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Hopes for even a shortened NHL season "seem to be dwindling" as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr "spoke briefly" Friday but no new negotiations are planned, according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. Daly "hinted there might be some" talks this week after the NHL considers where things stand. Fehr said that a new offer "will not be coming from the players, who believe the two sides are $182 million apart over five years with some contract restraint issues outstanding." Fehr said, "We moved a couple of miles, they moved a couple of inches." A union source said that moderate players "have moved to the hawk side, venting their anger" after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rejected the NHLPA’s latest offer last week. The source said, "Players are in the room and then they’re talking. ... The venom about what Bettman is like in these meetings isn’t doing the NHL any good" (TORONTO STAR, 11/23). NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr on Saturday met with about 25 players "to fill them in on what's happening, which isn't much." Fehr said, "There are no further (negotiation) meetings scheduled." He added, "Everybody understands that negotiation is a process. So far, we seem to be doing all the negotiating" (USATODAY.com, 11/25). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle noted on the "heels of players making an offer on Wednesday," Steve Fehr indicated it was "unlikely they would have another one any time soon." Fehr said, "They've given the owners concessions that really are fairly valued at $1-billion or more. But they're not prepared to go any further right now." Mirtle noted the cancellation of "yet another full season isn't expected until at least mid-January" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/24).
SCHEDULE CONFLICTS: In N.Y., Pat Leonard wrote by cancelling the first two weeks of its December schedule and the Jan. 27 All-Star Game in Columbus, the lockout "now has cost the league 422 regular season games." If the owners and players can't agree on a new CBA, "a maximum of two cancellations remain: the second [half] of December and then -- gulp -- the full season." December’s first round of cancellations "meant players will miss their third and fourth round of paychecks" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/23). The CBC's Tony Care noted the "best-case scenario for the NHL is a shortened schedule of approximately 60 games per team." A source said that all of those games "would be played within a team's own conference" (CBC.ca, 11/23).
ALL-STAR GAME LATEST LOSS: In Columbus, Aaron Portzline in a front-page piece wrote the cancellation of the All-Star Game on Friday "was a setback for the Blue Jackets, who are trying to rejuvenate a moribund franchise, and a financial hit for the city, which will lose $12 million in revenue and as much as $50 million in media exposure that the weeklong All-Star festivities were projected to create." The earliest the Blue Jackets "would be able to play host to the game would appear to be 2015." The '14 Sochi Games "would preclude an All-Star Game in the 2013-14 season." Greater Columbus Sports Commission Exec Dir Linda Logan said, “We want to have it in 2015. We’ll have the dates necessary." The Blue Jackets said that fans who have "already paid for All-Star Game tickets would be reimbursed by the outlet at which they purchased them" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/24). Also in Columbus, Michael Arace wrote the NHL lockout "has been an economic detriment to our area and it has hurt some people who can least afford it." However, the "idle time is to the Jackets' benefit." Arace: "Who wants to be the host in the middle of a shortened season, coming off a labor dispute? Also, do the Blue Jackets even have an All-Star?" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/24).
OUTLINING THE CONCESSIONS: The cancellations came after the league Wednesday rejected the NHLPA's latest proposal "despite significant concessions from the union 67 days into the lockout." Jets D Ron Hainsey, who has been present at nearly every negotiation session, said, "I would not say it was a blanket no. They responded to our proposal, but there was no meaningful move in our direction in anything that we would consider a major issue" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/22). In Buffalo, John Vogl noted the players' proposal "was dismissed almost in full once again by the league." The "make whole" provision and "player contracting rights continue to be prime obstacles to a deal." The league "reportedly agreed with the union’s desire to keep entry-level contracts at three years rather than the NHL-recommended two," but the league "refused to budge" on other player contracting issues. Meanwhile, the NHLPA "agreed to help eliminate front-loaded contracts but rejected the league’s plan to impose term limits and push back free agency." Bettman, in addition to "saying the players are losing up to" $10M per day, said the league is losing between $18-20M "every 24 hours." That number "could rise as backlash increases among sponsors and fans" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/22). ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang noted the union "offered to link the players' share to revenue in the league's preferred percentage-based system -- a substantial concession considering the guaranteed player amount featured in player proposals -- although there remain some serious concerns among owners about the offer" (ESPNNY.com, 11/23).
KEYS TO A DEAL: The GLOBE & MAIL's Mirtle noted the six-page proposal prepared by Donald Fehr "outlines seven key areas that could form the foundation for a new collective bargaining agreement: revenue sharing, pension plan, discipline, player contracting and system issues, players’ share, term of CBA and transition rules." It is "by far the NHLPA's most detailed offer yet" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/21). The CP's Chris Johnston noted the offer from the union "built off a framework previously put forward by the league and proposed a 50-50 split of revenues" along with $393M "in deferred payments to help ease the transition to a lower share for players." The NHL's last offer "was for a 50-50 split and $211 million" (CP, 11/23). Bettman, in reference to the league's proposal earlier this month, said Wednesday, “We made what was our best offer in order to save an 82-game season. That offer was summarily rejected. But to expect our best economic proposal as damage continues to increase isn’t particularly realistic." He added, “We’ve given what we have to give. It was our best offer" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/22).
COUNTER-ATTACK: YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote the perception within the league is that Donald Fehr "was pushed by the players to make this proposal." Bettman said that some owners "want him to take their current offer off the table, presumably so they can offer something worse and squeeze the players even more." It seems there are "varying opinions within both camps, some feeling Bettman and Fehr have gone too far, others feeling they haven't gone far enough to get this done" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/21). SI.com's Stu Hackel noted there were "reports that moderate voices in the NHLPA helped shape this proposal in an effort to get the two sides negotiating." Now that the proposal "to which they contributed has been shot down, you have to wonder how moderate they will be going forward" (SI.com, 11/21). In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher wrote every time the players "allow the softer, more submissive nature to take over within their association, it turns into an unmitigated disaster." They find "they've been negotiating against themselves" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/22).
AT A STAND STILL: Predators D Shea Weber said, "They just continue to say that they're not moving off their stance, and they haven't from the beginning" (TENNESSEAN.com, 11/23). Rangers D Marc Staal said, "You don't know what their mind-set is because they don't say anything" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/26). Senators RW Daniel Alfredsson said, "Last time around we knew what the league wanted -- they had to get a cap. This time around I have a hard time seeing what their game plan is" (NYTIMES.com, 11/25). Red Wings RW Danny Cleary said, "It seems like a lot of give from players, and all the taking is on their side" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/22). Stars LW Ray Whitney, a veteran of four NHL work stoppages, said, "They're not really hockey people, they didn't grow up loving the game of hockey." He added, "They're like schoolyard bullies right now; they want everything. That's not negotiating. With us coming down to 50-50 (split of revenues), I don't see the need for this to go as long as this has. ... Over my three lockouts, this is by far the most informed we've been as players and a union" (ESPN.com, 11/23).
PLAYERS BASH BETTMAN: Blackhawks C Dave Bolland "expressed regret for retweeting a post that called for" Bettman's death, "saying it was a mistake." Bolland on Friday reposted a Twitter entry that read, "can I get a RT for wanting Bettman dead?" The retweet "later was deleted." Bolland said, "It was a mistake, I never meant to retweet that out. I like to retweet for a lot of my fans, and I just retweeted the wrong thing. I feel bad about it" (ESPN.com, 11/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Harrison Mooney noted former NHLer Jeff O'Neill "kicked the Bettman-bashing up a notch." O'Neill on Wednesday tweeted, "And Bettman stop talking to the media. I wanna 'make whole' in your fkn head." A couple hours later O'Neill tweeted, "My last tweet was inappropriate. Someone hacked my acct." (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/21).
FANS GET INVOLVED: During Wednesday's press conference, Bettman "was interrupted by a heckling fan, who was later revealed to be Jaymes Hall from Lancaster, Pa." After he "finished speaking with reporters, Bettman had a conversation with Hall and thanked him for being a fan" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/21). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Leonard has a transcript of Bettman's talk with Hall (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 11/21).
For all the "rhetoric and posturing" from the NHL and NHLPA on Wednesday and the "anger belted out on Twitter by players, the reality is that both sides are closer to a deal now thanks to the NHLPA’s newest proposal," according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. LeBrun: "A lot closer? No. But closer nonetheless." The NHLPA's "willingness for the first time to base a framework on the percentage of hockey-related revenue and not a guaranteed dollar amount was a monumental shift." If this deal "doesn’t get done, it’s because the politics will have gotten in the way of measured thinking." And it is "possible that could happen" (ESPN.com, 11/22).
THE FINER DETAILS: In N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote NHL Commissioner Bettman "and the owners seem intent on continuing" the lockout, "even though the two sides are close enough for a quick resolution." Union officials "have wondered whether Bettman and the owners have a date in mind at which they will rake in the concessions they have won, compromise on unresolved issues and move to a quick settlement." If there "is such a date, it could be Dec. 5," when the NHL BOG holds its annual meeting. If the governors "inform Bettman then that they want to settle, the season could start within a couple of weeks" (NYTIMES.com, 11/25). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote why the players took 36 days to made "a valid offer ... is anyone’s guess, but overall I think it took that long for the harsh reality to sink in among the rank-and-file: the owners are going to get what they want, and it’s getting time for everyone to bend a little and get back to stoking the furnace of a $3 billion-plus business." Dupont: "Truth is (at least my truth), the players’ shift to 50/50 was the time for the owners silently to claim victory and get the deal done." The owners "know they’ve won now, and their reluctance to stay at the table and cut a deal last week tells us that they want more than victory." They "want a humbling, a pummeling." The "longer this grind continues, the more fans begin to believe it’s just business, nothing more, and the more sponsors/advertisers stop believing in the NHL as a viable, honest business partner" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/25).
STAYING POSITIVE: Canadiens President & CEO Geoff Molson is one of the rare owners to talk to the media, saying, "I'm not in the room negotiating and I won’t comment on that anyway. But I believe that we’ll get back to playing and I’m looking forward to that day. ... More than half the people who work at the Bell Centre are on a four-day week and to some people, every day matters. This impacts everyone." Molson: "I respect all of our players greatly and I can't wait to see them get back on the ice together. But out of respect for them, and I think they have the same respect for me, we just keep our distance for now." Molson added, "I am there behind the scenes and I’m very well informed and very much in touch with people at the NHL as well as the people on the committee. And I feel comfortable with the involvement. ... Gary's in charge of our league, he's doing a good job" (Montreal GAZETTE, 11/22). In Montreal, Pat Hickey wrote, "If I was looking at tens of millions in lost revenue because the NHL has cancelled games through the middle of December, I would want to be part of a solution. But Molson isn't alone." Hickey: "So who is negotiating? A collection of losers who need a new deal because, during a period of unprecedented growth in the NHL, they can’t figure out a way to run a business" (Montreal GAZETTE, 11/23). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote the NHL needs a "hero or two (or four or five) to emerge from the ranks of the Board of Governors in order to put a stop to the madness." It is "hard to believe the owners of the Maple Leafs ... will stand by silently as the league seeks nothing less than unconditional surrender from the players." It is "impossible to believe the owners ... will continue to cede authority" (N.Y. POST, 11/25).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE LEADERS? The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek wrote if Bettman and Donald Fehr "are ultimately unable to come to terms on a new CBA in time to save the 2012-13 season, then both should immediately resign from their respective positions when the cancellation becomes official." And "more importantly, they should pledge their willingness to do so, publicly, now" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/24). In Montreal, Jack Todd wrote Bettman "has become hockey's worst enemy." If Bettman "cared, we would not be enduring this completely unnecessary lockout." The lockout is "dragging on and on because you have a commissioner and a small clique of owners acting contrary to the interests of millions" (Montreal GAZETTE, 11/25). In Vancouver, Iain MacIntyre wrote decertification, "however remote, gives Fehr and the NHLPA an exit strategy." But what is Bettman's "exit strategy?" MacIntyre: "Please tell me owners have a grand plan beyond merely waiting for players to fully capitulate. ... Because at the moment, Bettman's game plan looks a little thin." MacIntyre: "This is what we signed up for? In a sense, the dispute is far worse now than when Bettman triggered it in September" (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/24). In DC, Thomas Boswell profiled Fehr and wrote the most "troubling development to me is that hockey's leaders now sound like MLB owners a generation ago." NHL leaders "need to realize, in a fraction [of] the time it took baseball, that if you go to the mat with a Fehr union, everybody suffers, but you might get it worse." If "you work with them, then one day you wake up and Albert Pujols has a $275 million contract and the Dodgers sell for $2 billion" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22).
THE SPIN: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside noted the owners and Bettman "have, for the most part, taken a beating via Facebook and Twitter from players, agents and fans." What will "be interesting is how sponsors respond to that." Burnside: "Do they shy away from returning or extending existing contracts based on the anger and resentment that seems to be much more prevalent this time? Why wouldn't they?" (ESPN.com, 11/21). In L.A., Helene Elliot wrote if there is not "any reason to believe pucks will drop ... when Christmas rolls around, the NHL can say goodbye to a meaningful season and the dwindling number of fans and advertisers who care about its future" (L.A. TIMES, 11/23). Ducks D Francois Beauchemin said, "The league has done a lot of damage right now. We just keep doing it every day that we're not playing. We're losing fans" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/24).
AT THE TEAM LEVEL: In Vancouver, Brad Ziemer noted Canucks fans Meredith and Dean Stevenson "cancelled their pair" of Canucks season tickets "they had held for 14 years." Meredith Stevenson said, "The last lockout (in 2004-05) didn't seem to bother me as much. Now that this is kind of the second time around and we are faced with the same old argument, I just found myself feeling increasingly frustrated." Stevenson last week "called her account representative with the Canucks" to cancel their tickets. Stevenson was the "first and only female producer at EA Sports on its NHL team." She said, "I am too angry to sympathize with either side right now" (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/24). Also in Vancouver, Tony Gallagher wrote there are many Canucks fans "wondering when this lockout will end" and there are "many who recognize that, while they would like so much to do the opposite, they will return to paying the freight like the whipped dogs they are" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/25). Meanwhile, in Nashville, Josh Cooper notes the Predators "have needed to get creative to publicize their business supporters." Every Friday, "for instance, the team holds a social-media-driven 'pride day' to push Predators fans to sponsor venues." Predators CEO Jeff Cogen said, "There are different initiatives for different partners, but they’re not isolated to the partner." Team salespeople "have also called and visited each sponsor." Nissan Product Communications Manager Josh Clifton said, "They have done a good job of keeping us updated" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 11/26).
Sabres G Ryan Miller has taken a stand on the "controversial subject of decertifying the National Hockey League Players’ Association as the next step in the lockout," according to James Mirtle of the GLOBE & MAIL. Miller in an e-mail wrote, “After watching the other sport leagues go through labour disputes last year, it is apparent that until decertification is filed, there will not be any real movement or negotiation. Many things in our negotiation are very consistent with the NFL and NBA negotiations, and both of those leagues filed papers necessary to decertify." He added, "It seems like the players in any league are going to be subjected to the same scripted labour dispute developed by (NHL and NBA law firm) Proskauer Rose in all collective bargaining discussions now and in the future. Decertification becomes part of the script because [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman and the owners are trying to get a sense of how far they can push us and at some point we have to say ‘enough'" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). In N.Y., Jeff Klein noted there was "public discussion about the possibility of decertifying the union." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly called decertification “a time-consuming process that would likely lead to the end of the season.” But NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr said of the possibility, “All things are under consideration” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/24). NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, when asked if it was too soon to be talking about decertification, said, "You can look at what's happened in the other sports and make your own judgment about that." He added, "I'm not going to discuss whether we've had any such discussion or if so what they are. I never discuss internal communications" (PHILLY.com, 11/24).
SUPPORT BUILDING AMONG PLAYERS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Mirtle wrote it is "not certain the NHLPA will choose decertification, but support is building among players after their latest offer was rejected so swiftly" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). Capitals D Karl Alzner said, "Before anything like that happens, we have to be well aware of what it means for us and for the union" (CALGARY HERALD, 11/22). Predators D Shea Weber said, "You hear about it in the media, but I think that we need to make sure we know what it involves, and what we might need to do or what might happen as a cause of it" (TENNESSEAN.com, 11/23). Univ. of Georgia Sports Law Professor Nathaniel Grow said, "I’m still a little surprised the players haven’t decertified yet. They already lost that season, and I always wondered why they didn’t pursue it in 2005. Part of the issue with decertification is if you wait too long, it just takes time for this to play out. ... If you wait until mid-January and then decide to decertify, the season is pretty much going to be gone before the court even has a chance to address the legality of the lockout" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). Daly said, "I wouldn't view an antitrust lawsuit in this case to be anything other than [an] unfortunate development because I think it's a time consuming process and would likely lead to the end of the season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). CSNPHILLY.com's Tim Panaccio wrote decertification is "absurd. It's unrealistic. And it would be wasting valuable time heading on a detour in the talks rather than sticking with the process and getting a deal done" (CSNPHILLY.com, 11/25).
DISSENT IN THE RANKS? There was speculation of player unrest after Capitals D Roman Hamrlik criticized the union's strategy and saying he was “disgusted.” Hamrlik: “If half of players say let’s play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season [Fehr] should leave and we will find someone new.” The GLOBE & MAIL’s Mirtle noted the comments “sparked widespread outrage from his fellow NHLPA members.” But Hamrlik on Thursday said that he “wasn’t taking back his comments.” Hamrlik: “We are all together in this. … I’ve been in the league for 20 years and faced three lockouts and there’s only 14 other guys that have done that. I believe I’ve earned the right to say what I think.” He added, “About Fehr, I just think time is against us. We need the solution. I think this is a fight between two groups that have too much pride. I still support Fehr, but we the players we need to push him more to get the best deal possible, as soon as possible. That’s what I think. ... How many more weeks, how many more months can we wait?” (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). Jets LW Andrew Ladd on Friday said, “(Hamrlik) said the deal (in 2005) didn’t get better after that (lockout ended) and it did. It was a hard cap when they cancelled the year and it ended up being tied to revenue, which bumped it up to where it is right now. It’s inaccurate in that sense.” Capitals G Michal Neuvirth “threw his support behind Hamrlik and said the lockout was only about the superstars, not about what was best for all members of the NHLPA.” But Ladd said, “That’s completely false. Your superstars are always going to make their money, regardless. There’s so much more into it, (the NHL) wants to add another year before guys get salary arbitration and a lot of (contract rights) and stuff like that, it affects everybody. I would encourage them to check into it a little more, be on some calls and get a little more information.” Still, in Winnipeg, Ken Wiebe wrote it would be “ridiculous to suggest the NHLPA is beginning to fracture,” as that is “simply not the case” (WINNIPEG SUN, 11/24). Capitals RW Troy Brouwer said of Hamrlik and Neuvirth, "Those are two guys that have never been on a conference call, never been to a meeting, never paid attention." He added, "Me being on their team, how am I going to trust them as a teammate from now on?” (FANNATION.com, 11/24).
MANY VOICES: YAHOO SPORTS’ Sean Leahy wrote the comments did not mean there was dissent among the union ranks. With a union “filled with 700-plus players, it's impossible for there to be 100 per cent pull in the same direction” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/23). Kings C Jarret Stoll in a text wrote the owners are “hoping the players cave, which isn't gonna happen.” Stoll: “This whole process has been one-sided from the start" (ESPN.com, 11/23). In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi noted “most players say no” when asked if there are cracks in the union’s support of Fehr. But it is “interesting that a couple players have gone public with complaint” (PHILLY.com, 11/23). Sharks LW Ryane Clowe said, “Sticking together, it’s very important. … I’d say 95 percent of the players are on the same page” (MERCURYNEWS.com, 11/25).
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon last Friday during his annual state-of-the-league address said that "six out of the league's eight teams break even or make money," and while he did not name the teams, it is the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats "that are struggling," according to David Ebner of the GLOBE & MAIL. Cohon said, "We know we have work here in southern Ontario." Cohon spoke "about a long-term goal to house the Argos in a more intimate venue than the cavernous Rogers Centre, pointing to Hamilton and Ottawa whose new stadiums are a good fit for the CFL with capacity of about 24,000." But the "idea is very much in the concept stage." The Argos have "felt a boost from the 100th Grey Cup as they have sold 'hundreds' of new season tickets in the past week, buoyed by the hype and excitement around the game" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/24). In Winnipeg, Kirk Penton wrote with the Argonauts and Tiger-Cats, there is "a plan in place to rebuild both fan bases, but it's going to take some time." Both franchises received C$500,000 "from their league brethren last year for marketing purposes, and more could be coming from the league’s coffers." The Argos are "targeting 'new Canadians' and younger fans." Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats "are trying to expand their fan base to more parts of the Hamilton region." Playing home games "in Guelph next season will aid in that quest as well" (WINNIPEG SUN, 11/24). In Canada, Steve Milton noted Cohon "conceded the CFL would help the Ticats with some of the costs involved in playing all of their games away from Hamilton with most, if not all, at Guelph." Cohon said that it "hadn't been decided whether that financial help would come from the southern Ontario initiative extension or a stand-alone fund" (Hamilton SPECTATOR, 11/25).
OTHER LEAGUE ISSUES: Cohon said that while "expansion to Moncton, Halifax or Quebec City isn’t something that will happen until a stadium is plausible for those cities, the league hasn’t ruled out a 10th team in one of these locations following Ottawa’s return" in '14. But if "expansion did occur, he thought only one of those cities would enter the CFL." Cohon said that an average "of 28,000 people attended games across the league, a slight increase from 2011 but television ratings were up substantially." He also added that "no changes are planned to requiring teams to have a designated Canadian quarterback but roster spots at training camp will again be open for them to intern with existing passers" (TORONTO STAR, 11/24). The NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur wrote Cohon's "list of accomplishments is starting to pile up." The "revenue tide keeps rising." Cohon "introduced drug testing, held payroll excesses in check ... and patched over the ownership holes with the help" of B.C. Lions and Argonauts Owner David Braley. Cohon said of his future, "I’m happy where I am, I’m challenged, and I hope to [be] around for a while, while I’m still challenged." Arthur noted the challenges "include the TV contract, expansion, Toronto, all that" (NATIONAL POST, 11/24).
DOUBLE DIPPING: In Vancouver, Ed Willes wrote a "number of people perceive a big problem" with Braley owning both the Argos and the B.C. Lions. However, since Braley "took over the Argos, a franchise he was helping prop up anyway, there hasn't been a peep about bankruptcies or missed payrolls or salary cuts or any of the other divertissements that long consumed the CFL's credibility." Over the "past couple of years, in fact, the league has enjoyed a period of growth and stability that is virtually unprecedented in its history, and Braley's ownership of the Argos has been instrumental in that success." Willes: "Yes, it would be better if someone in the Big Smoke would buy the Argos or if the Lions were sold to local owners." But "until that person arrives, the CFL will have to endure the tuttutting over the Argos and Lions" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/23). In Montreal, Stu Cowan wrote the CFL "definitely has its flaws" as Braley "owns two teams." But the CFL "is our game and we should be proud of it and the fact the Grey Cup remains our national party." The game provides "a breath of fresh air for frustrated Canadian sports fans" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 11/24).
A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER: The GLOBE & MAIL's Vidya Kauri reports in an "attempt to create a new tradition," the CFL yesterday invited fans to "join a parade and take turns carrying" the Grey Cup from the Univ. of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium to Rogers Centre, the site of last night's Grey Cup game. The parade "wound through downtown, picking up hundreds more to arrive near the stadium in a crowd estimated at 3,000" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/26). Cohon "told hundreds of fans at Varsity Stadium he was hoping to make this inaugural parade of the trophy to the stadium on game day a regular event." Cohon told the crowd, "It will only become a new tradition if you guys don’t drop it. Treat it with the respect it deserves" (TORONTO STAR, 11/26). Also in Toronto, Maryam Shah notes with the 100th Grey Cup Festival "teaming up with Cavalcade of Lights and the Santa parade, the football event -- combined with the lack of on-ice action -- transformed into a citywide celebration, with supporters flying in from all over Canada" (TORONTO SUN, 11/26).
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati on Wednesday “announced the formation of an eight-team women's professional league that will begin play in the spring,” according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. The move marks “the third time a women's soccer league has been launched in the U.S. in the last 12 years -- and the first two lasted just three seasons before folding, with economic issues fueling both collapses.” Gulati “promises that won't happen this time.” He said, "The model is quite different both in terms of the sort of players that you might go out and get internationally, in terms of the marketing and promotional efforts and maybe in terms of some of the stadiums." Baxter reported Gulati is “gambling U.S. Soccer's reputation and riches on the idea.” USSF will “not only fund the league office," but also will "pay the salaries of up to 24 national team players who will participate in the league.” The Canadian Soccer Association also will "sponsor 16 players and the Mexican federation will pay for eight." While "Gulati the soccer expert saw the league as a no-brainer, Gulati the economist concluded the private sector wouldn't be able to make it work without a giant public stimulus package.” The as-yet-unnamed league will “play a 22-game schedule running from March/April through early fall." Teams will be located in Boston, Chicago, DC, K.C., New Jersey, western New York, Portland and Seattle. While six teams "are located in cities that also have MLS teams," only the Portland club "will have official ties to the men's team" (L.A. TIMES, 11/25). Officials said that the new league “will try to avoid expensive venues.” In N.Y., Jack Bell noted discussions are “underway with several potential national sponsors and a television partner” (NYTIMES.com, 11/21).
MLB distributed $65.36M in postseason player compensation for '12, up 14% from last year and a new league record. The money, generated from 60% of the gate receipts of the first three games of each Division Series and first four games of each LCS and the World Series, is largely a function of the ballpark capacities of the participating teams and ticket prices. Under the new format, 50% of the Wild Card games also goes into this, as well as the 60% of the initial games in the subsequent rounds. The presence of the Yankees, Giants, Cardinals and Tigers, among others, helped boost the compensation pool to its new height. The world champion Giants divided their $23.53M portion of the pool into 50 full shares of $377,002.64 each, another new league record, and 11.1 partial shares and 12 cash awards. This year's total is more than twice the size of the compensation pool from '01. With the expanded MLB postseason going into effect this year, payouts were given to just the 10 playoff teams. In years past with the eight-team postseason format, the four regular-season clubs that finished second in their divisions but did not make the playoffs also received funds.
TOTALYEAR TOTAL'12 $65.36M'05 $40.79M'11 $57.3M'04 $42.19M'10 $54.9M'03 $41.36M'09 $59.0M'02 $35.36M'08 $51.16M'01 $31.96M'07 $52.46M'00 $43.01M'06 $55.6M