kids signed and have that rookie take that roster spot sooner, spend the money on him rather than someone who's probably not going to make your team" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/26).

    Packers' Profit Appears To Hurt NFL
    Owners' Argument For Opting Out Of CBA
    RUNNING WITH THE PACK: SI.com’s Ross Tucker wrote the Packers’ recent announcement that they had an operating profit of more than $20M last year “appears to hurt the owners' argument that opting out of the latest [CBA] with the players was necessary.” Tucker: “If a franchise in a miniscule market can turn a profit during a historically down economy, what does that say about big money owners like Dan Snyder and Robert Kraft? … In light of the Packers finances, the supposed plight of the owners' is much less convincing. I'm sure the NFL Players Association is taking notes” (SI.com, 6/26).

    WEATHER OR NOT: USGA Exec Dir David Fay addressed the question of whether golf courses on the West Coast are “looking better” for future sites of the U.S. Open after rain plagued the event two weeks ago on Long Island. Fay: “While you may not deal with rain and thunderstorms on the West Coast, fog can gum things up. And there’s that little thing called earthquakes.” He added, “I like the idea of the Open and all our championships being movable feasts” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).

    MINOR LEAGUE, MAJOR RESULTS: Goldklang Group President Mike Veeck said minor league baseball is succeeding despite the down economy because “people are in desperate need, not just of economic relief in terms of being able to afford, but I think there’s a need like I haven’t seen for a long time for the balm of one another’s company.” Veeck said his teams have taken "hits in the corporate support," but attendance “across the board is up” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 6/28).

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