Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 159

Leagues and Governing Bodies

With NHL labor negotiations stalled, "there does not appear to be any hope of preserving a full 82-game season" by today's deadline, according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday said, "Unfortunately, it looks like an 82-game season is not going to be a reality." He added that he had "no indication as to when the league and union would resume negotiations." Bettman: "We suggested they could talk to us about what we proposed or make an offer of (their) own and they declined to do either." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr last night said, "We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not." Bettman "indicated the league's last offer is unlikely to improve the longer the lockout endures." He said, "We made our very best offer, and that offer was contingent upon playing an 82-game season, for better or for worse, so I think things, in some respects, may get more difficult." A source with knowledge of the league's plan said that there is "likely to be a significant round of cancellations by the end of this week if no progress in negotiations is made." The source added that the NHL's "marquee moneymaker, the Winter Classic, is very much in jeopardy" (, 10/24). In Pittsburgh, Rob Rossi notes if a labor agreement is not reached today, the Winter Classic "would be canceled in November, along with the All-Star Game" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/25).

COMING TO A CROSSROADS: The AP's Ira Podell wrote the NHLPA "wants anything and everything open for discussion." Bettman "wouldn't agree to those terms, so the hockey season remains in peril" (AP, 10/24). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail wrote, "It's clear we aren't going to have a deal any time soon" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/25). In N.Y., Larry Brooks writes, "Expect the league to reduce its offer to the union to 47-percent of the revenue once the NHL cancels its next bloc of games" (N.Y. POST, 10/25). In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes the NHL "is getting tough" (TORONTO STAR, 10/25). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch writes Bettman "sent a message to the NHLPA Wednesday: Getting a deal done won't get easier" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/25). In N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote under the header, "League Gives Union The Silent Treatment" (, 10/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes while the two sides "didn't speak Wednesday, the farcical war of words over why exactly they weren't meeting continued" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/25).'s Joe Haggerty wrote it has "reached the point in these negotiations where nobody can differentiate between the PR spin battle and legitimate attempts to bridge the gap between each side." There is "no trust on either side" (, 10/24).

PLAYERS HOLDING THEIR LINES: Lightning RW B.J. Crombeen yesterday said, "We want to get something done. But they're not willing to. It's a bully tactic and it's not really negotiating" (, 10/24). Devils G Johan Hedberg said of the league quickly rejecting the union's three counter-proposals, "That's arrogance. That's not healthy. If that's the way they want to operate, I don't know what kind of leadership that is. I think it's disrespectful" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/25). Jets LW Andrew Ladd said, "They're not willing to talk unless we basically accept their proposal, with tweaks and trying to figure out the 'make whole' provision and as that sits, it's not really a great deal for us. There's a lot of things that go backwards for us" (WINNIPEG SUN, 10/25). In Chicago, Adam Jahns writes Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane "and possibly" C Jonathan Toews signing contracts to play overseas "should be unsettling." Kane said, "Hopefully for the owners, for the players and for everyone involved in these negotiations, it does spark some life into the negotiations." Toews: "It still seems like (the owners are) on a timeline, and they're waiting for a certain date to try and push us to the brink and see how much they can squeeze out of us" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/25).

ENTER THE SPIN ROOM: In Toronto, Damien Cox notes with more NHLers heading overseas, it is "likely an indication they are being told by NHLPA boss Donald Fehr not to expect a resolution to this labour spat for weeks." The time spent by both sides on "meaningless, peripheral stuff boggles the mind." This much "seems clear: The minute Gary Bettman said he wanted to start play Nov. 2, you knew the NHLPA would never give him that date" (TORONTO STAR, 10/25). The OTTAWA SUN's Garrioch cites sources as saying that the players "don't believe they've seen the league's best offer and this is all posturing." They "believe the owners never had any intention of doing a deal before the start of November and after the players missed two cheques" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/25).'s Pierre LeBrun wrote, "Tip of the hat to the NHLPA. Tuesday was some kind of PR bonanza for it." The perception to "Joe Fan is that the players are ready to get back to negotiating, and the league is not." But the "PR war won't settle this CBA." LeBrun: "I honestly do not believe Fehr had any intention of trying to hammer out a deal this week in the face of Bettman's Oct. 25 deadline. I think Fehr believes you can still have an 82-game season starting after Nov. 2, and I think his game plan this week, perhaps even next, is to make the NHL sweat it out a bit more" (, 10/24). In Detroit, Gregg Krupa writes Bettman and the owners "continue alienating the players, not to mention the governments and fans" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/25).'s Stu Hackel wrote, "One has to wonder if, in fact, the NHL's frequent apparent missteps might not be blunders at all, but intentional ploys designed to drive the two sides further apart" (, 10/24).

PLIGHT OF THE HOCKEY FAN: President Obama yesterday said, "I just want to remind the owners and the players: you guys make money because you've got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard. They buy tickets. They're watching on TV. Y'all should be able to figure this out. Get this done" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 10/24). ESPNW's Sarah Spain wrote the "roar from frustrated fans is duller than you'd think." Unlike the NFL and NBA lockouts of last year, social media "isn't buzzing with updates on every tiny detail of the NHL negotiations." Spain: "The problem? We've all been here before" (, 10/24). In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes, "You know what, NHL? Play, don't play, no one cares anymore." In the Raleigh area, the Hurricanes "already have slipped so far off the radar they might as well have moved to Quebec." If and when they do "start playing, they face a long road back" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/25).

MLB is “in discussions about the possibility of starting its 2014 season in Australia,” according to sources cited by Hernandez & Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. But it appears the negotiations “haven’t advanced to the point where specific teams are being included in the talks.” MLB Senior VP/PR Pat Courtney said, “We are not currently exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any other team to play in Australia.” However, Hernandez & Shaikin write a report in the Sydney Morning Herald “made clear that the Dodgers are at the top of the wish list of the Australian parties involved.” The report stated that the D’Backs “would be the Dodgers’ ‘likely opponents’ in a three-game series at the Sydney Cricket Ground.” One potential obstacle is "because a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney is almost 14 hours, the players union might be reluctant to accept a proposal." Still, the “upside is that the teams involved could raise their international profiles.” The D’Backs have been “making an active push to enhance their global brand” (, 10/24). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko in the original report stated Destination New South Wales, MLB and Australian Baseball League officials have been “working on the project for several years, but the identity of teams has been a heavily guarded secret.” Sports event-marketing firm Moore Sports Dir Jason Moore has been “in negotiations to make the series happen for six years,” and he “hopes the deal will be signed by the end of the year.” The plan is for the series to be played in March and for the two teams to "stay in Sydney for six days” (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/25).

A dozen current Saints players who have been on the team since at least '09 swear in declarations submitted on behalf of LB Jonathan Vilma that there was no bounty program on the club. The NFL alleges there was and that Vilma himself in '09 put a bounty on Vikings QB Brett Favre before the NFC Championship. The declarations were submitted to the league this week as part of Vilma’s appeal. Vilma attorney Peter Ginsburg said, “Each of the players swears under oath that there was no Bounty Program and that Jonathan never offered any money or incentive of any kind to encourage the injury of an opposing player, including [QB Kurt] Warner or Favre. Each player was a member of the defensive team at some time from ’09-11 and attended the pregame meetings where the 'bounties’ supposedly happened.” The 12 players are DEs Junior Galette, Cameron Jordan and Martez Wilson; DT Tom Johnson; LBs Ramon Humber and Scott Shanle; CBs Jabari Greer, Johnny Patrick and Patrick Robinson; and Ss Isa Abdul-Quddus, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins. In turning down Vilma’s appeal, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to him, according to a press release the league issued on Oct. 9, “I also find that you engaged in conduct detrimental by offering a substantial financial incentive to any member of the defensive unit who knocked Brett Favre out of the Saints’ 2009 NFC playoff game against the Vikings. (There is also credible evidence that you made a similar pledge regarding Kurt Warner in the immediately preceding playoff game against the Cardinals, but whether you made multiple pledges of that kind does not matter for purposes of the discipline that I have decided to impose.)” Vilma and the other three players suspended as part of the alleged pay to injury program are appealing their suspensions, and have asked a Louisiana federal court to recuse former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who Goodell appointed as arbitrator.

If former IndyCar CEO Tony George purchases the racing series, the backlash “would be massive and felt at the box office, as well as the TV ratings, which are already on life support,” according to Robin Miller of Miller fielded several questions related to George's reported takeover effort in his weekly online mailbag. Miller: "If the board does its due diligence, doesn’t it have to look at the bottom line and see how it’s improved since Randy Bernard took over? I can’t see how they would consider separating the series from Indianapolis [Motor Speedway] as a sound business decision.” IndyCar team owners John Barnes, Kevin Kalkhoven and Michael Andretti were reportedly aligned against Bernard, but Andretti has "had a change of heart and made some kind of peace with Bernard.” Team owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi “understand how unpopular [George] is with the open-wheel fan and why this would be bad business.” Miller: "The one glaring omission from the last couple ‘IndyCar isn’t for sale’ press releases [is that they] have not included any vote of confidence for Randy and that concerns me. I don’t trust some of those directors any more than I do [George] running the show” (, 10/24).

TRANSPARENCY PLEASE: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle wrote it is "time that the Hulman-George board lift the blinds and let their fans, investors and other supporters in on what’s being done to address sliding television ratings, small race crowds and sponsorship challenges" facing IndyCar. It is "far past time to let potential sponsors and investors know that this sport has a future -- a real, long-term, blueprint-driven future." This is the "sort of uncertainty that makes sponsors and other potential investors run for the hills." Schoettle: "Nothing kills sales faster than uncertainty. Especially when that uncertainty pertains to the product being sold." That is why IndyCar "finds itself -- once again -- in a less-than-ideal growth position this off-season." Perhaps it is "time for a little transparency." More than a "few people -- and not just open-wheel diehards -- say IndyCar is the best on-track product in racing right now." But "no one is really talking much about the good stuff." That is because the series' progress is "being overshadowed by the ivory-tower antics that make the sport seem like more of a circus" (, 10/24).