SBD/October 26, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Lockout, Day 41: NHL Cancels All Regular-Season Games Through November

The NHL Friday afternoon cancelled all regular-season games through the end of November. For teams, that means one-quarter of their 82-game schedules have been cancelled so far. The Winter Classic was not cancelled Friday, but if talks between the league and NHLPA do not bear fruit soon, the event -- scheduled for Michigan Stadium -- will likely be scrapped in the next two weeks (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). In Detroit, Ted Kulfan notes if there is no Winter Classic there will "be no Hockeytown Winter Festival." The Red Wings on Thursday said that the "events planned for Comerica Park will be canceled if the Winter Classic ... is canceled." The Hockeytown Festival would include "hockey games played on a rink constructed between the infield and outfield at Comerica Park" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/26). Meanwhile, the league "has confirmed that the 2013 NHL All-Star Game is safe -- for now." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail said the cancellation of the Jan. 27 game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus is "not imminent" (DISPATCH.com, 10/25).

LEAGUE TO WITHDRAW LATEST PROPOSAL: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported after Thursday's deadline passed without a new deal in place, the NHL planned to "withdraw its latest proposal" to the NHLPA. Daly on Thursday said, "Having not reached agreement through today, I expect that we'll formally notify the union Friday that the proposal is no longer on the table. We're going to take it back internally and figure out where we go from here." The league will "officially notify the union it's withdrawing its offer sometime Friday morning." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "This is a standard approach. I think it was done in the NBA in the same way." He added, "They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts. It seems to be something they're well-practiced at" (ESPN.com, 10/25). In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes the league withdrawing its offer is a "matter of raising the stakes in what has become a game of chicken with NHL players." Flames C Mike Cammalleri said, "The lockout feels like a shakedown. That’s kind of the feeling across the board.” Daly said, “We are in a different place once it is clear that we can no longer save an 82-game season. We will have to regroup and rethink and try to come up with something that will work for the new reality we find ourselves in.” Octagon Hockey Dir Allan Walsh "dismissed the move on his Twitter feed." Walsh wrote, "owners’ playbook: Deadline passes, take offer off table, give players reduced offer, tell players it’s only going to get worse" (TORONTO STAR, 10/26).

GOING NOWHERE: CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote the "unfortunate reality here is that it feels like we're close to being back to square one" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/25). In Toronto, Lance Hornby writes if the NHL cancels most or all November games, that "sober news and the loss of a second player paycheque a few days later might test the union's resolve a bit more" (TORONTO SUN, 10/26). In Ottawa, Don Brennan writes, "I saw this coming the day the NHLPA brought in Don Fehr as its executive director." But Senators RW Chris Neil said, "We've got the right guy at the helm, and that's what it's about, having the right leadership" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/26). In Vancouver, Iain MacIntyre writes, "You wonder on days like Thursday if anyone in charge has any reverence or respect for the game beyond its ability as a business to make both sides, including their leaders, fabulously rich" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/26). Sabres G Ryan Miller in an e-mail wrote, "The two sides are close enough to a deal that missing the bulk of a season is wrong and missing an entire season is not only insane, it is a blatant disregard for the sport, the fans and the culture we have grown over decades -- just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side." Miller added, "Consider that Canadian broadcasting rights are up for negotiations by 2014 and the Islanders will be in a new facility by 2015. Those are just two examples of things that are certain to put a lot more money into the league" (TSN.ca, 10/25).

WHO HAS THE MOST TO LOSE? In DC, John Feinstein writes the loss of another season would, "at this point, cost owners a lot more money than eight years ago because a lot more of them are making money under the salary cap system." Feinstein: "So, who blinks first?" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26). In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes it is "well past time for the Penguins' ownership to take an active role in this ridiculous NHL lockout." Not just co-Owner & Chair Mario Lemieux, but also co-Owner Ron Burkle. Kovacevic: "No two individuals are more qualified to make an impact. ... No one in hockey -- not even Wayne Gretzky -- could command greater respect in this specific setting than what Lemieux could deliver by walking into one of those meetings" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/26). Former Sabres Managing Partner & Minority Owner Larry Quinn said, "The person that gets hurt the most in this is the player. ... The fact that their limited livelihood would be jeopardized once again, something is just wrong. It makes you wonder what interests are being represented and why" (ESPN.com, 10/25). Sharks D Dan Boyle has been "one of the more vocal and outspoken NHL players when it comes to the current labor battle." He said, "It’s just more frustrating to lose possibly a second year of my career. Careers are so short to begin with, to just have that taken away is pretty frustrating.” But Boyle "didn’t admonish his own side from helping to contribute to the stalemate." He said, "Right now both sides feel like it’s their way or the highway. I think you’ve got to give to get, and I don’t know that we’re at that point yet" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 10/25).

MAKING DOLLARS AND SENSE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes the "insistence that all players must have their contracts honoured in full ... is a foolhardy and costly stance that is not supported by historical evidence." It "raises the question: What exactly are the players fighting for?" Simmons: "Why the reluctance to give back when the proof is you won't be hurt long-term for doing so?" When there is "enough money for everyone, what are the players fighting for?" (TORONTO SUN, 10/26). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes, "Here we have two parties that made a combined four proposals last week and moved some $600-million or so closer together over the next five or six years." And yet "still we're told there's been no progress, no upcoming talks scheduled and, essentially, nothing to talk about." Mirtle: "Which is baloney." Hockey blogger and statistician Tyler Dellow "spun some numbers" on the proposals and "ultimately determined that 'we're talking about an awfully small difference on the team level' that amounts to as little as $2.7-million a season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/26).

MAKING THE COMPARISON: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli writes under the header, "A Tale Of Two Commissioners." Watching NBA Commissioner David Stern "take a seat on Thursday makes you wonder how long his protege, [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman, is for the job." Even with "fan grumbling for his head growing louder and louder every day, my gut says Bettman has made these billionaire owners enough money to call his own shot -- whether that is next year or ten years from now" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/26).
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