Sunday, June 05, 2005

6/5 Notes

Greg Wyshynski of SportsFan Magazine ponders the possibility that the NHL lockout could continue endlessly, or at least until the sun explodes. If you like Jes Golbez type material, this article is definitely a must-read. Among the gems in his satirical piece:
"I know the lockout is going to end because, alas, all things must end. If there isn't a settlement, the NHL might just fold. Or the players will start their own league, playing in American bingo halls and on the backyard ponds of selected farms in Manitoba. ("The New WHA: Watch Out for That Cow Pie, Hoser!") Or the sun will one day explode, casting the Earth into darkness and ending civilization as we know it; turning the surface of our once-great planet into a giant graveyard populated only by cockroaches, stinkweed, and the indestructible Dave Andreychuk. "
He then goes on to make a lockout timeline for the distant future:
"August 11, 2005: Brendan Shanahan convenes yet another meeting of hockey progressives seeking to increase scoring and make the game more exciting. Proposals include instituting a "three-goal arc," playing each period one-on-one and restricting goalies to using only one skate. ... November 2005: To protest the ongoing labor dispute, Eric Lindros goes on a hunger strike, throwing an entire two-month supply of Gerber’s Soft Carrots in the trash... ... January 25, 2006: Scott Stevens is found in his living room, sitting on a coffee table in full pads and jersey, rocking back and forth while muttering, "Put me in coach, put me in coach, put me in coach..." ... February 1, 2006: Brendan Shanahan convenes yet another meeting of hockey progressives seeking to increase scoring and make the game more exciting. Proposals include making each goal worth 87 points. For example: "The Avalanche defeated the Blue Jackets 261-174, on goals by Sakic, Forsberg and Blake..." ... September 2006: ESPN announces that not only will it not broadcast the NHL, it will refuse to acknowledge the sport ever existed in the first place by replacing all "SportsCentury" hockey episodes with reruns of "The Fabulous Sports Babe." ... December 10, 2006: Noted hockey columnist Stan Fischler makes journalism history by sourcing an article entirely with anonymous bloggers who make predictions that never come to pass and then erase their archives in order to not be exposed for the frauds they are. [Eklund] ... July 14, 2007: In an opium bar somewhere in the Far East, Brendan Shanahan convenes yet another meeting of hockey progressives seeking to increase scoring and make the game more exciting. Proposals include having players grow wings and play in the sky, and deciding overtime ties by having teams fight a large dragon. ... September 29, 2007: The NHL and the NHLPA finally come to a new collective bargaining agreement, with a $38 million salary cap and linkage between revenue and salaries. But then, at a press conference, Bettman rips off some white tape that had been placed on the CBA, revealing that he tricked the NHLPA into signing on for an $18 million cap instead! Goodenow smirks, and reveals he had signed the deal in disappearing ink! He then throws a smoke bomb, and the players association disappears through a trap door! Bettman: "You've won this round Goodenow...but there will be a next time..." ... August 2025: Gary Bettman, Jr. and Bob Goodenow III sit down at the bargaining table, offering hope to long-suffering Red Wings fans that Stevie Y might finally be back on the ice shortly. " ...
Some are optimistic that a deal can get done in the next couple weeks, some aren't, and some are just Larry Brooks. The New York Post writer went from calling the lockout over on Sunday to downright pessimism later in the week. Brooks cited "reliable sources" in both stories. Hopefully he doesn't use their insight for future stories...but his reputation tells me otherwise. And what are they smoking over at the Winnipeg Sun? Ted Wyman thinks the NHL will be much better off because of the lockout:
"A season will almost certainly be played in 2005-'06, and it looks like the NHL will be much, much better off than it was a year ago. There will be a strong drag on salaries, significantly lower payrolls and quite possibly positive rule changes that improve the flow of an increasingly-boring game. It will be an affordable league, the kind of financially-responsible loop people hoped for a decade ago when the Winnipeg Jets were getting set to fly south. "
I hate to shoot down optimism but that kind of rhetoric reminds me of the hippies who will protest all war in the name of "Peace." I'm sorry to say, but Wyman and his hippy buddies are out-of-touch with the world. There is going to be serious damage from this lockout and there will be war whether or not you dance in fields and set doves free and sing "Give Peace a Chance." And yes, the NHL lost its TV deal with ESPN, which said the league isn't worth half the $60 million option for next season. The previous deal was for 5 years, $600 million. While this won't affect fans in the Hockey Belt (including Detroit), this could mean a blackout for fans in the South/West. And with national coverage gone, who's to say we might not lose Fox Sports Detroit and end up with a pay-per-view channel like PASS Sports again? That would truly be the end of this league. Where has Dave Lewis been for the past 13 months? Most of the time on his 10-acre farm in northern Oakland County or running his bar "Joe & Lewie's Penalty Box" Sports Tavern and Eatery in Fenton (which he co-owns with Joey Kocur). With his contract up on July 1st, Lewie has got to be a bit nervous as he tends to his horses. Another thing for Lewie to worry about: a Russian newspaper reported that Pavel Datsyuk has signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Moscow Dynamo, and that it does not include an escape clause if the lockout ends. GM Ken Holland made calls to Datsyuk and his agent, leaving messages, and has not heard back from them. But he does not believe the report. And we've gotten these reports from Russian newspapers before, only to have them prove inaccurate in the end. My only worry is that Datsyuk might take the money and stay in Russia post-lockout. He made $1.5 million with the Wings last season and the Wings might not have room in their wallet to compete with the Russian oil-money under the new CBA. It's good to hear from Mickey Redmond via the Detroit News. Mick expressed his sadness and shock that the season wasn't saved last winter. Of all the things about hockey I miss, Mickey Redmond and Ken Daniels are definitely near the top of my list. It's a shock not to hear their voices after spending 8 years, 300+ hours / year enjoying their hockey analysis. UPDATE 6/14 Assistant GM Jim Nill on Datsyuk:
"We've talked to Datsyuk and his agent about the rumor of him not coming back, but it's not true. That was in the media. When we get a new CBA done and a new IIHF deal done, an NHL contract will always override an IIHF contract. It won't be an issue. It's not a concern."


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