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SBD/December 27, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail Monday said that there have been "no discussions" between the NHL and NHLPA since Saturday and he does not have "any expectations (for a meeting) at this point," according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA SUN. Both sides are "entrenched in their positions and the only hope there’s going to be a season is if they decide to act for the good of the game to get a collective bargaining agreement." Daly and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, along with NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, "know they’re putting the future of the league at risk if they don’t get an agreement." With Christmas having now passed, both sides have had "a chance to take a deep breath and decide if they’re indeed willing to take drastic measures to claim victory" (OTTAWASUN.com, 12/25).
PLAN OF ATTACK: In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe noted Penguins D Brooks Orpik "hopes the league has a plan to lure fans back into arenas." Orpik said, "Obviously you think about that kind of stuff. But the league, that‘s their side of things. They‘re the ones who need to worry about marketing. Our job is to play our best. We are the product. There is no league without us." He added, “I‘m interested to see if anyone‘s interested when (if) we come back in January. It has a whole different feel this time around." Orpik said that when and if the NHL returns, the league‘s PR staff "had better be working in overdrive." He said, “They‘re in charge of that stuff, to market the game. The only way we can sell the game as players is to play as well as possible and to be accessible with the fans and media. But the rest is the league‘s job" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/25). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun gave "10 recommendations for the NHL for when it ever opens shop again -- moves that I believe would help the league make itself more appealing to fans and regain some form of relevancy in the marketplace" (ESPN.com, 12/26).
KILLING TIME: The CP's Benjamin Shingler reported Canadians D Josh Gorges "looked to an unusual source to find his next hockey game: Twitter." Gorges extended an "open invitation to his followers on the social network site to join him at a rink Wednesday afternoon," and the fans "responded in droves." Gorges said, "I haven't played outdoors in a long time, but I figured we've got some time and I've got nothing else to do" (CP, 12/26).
OLYMPIC-SIZED DECISION: In Ottawa, Ian Mendes noted as CBA negotiations "drag on, a critical question has yet to be answered: Will the NHL continue to participate in the Olympic Games in the future?" It is "clear NHL players would like to keep playing for their countries on that stage." The NHL has "yet to commit to the Sochi Games, however, perhaps using the Olympics as a bargaining chip in its current negotiations with the union." The NHL is the "only major North American sports league that has to deal with" suspending its season so players can compete in the Olympics. Mendes noted it is "time for the NHL's Olympic experiment to come to an end." The results have been "mixed at best and there's no reason for them to continue shutting down their league every four years for such a risky endeavor" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/25).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's year "began with a rich contract extension in January," but in the 11 months since then, he has "been more lightning rod than object of praise," according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. Despite challenges this year, Goodell "retains the strong support of the league's owners." He said, "In the NFL there are always challenges. I think that's part of our success." Goodell said that he was "pleased with some steps that have been taken in regard to player safety." He "counted as a disappointment the failure to reach a final agreement with the players' union on human growth hormone testing." Another regret of his is that the referee lockout "could not end before replacement officials were needed for regular-season games, although he is happy that a long-term agreement was eventually reached." Goodell "framed the Saints' bounty case as a matter of player safety." He said, "What you're doing is you're enforcing the rules. ... We didn't look for this. But when it occurs, you've got to deal with it and make sure there is no misunderstanding that everybody is accountable." Regarding former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's decision to overturn the suspensions of the players involved in the bounty scandal, Goodell added, "All of us have a role to make sure the game is safer. I was disappointed he could find conduct detrimental and there is no discipline, that he could excuse that type of accountability as a coach's responsibility. I don't share that perspective. This isn't a new policy. The bounty rule has been in place for decades. It's a core part of our rules."
LOOKING AHEAD: Battista noted the league and the NFLPA "appear at odds on many policy initiatives." However, Goodell said the relationship between the NFL management and the union was "typical." HGH and the collusion case involving the Redskins and Cowboys "will almost certainly be big issues in 2013." Additionally, player safety "continues to be the overarching theme of his tenure." Giants President & CEO John Mara said that when Goodell talks to owners, he "repeatedly emphasizes preserving the integrity of the game and improving player safety." But Goodell also has "talked about the need to avoid complacency." Goodell said, "That is part of leadership. What you have to do is listen and make the right decisions. Long-term, that is what is going to make the NFL successful. If you want to be a cheerleader, go be a cheerleader. If you want to be a commissioner, then go make the decisions" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/23).
MAKING THINGS CLEAR: SI.com's Peter King wrote, "If you still think Tagliabue was somehow 'protecting' Goodell with his ruling, you wouldn't think that from talking to those close to Goodell -- or, now with Battista's story, by hearing from Goodell himself. It's clear the mentee, Goodell, is angry with the decision of his mentor, Tagliabue" (SI.com, 12/24).