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SBD/October 11, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
After two sessions of CBA talks yesterday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league "has received indication that the NHL Players' Association is putting together a proposal, and the NHL is urging the union to make it," according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. Daly said that "a 'variety of sources' both privately and publicly tipped off the league that the union was working toward putting forth a new offer." Strang wrote the NHL has been "imploring the union to submit something new for weeks and hopes the possibility might jumpstart a negotiation process that has become stagnant." Sources said that the NHLPA also is "encouraging the league to make moves of its own." Strang wrote even if the league's next proposal "doesn't include significant movement on economic issues, it is believed the union would like to see some concessions made in other areas, such as the contracting issues." Daly said that "little progress was made" in a small, private session with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr prior to yesterday afternoon's larger group session (ESPNNY.com, 10/10). CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty noted the two sides today are "supposed to engage in a full day of talks," but "once again they won't be hitting on the 'core economic issues' of the lockout." Instead, they will "continue discussing things like player safety, ice surfaces, and which side is responsible for picking up the tab for additional trainers placed on each team's medical staff." Sources said that the NHL has "essentially said there's no reason to speak about core economic issues until the players are ready to absorb pay cuts for next season" (CSNNE.com, 10/10). In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi wrote, "This is how embarrassing things have gotten for the NHL and the NHL Players Association: They couldn't even agree on what the labor talks were about on Wednesday" (PHILLY.com, 10/10).
FINDING THE ROAD TO RESOLUTION: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote, "My belief is that in order for the NHL to get that new proposal from the NHLPA that it is so craving, the league is going to have to show compromises as well, specifically in the area of individual player contracts." The league has "never officially taken off the table its list of desired changes to player contracts from its initial proposal, such as extending the entry-level contract system from three years to five years, the elimination of salary arbitration, moving the eligibility age for unrestricted free agency to 10 years of NHL service and the crackdown on back-diving contracts (front-loaded cheat deals)." LeBrun: "However, I do believe that if the league is willing to officially drop some of the other systemic changes it proposes in player contracts, it might help NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr go to his constituency and gauge the level of interest in submitting a new offer to the league that also shows more compromise, obviously in the area of the players’ share from hockey-related revenue" (ESPN.com, 10/10). Sharks LW Ryane Clowe said, "Players are on the same page. No one's cracking. We're informed and updated and guys have a good understanding of what's going on." Clowe also said that he "found it 'astonishing' the way in which owners have respected the gag order imposed" by Bettman during the lockout. Clowe: "I'm sure there are owners that want to be playing now and probably like our last proposal. Obviously Gary has done a good job keeping the reins tight. But I can't believe how the owners are kept on the back burner like that" (ESPN.com, 10/10).
WHAT'S AT STAKE: Daly estimated that "at least $230 million of revenue has been lost due to the canceled games and the wiping out of the entire preseason." Daly: "Obviously we lost about $90 million with losing the preseason. I would say with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, we’re probably in jeopardy of losing about another $140 million." In California, Eric Stephens noted the "lack of operating costs by teams will negate some of those losses," but the "longer the arenas remain dark, the more potential revenue disappears and the more fans get used to life without NHL hockey" (OCREGISTER.com, 10/10). In N.Y., Klein & Belson write, "Ultimately what the NHL is sacrificing in this latest lockout cannot be measured solely in attendance or revenue figures." Bettman and the owners are "risking the momentum they have built." The last five Stanley Cup winners came from L.A., Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit, "all big American markets." The NHL has a "lucrative TV contract" in the U.S., a 10-year, $2B deal it "signed with NBC last year." Former Rangers GM Neil Smith said, "They've really grown the last few years. But with this lockout, they're going to lose momentum, no matter what." Klein & Belson write, "Sooner or later, the league will find out what opportunity may have been lost" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).
MOTION DENIED: In L.A., Helene Elliott noted the Alberta Labour Relations Board "dismissed an application" by the NHLPA to declare the lockout illegal in Alberta and allow the Oilers and Flames to "conduct training camp and other business as usual." The board noted that the NHL and the players’ union "had, at various times, argued a position opposed to its current stance." Board Chair Mark Asbell said that the board "had many reasons to exercise its discretion and not make a declaration of unlawful conduct and not to issue any remedy for several reasons" (LATIMES.com, 10/10). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside asked, "What, exactly, was the point of the labor board exercise?" Had the NHLPA been successful, two of the NHL's 30 teams "would have had to pay their players the salaries due this season and the players could have gone about their business using team facilities, etc." Oilers and Flames players "would have been happy, although one wonders how their brethren on the 28 other teams, who will start missing paychecks in a matter of days, would have felt" (ESPN.com, 10/10).
IN THE MEAN TIME...: In N.Y., Mark Everson writes, "Fears remain that malicious play could occur, prompted by resentments that the NHLers are displacing -- and only temporarily -- locals on European rosters." Those concerns also give NHL owners "reason to worry about their locked-out overseas players, fearful that injuries might leave them without their stars when the NHL finally resumes play" (N.Y. POST, 10/11)....In Vancouver, Elliott Pap notes tickets for the Oct. 17 Bieksa's Buddies charity game at the Univ. of British Columbia “carry a face value of $20 before service charges,” but they were being advertised yesterday on Craigslist for "anywhere from $60 to $75.” Canucks D and game organizer Kevin Bieksa said, "I don't see why guys are selling tickets for three, four, five times as much when it's priced low to give fans a cheap opportunity to see players play during the lockout.” Canucks LW Daniel Sedin said, "It's embarrassing" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/11).
Hendrick Motorsports announced this morning that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup races this Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and next Sunday at Kansas Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion following a crash last week at Talladega Superspeedway. Regan Smith will be the team’s substitute driver at both of the races (Hendrick Motorsports). Earnhardt at a press conference today said the concussions symptoms began after a testing session in Kansas last month where he crashed. He said, “You know your body and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right. But I decided to just push through and work through it.” Earnhardt said he was "still having some headaches" yesterday stemming from Sunday's crash. He said, "That was really the only symptom that I was having ... so I took it upon myself to contact my sister, we talked about seeing a neurosurgeon. And we ended up getting steered toward Dr. Petty.” After several tests and an MRI, “everything looked good there but I was really honest" with Dr. Jerry Petty. Because of that, Petty "couldn’t clear" Earnhardt to race. Earnhardt noted he “got a lot of support" from his team and also said he “regrets not seeing anybody” after his wreck in Kansas. Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick said, "One thing everybody admires about Dale is how honest and upfront he is. ... I think a lot of guys would try to play hurt.” Hendrick said, “I always want to be on the side of safety” (Speed TV, 10/11).
END OF HIS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES: The AP’s Jenna Fryer notes Earnhardt sitting out the two races ends “the championship chances of NASCAR's most popular driver.” He was able to “drive his car away from the accident" at Talladega, thus was “not required to go to the care center for an examination at the time.” NASCAR in '02 strengthened its commitment “to keeping drivers with concussions off the track ... in part because Earnhardt admitted he was unable to fully concentrate or communicate with his crew chief after an accident at California.” Notably, Nationwide Series driver Eric McClure “missed six weeks this season with lingering effects of a concussion suffered at Talladega” (AP, 10/11). ESPN's Ricky Craven said depending on Earnhardt's symptoms, "I’m not sure two weeks is enough." Craven: "If you think about risk versus reward, it makes more sense to just shut it down at this point and extend the off-season” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/11).
NOT INFLUENCED BY NFL: Earnhardt said news about concussions in the NFL and other sports “didn’t play into it a whole lot.” Earnhardt: "I want to live a healthy life so I’m making sure I’m doing the right thing and that’s all I felt like I was doing here." ESPN’s Marty Smith said it was a "doctor’s decision” for Earnhardt not to race the next two weeks. Smith said, “This is huge for a driver to get out of the seat. We see all the time how difficult it is for athletes to make these types of decisions. It’s a landmark decision for Dale to do this. I am always taken aback when I speak with race car drivers on a personal level how scared they are that someone is going to take their job” ("SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/11).
SHOULD GRIFFIN PLAY? Redskins QB Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion in last week’s game against the Falcons, and questions persist over whether he should play in Sunday’s game against the Vikings if he is cleared by doctors. ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Given what the NFL’s No. 1 issue is these days -- player safety, player health -- I just think, you know what, you don’t have to put him back out there” (“PTI,” ESPN, 10/10). Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said as long as Griffin “doesn’t say anything about any symptoms that may be lingering, the doctors won’t know that there are any lingering symptoms.” Florio: “So the question becomes if he does feel any symptoms, will he say anything about it?” (“Pro Football Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 10/10). ESPN’s Michael Smith: “We know that the teams and their employed doctors are not going to put the interests of the players ahead of that of the team. The only way this culture is going to change is if players have the courage to (hold themselves out of games).” ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was held out of a game by doctors because of a concussion and “was then criticized by his teammates after the game for not playing. So that’s the culture we’re still dealing with in the NFL” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 10/10). ESPN’s Hugh Douglas said Griffin “should say something, but he can’t say something because he’s not in that position.” Douglas: “The guy who should keep him out of the game is his coach.” Douglas said the NFL “is really being a hypocrite when they talk about head injuries” because Griffin should not play this week but “there’s so much pressure to play in the NFL” (“Numbers Never Lie,” ESPN2, 10/10).
The NFL today announced that the 49ers will be the Jaguars' opponent in the '13 regular-season game at Wembley Stadium. The game, scheduled for Oct. 27, will mark the 49ers' second appearance in the NFL International Series. The team in '10 won a 24-16 game against the Broncos before a Wembley crowd of 83,941 (NFL). Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan said, “This is a unique and important opportunity for the Jaguars franchise, as well as for our fans and community. To share this stage in our first year at Wembley with a rising power like the 49ers will bring additional attention and respect to what we're trying to achieve as a franchise. We can't wait to see our global vision for the Jaguars become reality next season” (London DAILY MAIL, 10/11). The NFL said that “other teams could take games to continental Europe or Latin America if the Jaguars made a success of their foray across the Atlantic.” NFL CMO Mark Waller said, "We want to prove that fans here can become fans of a specific team.” Waller, a U.K. native, added, "If we can make this work here, there are many other markets.” REUTERS’ Keith Weir notes European soccer clubs have “made themselves more attractive to sponsors by building a global fanbase who follow their matches on television and online.” Khan: "The Premier League has led the way in terms of globalization. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from them about how to spread the love for the NFL” (REUTERS, 10/11).
Tennis player Andy Murray yesterday said that the "general view" among players was that Tennis Australia by increasing the purse for the Australian Open "responded well to complaints that the competitors' share of the revenues generated by all four of the Grand Slam tournaments was too small," according to Paul Newman of the London INDEPENDENT. Murray said, "From our side, it's definitely going in the right direction. All the conversations we've had with (the Australian Open) have been fairly positive. They've really been the first ones to step up." Newman writes, "Where Australia leads, the other Grand Slam tournaments are likely to follow." The "threat of a strike by players at next year's Australian Open appears to have been averted by the tournament's decision to increase next year's prize-money by 15 per cent." Murray: "I never viewed striking at the Australian Open as a real option. From all the players I've spoken to so far, everyone's been very happy with the increases in the prize-money and their plan over the next few years as well." Murray "thinks that tournaments on the main Association of Tennis Professionals tour also need to increase their prize-money" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/11).
UNITED THEY STAND: In Melbourne, Linda Pearce notes Australian Open prize money is expected to increase to AU$40M by '16 as the "stakes continue to rise in the remuneration battle between the grand slams and the men hungry for a larger slice of the expanding financial pie." Tournament Dir Craig Tiley "would not confirm" the AU$40M figure, but "reiterated the tournament's commitment to adequately compensate all players, but particularly those ranked 50 and below who often struggle financially once travelling and coaching expenses are factored in." Tennis Australia officials met with the ATP Player Council -- including president Roger Federer -- and a board of management in Shanghai over recent days "for what Tiley described as 'very positive' talks with a group that he believes is 'the most united that I've seen it in 20 years'" (Melbourne AGE, 10/9).
SPORTING NEWS' Brian Straus noted MLS "hopes to identify an owner for a New York City expansion team next year, with an eye on the club taking the field at a new stadium in Queens in 2016." MLS President Mark Abbott earlier this week said, "This is our priority in terms of our next expansion, which will be our 20th team. We haven’t made a determination about the timeline for expansion beyond that." Regarding construction of a league-funded 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Abbott said, “I don’t see any particular hurdles" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/10).
RISING IN THE EAST: GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell wrote of the LPGA, "While Asians have made their mark in the women’s game for more than a decade now, they’ve never dominated the tour the way they are this year." For the first time in league history, Asians "swept all four major championships." Asian players also "won eight straight LPGA events this summer, the most consecutive wins the Far East has ever claimed on the American-based tour." Additionally, 10 of the top 12 players in the Rolex world rankings are "from the Far East." Players from the Far East have "claimed 14 of the 21 LPGA events played so far this year" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/9).
WICKET KEEPERS: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Tariq Panja reported actors Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman "are among the celebrities targeted by organizers of a new U.S.-based Twenty20 cricket competition to help sell six $40 million franchises." Cricket Holdings America, "backed by the New Zealand and U.S. cricket bodies and Indian investors, is copying the approach of the celebrity-endorsed Indian Premier League as it builds toward the June 2013 start of the UST20 League." Cricket Holdings America CEO Neil Maxwell said, “We want to combine Hollywood and Bollywood and integrate celebrities into this entertainment product that we’re building" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/10).