Photo: NY Daily News
Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to welcome Ian Dudgeon to the MLHS blogging team. Ian was one of the co-founders of McKeen’s Hockey.com. He’s been busy at work assembling a database of profiles on Leafs prospects for MLHS, which you’ll be able to enjoy before long. He’s also going to be chiming in with a blog here and there.
Everyone please calm down and resume taking your medication. I have some extra Valium if you need some. There is no imminent NHL lockout. You will not be forced to watch basketball in October or November, or whenever they start playing that alleged sport. I think we will have hockey when we are supposed to and the threat of a lockout or strike is being artificially inflated by sports media who love, live for and need controversy.
The NHL tabled a proposal to the NHLPA this weekend and the collective reaction was as if everyoneâ€™s favourite commish, Gary â€œThe Countâ€ Bettman took the Stanley cup and used it to prop up his car while he rotated the tires. From fans and media alike, it was one of the craziest overreactions I have heard since.. well since the Leafs last made a move. But really, I should stop being surprised at how sports media react to things and how fans take their cues from them. The little picture numbers seemed scary but stepping back and seeing the bigger landscape, the NHLâ€™s proposal was really not that concerning.
AfterÂ months of political manoeuvring and speculation… and pending ratification, Donald Fehr appears primed to formally take office as the Executive Director of the NHLPA with the Ilya Kovalchuk saga providing an appropriate backdrop. Despite having earlier dismissed himself as a candidate for the role, the former MLBPA hardliner is now expected to spearhead the players union through the next series of collective bargaining negotiations in 2012.
Either a spectre to be feared, or a challenge to be relished for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, one wonders if the league office wishes it had treated the ailing NHLPA with kid gloves following the late, late night coup that saw former figurehead Paul Kelly overthrown in August 2009.
Pension Plan Puppets’ Chemmy has the details on why turn-coating for the Habs for the sake of returning the Cup to Canada is staggeringly ludicrous. Here’s why, if you must cheer for someone (a better alternative: perusing Down Goes Brown‘s youtube Wendel collection for your spring-time fix), the Hawks are your safest bandwagon to board while maintaining some sense of pride and loyalty:
Years ago, we were all stunned when Islander GM Garth Snow handed goaltender Rick DiPietro an astounding 15 year contract back in 2005. Fast forward to present day, and this recent fad of handing out double digit term into a player’s forties is very quickly starting to get out of hand. Detroit GM Ken Holland gives out 12 and 11 year contracts to Zetterberg and Franzen respectively, Chicago joins the party with a 12 year contract for Hossa (which is now being investigated by the league), and Philly decides it would like to ink Pronger through age 42. Last but not least, news broke earlier today of a shiny new 12 year extension for 30 year old goaltender Roberto Luongo. Well enough is enough.
One would be forgiven for trying to avoid the latest behind-the-scenes circus to befall the league and its players association. Amid the ongoing and incredulous tug of ego’s taking place at the now infamous Phoenix courthouse, Paul Kelly, Executive Director of the NHLPA was fired after a ten hour marathon of meetings in Chicago on Sunday.
Kelly, who was thought to support expansion or relocation back into the Canadian market, was reportedly relieved of his duties following an expensive, ramshackle and unconstitutional investigation fronted by interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove.
The investigation cited internal disputes surrounding Kelly’s direction, a lack of face time with the members of the union and an deep rooted belief that Kelly was becoming too close to the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy Bill Daly.
Resulting in a vote of no confidence from the 30 players who make up the NHLPA’s executive board, Kelly’s position within the union was terminated after just 22 months in office and Ian Penny, former second in command as General Counsel, was installed as the interim executive director.
Judge Redfield T. Baum has ruled that Jim Balisillie cannot use bankruptcy law to force his purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes.Â Â The judge has also ruled that the NHL’s relocation requirements do not violate anti-trust legislation.
Anybody who has played an EA Sports hockey title in the last decade will be familiar with the create-a-team function whereby the gamer is allowed to shape a franchise, choose its name, logo and location and in some cases even build their own virtual arena. Taking that concept to a slightly grander scale yesterday at the Rosewater Supper Club, yet another â€œconsortiumâ€ broke ranks from correct NHL procedure to unveil their somewhat bizarre vision for a new expansion franchise in Toronto.
The interview between league Commissioner, Gary Bettman, on Toronto radio station, FAN590 segment “The Game Plan” featuring Doug Maclean and Jack Armstrong, was a first hand look at the battle the relocation to Hamilton has become. Stating that after Jim Balsillie’s attempts at hijacking the Nashville Predators to Hamilton, the commish indicated he sat down with the billionaire outlining what it would take to become an NHL owner.
NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly was on HockeyCentral At Noon today, and among other topics he briefly discussed the possibility of a second NHL team coming to Toronto.
When asked why Toronto has not been seriously considered to date as a home for another franchise, despite the enormous fan base and subsequent opportunity to succeed financially, Kelly suggested that MLSE was not the source of resistance.
I can’t provide anything more than rumours and speculation at this point, but there appears to be a story of considerable magnitude brewing tonight concerning several Montreal Canadiens players. Earlier tonight, RDS, the main television station for the Habs reported that there would be a “huge bomb” dropped on the city of Montreal tomorrow.
Update: Sportsnet will have the entire breaking story starting at midnight.
Just six months ago many a grapevine was carrying rumor of NHL expansion while I lamented the integrity of a revenue bound salary cap. Even into the new season few had foreseen the sheer gravity of the global economic downturn and its impact on jobs, housing, businesses and every facet of life down to sport. Now as international markets stutter into a depression that many an analyst believe could change the face of modern capitalism forever, the NHL seems to remain steadfast in addressing itâ€™s minor successes as opposed to itâ€™s crippling and potentially devastating financial model.
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With Cliff Fletcher sticking around for the upcoming season, the Maple Leafs have gone forward in hiring new staff since the start of the off-season. It seems the philosophy among many franchises around the league is to create positions to fill with excellent hockey minds in order to improve their own hockey growth and knowledge above the ice surface. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has finally joined in on that idea by adding Al Coates as the Director of Player Personnel, Jeff Jackson as the assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006 who focuses primarily on collective bargaining duties and contract negotiations, and an overhaul of the coaching staff other than Keith Acton, who has found a way to stay within the organization after stints under head coaches Paul Maurice and Pat Quinn.