With what "looks like a certain NHL lockout looming on Saturday," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli signed RW Tyler Seguin to a long-term deal, "his second young top six forward signed in two weeks," according to Steve Conroy of the BOSTON HERALD. After signing LW Brad Marchand to a four-year, $18M extension last week, Chiarelli and the Bruins "came to terms" with Seguin on a six-year extension that will pay "an annual average of" $5.75M. Chiarelli was asked "if he was concerned about the 'optics' of signing players to long-term extensions with a lockout on the horizon and presumably a new set of rules whenever a new CBA is hammered out." Chiarelli said, "I know we talk openly about the second contract problem and we’re trying to fix it. But I try to do my job, I try to move forward and these are core players that I try to lock up." He added, "I feel that there’ll be some flexibility enough if we have to make some changes in a new system and that’s how we’ve decided to go forward with it" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/12). Chiarelli said, "It may fly in the face of the labor situation at this time, but we feel very strongly in the core of our team" (AP, 9/11).
CURIOUS CONTRACTS:In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes Seguin "won't be paid so much for what he's done but for the promise he has shown." But Chiarelli is "firm in the belief that he is doing right by the franchise." Meanwhile, the NHL is "again saying times are tough, future business could be flat, and that it’s near-impossible for owners to make a buck when the stick carriers are shoveling money off sheets of ice as though they are 30 rigged craps tables" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/12). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes the Bruins were not the only NHL team "to lock up their promising kids in these past few frantic weeks before the CBA expires." The Oilers "did it previously with" LW Taylor Hall and RW Jordan Eberle, the Hurricanes with C Jeff Skinner, and the Senators "to a lesser degree" with Cs Kyle Turris and Zack Smith. Duhatschek: "How bad can the business of hockey be if teams are trying so hard to get their young players signed under the wire under terms of a contract they say no longer works for them?" Duhatschek asks, "Is it any more curious because the Bruins are owned by Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the NHL’s board of governors, and one of the key voices on the owners’ side?" It is "sure that whatever demands NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is making, Jacobs is fully on board, with the tactics used at the bargaining table and with the end game in mind" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/12).
If there was “ever any doubt fans can have an impact, it was answered Tuesday when Calgary Flames players bowed to public pressure and agreed to do the right thing” by participating in the team's charity golf tournament, according to Eric Francis of the CALGARY SUN. Spurred on by “front page coverage in the Sun revealing the Flames players had decided en masse" to skip the tomorrow's tournament so some could attend players’ meetings in N.Y., a "rather overwhelmed" team player rep C Matt Stajan announced "their change of heart one day later." A “furious backlash by frustrated fans had everything to do with the decision to cease the senseless blanket policy and allow at least a handful of players in town to play and help raise upwards of $300,000 for local charities.” Francis wrote, “Right or wrong, the optics suggested millionaire players were essentially turning their collective backs on children and families in need.” It was “clear by Stajan’s uncomfortable response to the firestorm Tuesday, the decision wasn’t well-thought through as he had no idea the public would respond with such passion.” But Stajan “could have used some better advice Tuesday when he suggested the whole thing was a ‘mix-up.’” To suggest there was a breakdown in communications is to "inadvertently throw the Flames’ public relations staff and the organization under the bus." Still, it is “hard to come down too hard on Stajan, as he and the players fixed the situation” (CALGARY SUN, 9/12). Stajan said, "We never had any intent ... of hurting a charity or not supporting a charity. We are 100 per cent behind the Flames Foundation and all the charities we work for, all the charities we work with." He added, We don't want to be locked out and have a bunch of other charity events cancelled ... or can't attend (them) because we're locked out" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/12).
NO RSVP'S YET:In Nashville, Josh Cooper notes Predators players in recent years “have donated their time in honor” of the team’s former associate coach Brent Peterson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in ’03. The team every year “hosts a dinner/silent auction and golf tournament” to benefit the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s. But with the Sept. 15 lockout deadline looming, the function, scheduled for Sept. 17-18, “may see some high-profile no-shows.” Following the lockout, it is “unclear what team-related functions they would be allowed to participate in.” Predators D Shea Weber said, “Guys here want to do anything to support Brent Peterson and the Parkinson’s foundation because he’s a great person, so we will do anything we can do to help him. But we’re not sure on what we’re supposed to do and not do” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/12).
Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan “has removed himself from the equation” and has "promised his front office staff that he'll let them do their jobs without his shadow looming over their war-room marker boards,” according to Ryan McGee of ESPN THE MAGAZINE. Jordan has “handed over the reins of the Bobcats to a next-generation GM [Rich Cho], armed with high-level metrics, to do for Charlotte what he helped do for Oklahoma City -- and in doing so, salvage Jordan's flagging basketball reputation.” When Cho was hired in June '11, former GM Rod Higgins was promoted to President of Basketball Operations, "Jordan's old position." Meanwhile, the team’s new coach is “roll-of-the-dice hire Mike Dunlap, a 55-year-old rookie.” An NBA GM said, "Every single one of those moves is evidence that Michael is serious about getting out of the way. They are now going to succeed or fail with Rich. And I can guarantee you that Michael has made sure that Rich knows that." Cho said that when left the Trail Blazers GM position to work for the Bobcats, his "marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific -- build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top.” McGee writes the “old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.” But as he "learned last year, even ‘MJ’ appearing on their caller IDs wasn't enough to offset the lure of LA.” Jordan "finally seems to have experienced the same epiphany that eventually came to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird -- that the same ‘I'll outwork you’ skills that shattered opponents on the hardwood don't have the same effect at a mahogany desk.” Bobcats front office execs said that Jordan “has been sticking to his new plan, stepping away from the draft board and into the boardroom” (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 9/17 issue).
The Indians have partnered with Minneapolis-based marketing firm E Group "to create a more fluid renewal benefits system that allows customers to choose what they want their benefits to be, rather than be shoehorned in to most teams' current one-size-fits-all benefits packages," according to Joel Hammond of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The team's new benefits system is "like a loyalty program: To start, the amount of points a season-ticket holder receives with a renewal depends on how long they've been a customer." Customers log on to a website "that shows them how many points they have and the options for which they can redeem their points." The selections include "far more experiential options that the team could not offer to its entire season ticket base previously." Indians Senior Communications Dir Curtis Danburg said that options "could include throwing out a first pitch, sitting with radio announcer Tom Hamilton in his booth or other on-field experiences." E Group Senior Loyalty Marketing Manger Lisa Missling said that the Indians "are the first in Major League Baseball to employ such a tactic, though E Group is working with" the NHL's Predators and Wild (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 9/10 issue).