NHL Lockout, Day 103: No Meetings Scheduled Between League, NHLPA
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).