Monday, February 28, 2005

NHL Rachets up the Rhetoric

The NHL has several people pushing their rhetoric in the media in advance of the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA/Agents meetings this week.

Mario Lemieux , Lou Lamoreillo and Bobby Clarke are all involved. Is that a sign of despiration? Are the owners prepared to lose one season, but no more and are starting to see major losses even if there is a 2005/06 season?

Mirtle on All Time No Cups Team

Yesterday I posted my All Time Team without Stanley Cups. James Mirtle makes a couple comments on the topic here.

The number of players who play great careers but retire without any career Stanley Cup wins will climb rapidly in the future. More teams in the league mean a lesser percentage of players in any given season win the cup. It used to be that 1 in 6 players won the cup each year, now its 1 in 30.

Mirtle also comments that he thinks goalies lag behind forwards and defencemen. I'm not so sure this is true. I think that is mostly our perception. Goaltender stats are such that goalies on good teams tend to get better numbers (GAA, wins, shutouts) then goalies on bad teams, so we tend to underestimate good goalies on lesser teams. I would argue, that in 2003/04 Roberto Luongo was the best goalie in the NHL - but since he was unable to post the numbers Martin Brodeur did, Brodeur won the Vezina.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

All Time Team Without Stanley Cups

On Thursday, I posted by all time hockey team. I just realized that all of those players have won Stanley Cups. I decided to try to make an all time team with no career Stanley Cups (its not so easy). I made two rules before starting. 1) Players must be officially retired. No currently active guys with no cups yet. and 2) Players must have been NHL players. Tretiak was great, but since he never played an NHL game of course he never won a Stanley Cup.

Here is my team:

1. Marcel Dionne
2. Norm Ullman
3. Gilbert Perreault
4. Darryl Sittler
5. Mike Gartner
6. Adam Oates
7. Peter Stastny
8. Dale Hawerchuk
9. Michel Goulet
10. Rod Gilbert
11. Pat LaFontaine
12. Jean Ratelle

1. Brad Park
2. Borje Salming
3. Phil Housley
4. Randy Carlyle
5. Mark Howe
6. Harry Howell

1. Ed Giacomin
2. Mike Liut

I don't think I missed anyone significant. Its not an easy team to make.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The NHL Just Wants A Partnership with the Players

"The NHL just wants a partnership with the players", that is an often repeated piece of propoganda used by the NHL owners and their supporters. It sounds good and fair. Who could be against being "partners"? "Partnership" is one of those Orwellian terms that sounds great, but doesn't mean to the NHL the same thing it is meant to appear to mean to the mass populace.

I would argue that the NHLPA and NHL already have had a partnership. The details of that partnership are outlined in the old Central Bargaining Agreement. The agreement spells out how their partnership works.

In the new CBA, the NHL wants to dictate the details of how they will be partners in the future. It would in fact create new terms for their "partnership", but it is hardly a good and fair equal partnership that many people will assume from the phrase.

Further, there is reason to believe that the NHL's intent is to break the NHLPA so that they can dictate all future bargaining schemes. This is not a partnership at all. It is an attempted powerplay, where one side is trying to exert dominance over the other.

Despite there claims, the NHL has no desire to form a partnership with the players. This idea is a motivating factor for some (clearly not all) members of the NHLPA. To them this idea of what they see as "fairness" is more important than cutting a deal where they can maximize the money they will get.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Disney sells the Ducks

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to sell the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to Henry Samueli, the man who runs Arrowhead Pond where the team plays hockey. The Ducks are a posterboy franchise for Bettman's ill-fated expansion into non-traditional markets with weak hockey ownership. Hockey has not been a consistent sell in Orange County. That said, the team was sold in probably the worst market conditions the NHL has had in ages (due to a lockout) by a motivated seller (Disney wanted to get out of the hockey game) for something in the $50 to $60 million range. Disney paid $50 million for their expansion. So even selling under poor circumstances in a poor market, teams increase moderately in value. Imagine what could have been made if they sold high? And for this problem, the NHL is locked out and we dont get to see any games. Does that make it all worth while for the fan?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

But will it get them to the Hall of Fame?

There are several players who have close to Hockey Hall of Fame credentials in the NHL who have played important roles in the negotiation of the new NHL CBA. Brendan Shanahan and Jeremy Roenick would be at the forefront of this group. I'm sure its not their primary motivation, but will their involvement be seen as a positive that makes them more likely to make the Hall of Fame?

My answer is yes ... maybe. It will take a few years perspective to have a more complete answer. If the NHL comes back stronger then before then yes it is quite likely to help them. If the NHL is currently in its death spirals and soon to be replaced by a European super league or a WHA-type North American league, then it makes no difference. The players involved in the formation of the new league, however, might get a boost in their hall of fame chances.

As a hall of fame junkee, its the best that is going on right now. I wish I could be discussing how hockey playing results have helped people's hall of fame chances instead of off-ice negotiations.

All Time Team

Since there is very little action in hockey today, and also since I want to stay out of the "he said/ she said" battle that has gone on between Bettman and Goodenow regarding the events of last weekend (which one is the she?) - other than to say its really a shame that the sport we love so much has come down to public bickering for the sake of bickering, I decided I would try to find other hockey things that might be more fun to discuss. I think its best to dive into the history of hockey for topics. But I need to find a few topics that are worth discussing and are timeless - in that discussing them now makes sense.

First such topic is to make an all time hockey team. This team has 12 forwards, 6 defenceman and 2 goalies. Its an all time all star team. I don't want to try to project forward any currently active players (because inevitably the projections will be wrong) - so I will stick to players who have retired or nearly completed their careers. With no further ado, here is my team:

Wayne Gretzky
Mario Lemieux
Gordie Howe
Maurice Richard
Jean Beliveau
Bobby Hull
Guy Lafleur
Phil Esposito
Mike Bossy
Ted Lindsay
Mark Messier
Steve Yzerman

Bobby Orr
Doug Harvey
Eddie Shore
Ray Bourque
Larry Robinson
Paul Coffey

Patrick Roy
Terry Sawchuk

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ways NHL Could Have Contracted Weak Bettman Mistake Markets

On Saturday, I wrote that the root of the current problems the NHL is facing was from Gary Bettman's ill-fated expansion into weak hockey markets with soft ownership. Jeannie responds warning of the legal and PR nightmares that might develop if the NHL tried to dissolve those teams.

I don't think the problem is as big as she imagines. The best way to get rid of these teams is attrition. Let them die. If the owners in those markets get tired of losing money on their teams they will merely close up shop and go away. Even with this lockout, it is possible that franchises in places like Anaheim and Carolina may not survive. They may wind up folding. Let it happen. This is the cleanest way to get rid of poor NHL teams. Maybe a couple might move to new markets. I think it would be poetic justice for the Phoenix Coyotes to be moved to Winnipeg.

There is no reason to believe that the stronger markets would ever go anywhere. Its the weakest handful that be lost. The NHL would be stronger without having to prop up its weak sisters.

If that situation is too painful for the owners how about this one? They have built up a $300 million war chest to ride out the lockout. Why not use that money to contract weak teams instead? The benefit is we get to see NHL hockey while it happens. It looks as though Disney would be willing to sell the Mighty Ducks cheap to get out of the hockey business. Let them. The league could pay $50-60 million from their war chest to Disney and one team in a soft market is gone. Make similar offers to Florida, Carolina, Phoenix ... Why not?

Wouldn't it be a better choice than putting the money aside to fight with the players and stop playing games altogether? It gives the fans NHL hockey to watch as Bettman's mistakes are fixed.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Eklund - Kicking a Dead Horse

People who frequent the hockeyblog world are familiar with Eklund. He has claimed several times that he has the "inside scoop" on the NHL and has reported more than once that the NHL and NHLPA are about to unveil a new CBA. His story has been reported several times. For example here and here.

I am not one to kick a dead horse when he is down (at least not too often). But I stumbled upon this in I happened upon a chat called EKBLOGCHAT. It had a topic "EKLUNDS HOCKEY CHAT:EKLUNDS BLOG AND EMAIL HAVE BEEN HACKED: THE WHOIS POST IS FAKE". I was curious so I entered.

I asked: "is this chat related to that blog guy who keeps making up rumors about how the NHL and NHLPA have struck a sectret new CBA deal and are about to play?" somebody responded that "reports on does not equal makes up" so I responded "reporting falsehoods that nobody else reports = making up". At this point I was kicked out of the chat. I returned and told them who I was. I said "hello. This chat looks interesting. I have a blog and I would love to talk to (interview?) Eklund. Is that doable?" . I was told Eklund is not in the room. So I asked "OK. Can I ask. How many people here believe Eklund is legit?". One person responded that they did. Then I was booted again.

I didn't get very far. Currently the room has 31 members which makes it the busiest room on everywhere chat. So he appears to have his fans.

I just thought I would put into the public record, the latest bit of the Eklund story, since if I did not, my experiences with him would likely be lost and forgotten.

And for the record, if you read this Eklund leave me a message. I would still be willing to interview you.

Bettman's misplaced priorities

In the news today, Gary Bettman says about the weekend's failure to come up with a new CBA despite very high expectations from the media "I think this was a set up, I think this was done intentionally to try and cause the type of reaction we saw all weekend. I think they were trying to position us into an offer they knew I couldn't accept - either because they wanted me to make a mistake that I couldn't get through my board (of directors), or so we would ultimately agree to something we couldn't afford."

The problem is Bettman is busy playing the public relations game instead of trying to negotiate an agreement. I dont care about public relations. I just want hockey. Bettman seems more interested in spin.

What I Want from Pro Hockey

I want to be able to see high level hockey with the best players in the world competing against each other. I want it to be available so that I can see it on television most nights and go to a game or two a year. I want continuity from one season to the next (ie. teams do not turn over large percentages of their roster annually). I want a situation where any team can win in principle (as long as they are well run).

The consequence of those desires is that a team will get good and stay good for several years - since they dont turn over much of their roster annually. On the flip side, weak teams will take a few years to become good, but if they are run well they can do this.

I do not care if this is under the banner of the NHL or not. That name adds nothing to the quality of the game. It is having the best players in the world playing at their top level that matters.

One View from the NFL

I have never really been a big fan of NFL football. I am a sports fan (with a hockey obsession!) who has watched a few NFL games over the years, but I have never really followed the league.

The NFL is interesting to NHL fans from a business standpoint. It has the most owner-friendly CBA of the major North American sports leagues. It also has the largest viewership and make the most money. Probably those facts are not related in any causal way. Americans love football and will support it even at the high school level, so why shouldn't the NFL be big business?

Hardline NHL owners and their supporters often point to the NFL as the way a league should be run. Is it run the way the NHL should be run?

Here is one football fan who dislikes the way the NFL CBA forces teams to operate. Big name stars like Laveranues Coles find themselves released in the off season due to the limiting salary cap. Do we want to see more of that in the NHL?

Sunday, February 20, 2005


One of my favorite places to go (in the past) to discuss hockey is hfboards but that is not true anymore. Its just a buch of people sniping at each other about how evil either the owners or players are. There is very little hockey discussion left. That is a real shame.

Hockey is supposed to be fun. Even if the NHL and NHLPA cannot get along, why do the fans have to fight amongst themselves?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Root of the NHL's Problems

For the vast majority of its history, hockey has been a successful regional sport in USA. In fact, during the original six days, the New York Rangers were the southernmost NHL franchise. And during that time everybody made a lot of money from NHL hockey.

Gary Bettman took over the league in the 1990's. Hockey was still a regional sport that was successfully making a lot of people a lot of money. But he was determined to stop that. Bettman put new teams into weak markets with soft ownership that didn't have much interest in hockey. Bettman promised a big national TV deal that never really materialized. It should be clear now that plan has failed. These largely southern US teams are failing. They have no great TV deal. So what do we do know? Logically, we admit the mistake and go back to a successful regional NHL.

Bettman cannot do that. That would be admitting that his whole run as NHL commissioner has been a mistake. Instead he must prop up the poorly run new franchises in weak markets. The way he has chosen to do that is to impose a new CBA that pulls money away from the players. Do the stronger existing markets need this CBA? In general they do not. However, they would make even more money with it in place - so they are not strongly against it. This failure to admit Bettman's mistake has cost us a season so far (maybe we will see some joke mini-season).

The best plan for everyone is to get rid of a few poorly run franchises in weak hockey markets then to weaken all teams to their level. But Gary Bettman cannot do that without admitting his whole run as NHL commissioner has been wrong.

Still Going ... Nothing Outlasts the NHL Lockout

Not even the energizer bunny...

The NHL season is cancelled right? So its all over right?

Nope. The NHL and NHLPA are meeting right now in New York trying to iron out a new CBA deal and uncancel the season.

Plenty of rumors are swirling around about who is willing to accept what, but I plan to stay out of the rumormongering and wait and see what emerges.

I hope they do agree upon a new deal. I hope that this deal is good for the hockey fan. I have doubts as to whether or not it will be. When or if a deal is announced, I can go into that in more detail with a bit more firm fact to stand upon. I hope that any hockey that we do see after a deal is announced is not a farcicle short meaningless season. Again I have my doubts.

Let's just wait and see what (if anything) happens.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hockey is hockey?

I must be getting established as a blog. I got my first comment today. Somebody reads me!

On Monday, I wrote about the AHL all star game. Rob writes in reponse
I say bring in the scrubs. $20 seats vs. $100 seats. hockey is hockey.

That got me thinking. Is hockey hockey?

I love my hockey. I have been known to stop and watch when I am going down the street and notice a group of eight year olds playing a pickup street hockey game. Its hockey and hockey is exciting.

However, that hockey does not fill the same need as NHL hockey does. The beauty of NHL hockey is that it has been the best hockey players in the world competing against one another. Thats what makes it special. Thats why I will pay more to see it then I would to see other hockey. Thats why AHL hockey (or any other league) cannot adequately fill the hole that the NHL lockout has left.

One of my biggest concerns regarding the NHL lockout is that when it is all over, the NHL will no longer have all the best players in the world. It is very possible that many of the Europeans will stay in Europe when its all done. If (for example) Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Markus Naslund are playing in Sweden and Ilya Kovlachuk and Jaromir Jagr are playing in Russia, then how special is the NHL? It loses a lot of its shine without its stars. From the point of view of a fan, I want to see regular competition between the best hockey players in the world. Whether it occurs under the NHL banner or not is immaterial. However, if it doesn't happen at all because the post-lockout NHL only contains some of the best players in the world and many of the best players are still in Europe then we all lose out.

Yahoo Fantasy Baseball Up and Running

Last Friday, I worried about what the implications of major league baseball buying the rights to all internet fantasy baseball might be for the fan and casual player(like myself). We seem to have our answer.

Today, Yahoo fantasy baseball was launched for the 2005 season. It looks the same as normal. They have free leagues and pay leagues (with more bells and whistles). At this point, it looks like there is no difference to Yahoo fantasy baseball when compared to last year.

My duffer league (composed of fantasy hockey players) is getting organized. I have signed up for it. Our draft is already scheduled for Tuesday, March 22nd. As that date closes, I'm sure I will write more about it.

So if the NHL were to take over internet fantasy hockey, as long as its unchanged to the fantasy player (like this appears to be), I have no concerns about it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

NHL Officially Cancels Season

Most of us saw this one coming for the past several weeks. Today Gary Bettman officially cancelled the NHL season.

The writing was on the wall last night when Goodenow and Bettman were negotiating with press releases that quickly became available all over the internet. Any real negotiation is done in person and not in the media.

In the end, both sides got closer together then we expected, but they still have a long way to go. The difference is not merely in the number of dollars in the proposed salary caps. There were many issues that got swept under the rug, that never reached any agreement. The negotiations were done from the top down and the sides never did agree on the top point. They never seriously discussed any points below that.

So what happens next? If the NHLPA suddenly said to the NHL that they will accept the last NHL proposal, I bet we do have a season (although there is no chance that will happen). So the cancellation of the season isn't quite final (although in all likelihood it will be)

Probably, nothing happens for a while. Both sides worked hard on not agreeing. Now they have no motivation to do anything for a while. The next serious negotiations likely occur when circumstances change. This may be draft time. This would be if the WHA announces their long rumored spring tournament. Until then what can fans do? Wait. Complain. Get further alienated. Its not a pretty situation is it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Final Offer?

NHL has given an offer to the players with a $42.5 million per team salary cap. They claim this is a final offer with no room to negotiate. Of course they have made that claim a few times in the past.

For the record, the NHLPA cap was $52 million.

The devil is in the details. I'm sure there are many other differences between the two sides offers that we will come to understand in time. The problem is there is no time. I think time ran out weeks ago - despite their refusal to accept this.

Too Little Too Late?

I guess the most serious (or most desperate) negotiating is done at the last minute, but didn't that pass a month or so ago?

There was serious movement in the position of both the NHL and NHLPA yesterday. The NHL is now willing to look at CBA deals that do not have linkage of player salaries to a negotiated defined revenue. The NHLPA gave an offer that includes a salary cap - although the cap is far higher than the NHL has ever offered. Where was this willingness to bargain in December when there actually was hope of a season?

I am not sure that these offers on the table are any better for the fan than the previous CBA - but at least they are trying to reach common ground.

Lets be serious now. If they reached an agreement right now, could they possibly have a meaningful season? The proposed schedule on the table is a 28 game regular season where each team plays every team in their conference twice (once at home and once on the road) and never travels out of their conference. Then they play a full playoff. 28 games? Is that long enough to not be a big joke? 48 games in 1994/95 was too short. In the 48 game game season, I think Eric Lindros's Hart trophy was tainted. Odds are he would not have been healthy enough to play a full schedule and somebody else would have won the Hart. In 28 games what kind of flukes could happen? The stats from the season would require a big askerisk. James Mirtle laughs at the prospect of (for example) a 32 point Art Ross Trophy winner.

I am addicted to hockey. I love it. If the NHL offered at 28 game season with playoffs running into July, I would watch and I would enjoy it. But for the sake of the league, its probably not a good idea. It might make them look like a bigger joke then they do with no season.

Either way, the rumor is that the NHL will finally cancel the season as soon as tomorrow. In my mind, there has been no hope of a season for a month at least.

Monday, February 14, 2005

AHL Hockey is Alive and Well

Far too often, I think about the state of hockey today and I get hung up on the NHL and its labor problems and get depressed about it. Hockey is fine. The business of NHL hockey may be in trouble right now. But hockey is fine.

As proof, the AHL is playing its all star game. Should be great. Lets enjoy it. Thanks to the NHL lockout, there is more talent in the AHL now then ever before.

Here is a look at the all stars (many are familiar NHL names). Team Canada plays Planet USA in the all star game. Planet USA includes players from everywhere on earth except Canada

2005 Canadian AHL All-Stars
2 D Dan Hamhuis Milwaukee
3 D Jay Bouwmeester San Antonio
4 D Brad Tiley ("C") Milwaukee
7 D Nolan Baumgartner Manitoba
8 D Steve Eminger Portland
9 F Jason Spezza (starter) Binghamton
10 F Simon Gamache Milwaukee
12 F Eric Perrin Hershey
13 F Mike Cammalleri (starter) Manchester
16 F Patrick Sharp Philadelphia
17 F Michel Ouellet (starter) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
19 F Chuck Kobasew Lowell
21 F Eric Staal Lowell
23 F Rene Bourque Norfolk
25 D Dennis Wideman (starter) Worcester
28 D Lawrence Nycholat (starter) Hartford
30 G Joey MacDonald Grand Rapids
31 G Mathieu Garon Manchester
32 F Jason King Manitoba
35 G Jason LaBarbera (starter) Hartford
37 F Patrice Bergeron Providence
77 D Travis Roche Chicago
97 F Kyle Wellwood St. John's

2005 PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars
1 G Antero Niittymaki Philadelphia
2 D Keith Ballard Utah
5 D Brian Pothier Binghamton
6 D Niklas Kronwall (starter) Grand Rapids
7 F Brandon Bochenski Binghamton
8 D Andrew Hutchinson Milwaukee
10 F Craig Darby ("C") Springfield
11 F Zach Parise (starter) Albany
14 F Tomas Plekanec Hamilton
16 F Tony Salmelainen Edmonton
17 F Ryan Kesler Manitoba
18 F Alexander Svitov Syracuse
19 F Andy Hilbert (starter) Providence
20 D Christian Ehrhoff Cleveland
21 F Mikko Koivu Houston
23 F Dustin Brown (starter) Manchester
24 F Michael Holmqvist Cincinnati
27 F Sean Bergenheim Bridgeport
30 G Ryan Miller Rochester
34 G Kari Lehtonen (starter) Chicago
37 D Denis Grebeshkov Manchester
44 D Joni Pitkanen (starter) Philadelphia
84 D Anton Volchenkov Binghamton

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Fantasy Draft Today

Today my fantasy hockey league had its annual draft. Plan A was to hold it during training camp of the NHL season but the NHL season never came. Its kind of a lull for fantasy hockey right now since there is no real hockey. And that is the case in our league too. Its hard to keep a bunch of GMs together with no games. That said we are doing pretty well.

Here is the draft:

round 1

01 ANAHEIM - absent
02 NY RANGERS - Alexander Ovechkin
03 NEW JERSEY - Evgeni Malkin
04 MONTREAL (via TORONTO) - Cam Barker
05 NY RANGERS (via NASHVILLE) - Lauri Tukonen
06 BOSTON (via DETROIT) - Rostislav Olesz
07 COLUMBUS - Marek Schwarz
08 BOSTON - Robbie Schremp
09 COLORADO - Al Montoya
10 SAN JOSE (via CALGARY) - Andrew Ladd
11 TORONTO (via MINNESOTA) - Vaclav Nedorest (St Louis)
12 MONTREAL (via DALLAS) - A J Thelen
13 CAROLINA - Drew Stafford
14 NEW JERSEY (via BUFFALO) - Blake Wheeler
15 TORONTO (via PITTSBURGH) - Brooks Orpik (Philadelphia)
16 TAMPA BAY - Antero Nittymaki (Detroit)
17 EDMONTON - Jan Hrdina (Vancouver)
18 NEW JERSEY (via LOS ANGELES) - Alexandre Picard
19 ATLANTA - Alexander Radulov
20 PITTSBURGH (via SAN JOSE) - Jussi Markkanen (Detroit)
21 TAMPA BAY (via ST LOUIS) - Josh Langfeld (Calgary)
22 FLORIDA - Johannes Salmonsson
23 DALLAS (via PHILADELPHIA) - absent
24 CALGARY (via NY ISLANDERS) - Chris Clark (Edmonton)
25 DETROIT (via PHOENIX)- Kiril Koltsov (Toronto)
26 OTTAWA - Radoslav Suchy (Tampa Bay)
27 CHICAGO - Ladislav Smid
28 MONTREAL - Timofei Shishkanov (Montreal)
29 TORONTO (via WASHINGTON) - Jonas Johansson (Anaheim)
30 VANCOUVER - Miroslav Zalesak (NY Islanders)

round 2

31 NASHVILLE (via NY RANGERS) - Lukas Kaspar
32 NEW JERSEY - Boris Valabik
33 NY ISLANDERS (via ANAHEIM) - Joe Corvo (Carolina)
34 PITTSBURGH (via TORONTO) - Brian Leetch (St Louis)
35 NASHVILLE - Brad Isbister (Carolina)
36 ST LOUIS (via DETROIT) - Andrej Mezaros
37 COLUMBUS - Alexei Semenov (NY Rangers)
38 COLORADO (via BOSTON) - Andy Hilbert (Montreal)
39 DETROIT (via COLORADO) - Sean Bergenheim (Anaheim)
40 SAN JOSE (via CALGARY) - Bryan Allen (Minesota)
41 ATLANTA (via MINNESOTA) - Travis Zajac
42 BOSTON (via DALLAS) - Henrik Lundqvist
43 CAROLINA - Wojtek Wolski
44 SAN JOSE (via BUFFALO) - Shaone Morrisonn (Vancouver)
45 NEW JERSEY (via PITTSBURGH) - Devan Dubnyk
46 TORONTO (via TAMPA BAY) - Petteri Nokelainen
47 EDMONTON - Jaroslav Spacek (Toronto)
48 CAROLINA (via LOS ANGELES) - Patrik Eaves (Boston)
49 ATLANTA - Noah Welch
50 CAROLINA (via SAN JOSE) - Dennis Wideman
51 CAROLINA (via ST LOUIS) - Loui Eriksson
52 FLORIDA - Ossi Vaannanen (Minnesota)
54 NY ISLANDERS - Shawn Belle
55 OTTAWA (via PHOENIX) - Anders Eriksson (Pittsburgh)
56 BOSTON (via OTTAWA) - Shea Weber
57 CHICAGO - Manny Malhotra (Florida)
58 ANAHEIM (via MONTREAL) - absent
59 NASHVILLE (via WASHINGTON) - Eric Boguneicki (Phoenix)
60 CAROLINA (via VANCOUVER) - Hugh Jessiman (Atlanta)

It is a combined waiver/entry draft. Those players who were waiver picks have their previous affiliation in the league shown in brackets after their name.

There are a couple franchises that could be made available to new GMs. If anyone actually reads this blog and thinks this league sounds like fun leave a comment and we might be able to set you up with a fantasy hockey franchise.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Free Agents Galore

One problem the NHL will have to deal with somehow (and I'm sure it will cause problems) is that there will be a lot of unrestricted free agents this summer when the season is cancelled.

No CBA means no entry draft. No entry draft means that the players available in it lead by Sidney Crosby can sue for free agency.

It gets worse. There are several players who would otherwise re-enter the draft who are still unsigned. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (Flyer draft picks) probably lead this group.

It still gets worse. Every player who would be a restricted free agent this summer could become unrestricted if there is no NHL to offer them qualifying offers.

And of course there are the guys who would be UFA's anyway.

If the lockout goes a few years, its possible that when they get back there are teams that only have a handful of players under contract and 90% or more of the players in the NHL are unrestricted free agents. How is that good for the fan? It would completely ruin any continuity with the old pre-lockout NHL.

MLB playing hardball with internet fantasy baseball

Major League Baseball purchased the exclusive rights to run fantasy baseball for the next 5 years from the MLBPA.

Major League Baseball trying to take over ALL internet fantasy baseball

What does this mean to the casual player? I have played a free league on yahoo for a few years. Can yahoo even run fantasy baseball? Does think they will run (for a significant cost) all the internet fantasy baseball?

The legal question is can mlb claim to own its statistics - so that you cannot use them for fantasy sports if you chose? Probably not, but it might take an expensive court case to verify that answer.

Can hockey be far behind - if mlb finds this to be a cash cow?

Hockey vs Basketball

I think it is clear now that Plan A for the lockout for Gary Bettman and the NHL management was to break the NHLPA during the lockout. So far that hasn't happened. They have failed in Plan A. For the good of the NHL they need a good Plan B (there are many reasons to doubt that they have one).

I think their miscalculation on Plan A came from the basketball experiences of several owners (who own NBA and NHL teams) and most importantly Gary Bettman, who came to the NHL from the NBA where he was number two to commissioner David Stern. They saw how the NBA players union folded and accepted the NBA offer. They thought it would happen in hockey.

There is a fundamental difference in the kind of players the leagues have. The NBA is a largely inner city urban American crowd. These players often grew up in the "concrete jungle" and learned that they have to do whatever they can to get as much money for themselves as they can.

The NHL is largely composed of Canadians, Europeans and people from northern US states (the ones that voted for John Kerry). Hockey is a relatively expensive sport to play (compared to basketball). One must be able to afford much more equipment plus ice time to develop. Hockey is a middle class game. Hockey is established in the more socialist parts of the world where central bargaining unions are commonplace. Many NHL players have parents who were in unions and directly saw the benefits they brought to their families. Hockey players are sticking together. And we fans dont get to see any NHL hockey this year because the owners miscalculated. They thought the union would break like in the NBA.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lets Talk Hockey

One question that has fascinated me for many years is which currently active NHL players should get inducted into the hall of fame. When have they qualified?

A player gets on my list when he has accomplished so much that if he retired now, or worse became a really really crappy player, he would still be considered a hall of famer. I will not project any player forward in his career. This list is based only upon accomplishments to date.

At what level should we set the cutoff for the hall of fame? This is a subjective question. Everyone has their own answer. Mine is that we set it at a point where in the historical context of previous inductions, it is rediculous to not induct this player.

Who would I induct among the currently active NHLers (active meaning not officially retired. There is no NHL to be active in)

1. Mark Messier
2. Mario Lemieux - yes I know he is already there
3. Steve Yzerman
4. Ron Francis
5. Brett Hull
6. Jaromir Jagr
7. Luc Robitaille
8. Dave Andreychuk
9. Joe Sakic
10. Chris Chelios
11. Brian Leetch
12. Al MacInnis
13. Scott Stevens
14. Nicklas Lidstrom
15. Dominik Hasek
16. Ed Belfour
17. Martin Brodeur

And nobody else ... at this point. Though I can think of many who are close.

No NHL this year

So why do we need another blog about this? I guess we don't. But I still want to vent. The NHL season isn't going to happen. That is a major blackeye on my favorite sport (hockey!) and for what? So some people could argue about money.

What about the fan? How is this good for the diehard hockey fan? It isn't.

That problem is self-correcting. In the future there will be less diehard hockey fans.

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