Labor negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA "may resume" tomorrow after four days with no talks, according to Ira Podell of the AP. The location and the agenda are "yet to be determined.” The sides held two days of talks last week in N.Y. “without discussion of hockey-related revenue -- the core economic issue that has prevented the NHL regular season from starting on time” (AP, 10/13). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch noted the players are to miss their first payday today, “but will receive their escrow payments from last season in the next two weeks which will help ease the pain” (OTTAWA SUN, 10/13).
POISONOUS ATMOSPHERE: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Eric Duhatschek wrote four weeks into the NHL lockout, “It is clear how little trust exists on either side” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/12). In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa wrote, “In hindsight, the lack of movement underscores the failing of both sides to initiate negotiations earlier” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote, “Last time, there was a sense in a substantial corner of the hockey world that honestly and passionately believed the fight was about levelling the playing field.” But “nobody outside of the NHL board of governors or the NHLPA believes that now.” Cox: “A guess would be that the vast majority of hockey fans don’t identify a good guy in any of this and certainly cannot imagine a result that would make the game cheaper for fans, more enjoyable or more exciting. …You can believe one side or the other is in the right, but there has yet to be a voice able to articulate any way in which this fight is good for fans or the game or the competition.” It "feels like the poison between the owners and players is starting to seep into the fabric of the hockey industry.” Commissioner Gary Bettman has “failed the game and destroyed any claim he might have had to being a commissioner for anything but the owners and their avarice.” NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr has “proven to be of nearly no value whatsoever as far as ending the cycle of vicious labour squabbles.” Fehr knows “almost nothing about the game, he’s tired and worn after too many baseball battles and offers nothing new” (TORONTO STAR, 10/13).
SEEING PLAYERS’ SIDE: In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote, “One side, and one side only, has offered concessions in an attempt to settle this dispute and have a season. That’s the players’ side.” Nothing is “more critical toward an agreement than the NHL agreeing to honor all existing contracts that account for approximately $5.2 billion going forward by capping escrow on these deals in their entirety.” That is the “first step toward a 2012-13 season” and “must be taken by the owners.” Brooks: “Under no circumstances should the players be forced to take an immediate pay cut” (N.Y. POST, 10/14). In Denver, Adrian Dater writes, “I do not feel like the bread-and-butter fan will be back to NHL games whenever the masters of the universe deign to drop the puck again on a real game. Not this season anyway.” Dater: “Strangely, I’m feeling that way myself. I just can’t seem to muster any passion for either side in this tired standoff anymore. At first, I thought I was 100-percent pro-player, but it’s wearing off some. Donald Fehr, I fear, doesn’t have any real passion for hockey players.” Dater added, “As for Gary Bettman, well: I’ve lost faith in you” (DENVER POST, 10/15). In Toronto, Steve Simmons wrote, “Whatever enthusiasm and excitement I once had for the National Hockey League is slowly being beaten out of me by the grim and unnecessary lockout of players” (TORONTO SUN, 10/14).
BAD SIGN: The GLOBE & MAIL’s David Shoalts wrote, “One more sign the NHL lockout will be a long one popped up Friday when players for the farm teams of the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils, including a number of players on NHL contracts, were told to secure housing for the entire American Hockey League season.” This indicates management for the Devils and the Blue Jackets “believe the lockout is not about to end” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/12).
REPLACEMENT SHOWS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote NBC Sports Network’s “Return to London” series premiering today is “only the first wave of replacement programming for NBCSN hockey telecasts, which won’t see the light of day because of the lockout.” NBC execs, who “must pay the NHL even if the entire season goes down the tubes, are staying cool.” But if the situation “isn’t resolved in 30 days, things could get sticky.” A source said HBO’s “Road to the Winter Classic,” featuring the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, is “very much in play.” Raissman wrote the production crew “does not have to join the teams until the first week in December to start filming the reality show” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/14).
BROAD STREET LOYALTY: In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi reported the Flyers have "sold 18,200 season tickets for 2012-13" and only “twelve people have canceled their tickets because of the lockout.” If more season-ticket holders canceled their tickets, perhaps the NHL “wouldn't be so quick to have a work stoppage whenever the CBA expired." Perhaps that would "send a message that enough is enough.” Carchidi: “From here, the NHL takes its fans for granted.” If the NHL and NHLPA come to an agreement and “resume the season a little after Thanksgiving (and save the Winter Classic),” a lot of fans “would be satisfied.” The fans “would get to see a 50-game season and would save money from the canceled games, including the exhibition contests that season-ticket holders are forced to purchase” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/14).
OUTDOOR OUTREACH: In Nashville, Josh Cooper reported the Predators on Saturday “held a party” outside Bridgestone Arena and “an open skate and movie night inside.” The team has “bolstered its community outreach efforts.” It also “scheduled an exhibition game between the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Huntsville Havoc and Knoxville Ice Bears on Oct. 20” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/14).