NHL Not This Season

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Bonnie, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Black ice: NHL season canceled
    By Kevin Allen and Mike Brehm, USA TODAY
    NEW YORK — Shortly after canceling the 2004-05 NHL season because of the ongoing labor dispute with players, Commissioner Gary Bettman vowed there would be a 2005-06 season.

    "I have no choice but to announce the formal cancellation of play for 2004-05," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
    By Julie Jacobson, AP

    "Virtually immediately, we as an organization, at the league level and our clubs, are going to begin planning for (next) season," he said. When asked about the use of replacement players, Bettman would say only that the league would explore all of its options.

    "We have not made any plans in terms of what that will look like because all of the efforts for the last five months have been devoted towards making a new deal so that we could have a 2004-2005 season," he said.

    NHL Players Association executive director Bob Goodenow blamed the league for the failure to reach a labor agreement to save the season. "Unfortunately we never had a real negotiating partner," he said.

    Bettman reiterated that some teams lost less money by not playing this season.

    Although locked-out players have strongly criticized Bettman, the commissioner said, "There is absolutely no animosity between the league and players. Our players are the best athletes in the world. They deserve to be fairly paid, and we want them back."

    Bettman rejected the notion that a compromise was evident for both parties at a salary cap of $45 million-$46 million. He insisted that pushing his offer to $42.5 million on a salary cap stretched his teams' resources. Both sides pulled their last offer off the table.

    "In one additional last-ditch effort to try to save the season, I gave an offer of another $2.5 million," Bettman said. "We were stretching to get there because we were projecting that under that deal, we would probably lose money for the next two years. ... When the union came back at $49 million, it was clear that there was no basis upon which we could make a deal."

    Goodenow emphasized the players' side.

    "Keep one thing perfectly clear," Goodenow said. "The players never asked for more money, they just asked for a marketplace to exist where they could negotiate with their clubs' owners for what their value was to their teams."

    It was as if no one wanted to believe the season was canceled. Some players, agents and general managers talked Wednesday as if negotiations might be able to get restarted quickly enough to play this season.

    Someone asked Bettman whether the cancellation could be rescinded if the NHLPA accepted the NHL's final offer.

    "Could we get back on track?" he said. "That's theoretically possible. And would I suffer the embarrassment of having another press conference four hours from now to save the season, you betcha. But that isn't going to happen."

    Money at issue when lockout started

    The NHL had locked out its players on Sept. 15, at the expiration of a 10-year collective-bargaining agreement that saw the league's average salary rise from $733,000 to $1.83 million. The league said it lost $500 million over the past two years, figures disputed by the union.

    Owners all along had sought "cost certainty," limiting player compensation to a fixed percentage of revenue. There was hope a deal could be worked out when the league dropped its insistence on that linkage.

    In a letter Tuesday night to Bettman, Goodenow said he did not believe all clubs would spend $49 million.

    "Your claim that the clubs cannot afford our proposal is based on your hypothetical fear of what would happen 'if every team spent to the $49 million level the players have proposed,' " he wrote. "The notion that 'every club' will spend at the $49 million level is contradicted by years of actual payroll experience."

    Bettman said that he was putting linkage to revenues back on the table.

    Although Bettman was unequivocal in announcing the cancellation, Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman held out hope that some kind of a miracle was still possible.

    "If you read into what (Bettman) said, it sounds like there is still an opportunity to get things done," Yzerman said. "The principles are there to make a deal, so I still think something can happen in the next day or two, because we're really not that far apart."

    Goodenow was less optimistic.

    "I think it's a fresh start and everything is off the table," he said. "It's a totally new environment. That much is for sure.

    "As far as anything happening this afternoon, it's not happening."

    Concern about the fans

    The question is whether fans will come back. Many expect hard-core fans to do so, but some might not.

    "It's just like baseball," said avid Dallas Stars fan Doug Branch, who sent his two children to school in hockey jerseys with black tape over the Stars logo. "After baseball pulled their shenanigans with their strike, I personally didn't want to go watch a game."

    Mighty Ducks of Anaheim fan club official Jim Maiers wants things settled long term and said that was more important than having a very short season.

    "At this point, people might have the impression that they were just kind of throwing something together. What's that going to mean?" he said. "If you go to the playoffs or win a Stanley Cup, there's going to have to be a big asterisk."

    This will be the first time the Stanley Cup isn't awarded since 1919 when a flu epidemic forced the finals to be called off. There was a lockout in 1994-95 that ended in time for teams to play 48 games, still more than half the regular season.

    "We profoundly regret the suffering this has caused our fans, our business partners and the thousands of people who depend on our industry for their livelihoods," Bettman said.

    "If you want to know how I feel, I'll summarize it in one word — terrible," he said.

    Before Monday, the idea of a salary cap was a deal-breaker for the players' association but the union gave in and said it would accept one when the NHL dropped its insistence that there be a link between revenues and player costs.

    That still wasn't enough to end the lockout that started on Sept. 16 and ultimately wiped out the entire 1,230-game schedule and the playoffs.

    The NHL's last game came in June, when the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Calgary 2-1 in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup.

    Since then, a lot of stars have moved on, going overseas to play. Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Lecavalier, Teemu Selanne, Joe Thornton and Saku Koivu are among those who went to Europe.

    For other older players, such as Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Yzerman and Dominik Hasek, the cancellation puts their careers in limbo.

    "This is a tragedy for the players," Bettman said. "Their careers are short and this is money and opportunity they'll never get back," Bettman said.

    And who knows when Canadian phenom Sidney Crosby will be able to get into the league, or what team he'll eventually play for. Since there was no season, there probably won't be an entry draft in June.

    An agreement must be place for the draft to be held, and there is no clear-cut way to determine the picking order once a deal is reached. Washington had the No. 1 selection last year and grabbed Russian sensation Alexander Ovechkin. No doubt the Capitals would love to go first again to pick Crosby.

    Taking a year off, or more, will only push the league further off the radar screen.

    But this was known back in 1998 when NHL teams began preparing for this possibility by creating a $300 million war chest. The collective bargaining agreement, that expired on Sept. 15, was extended twice after it was originally signed in 1994. That allowed for the NHL to complete its expansion plans without an interruption of play.

    "We lived through a decade of a collective bargaining agreement that didn't work," Bettman said. "It doesn't matter whose fault it was."

    A year ago, there were those who said at least one season was sure to be lost and that two was not out of the question. With the former now the reality and the latter a distinct possibility, both sides are regrouping for a longer fight.

    "When emotions are high, things are said, things are done," Wayne Gretzky, now a managing partner with the Phoenix Coyotes, said on ESPN. "Ultimately, these players want to play. I know too many of them love the game too much, and I just can't imagine these players not playing in the National Hockey League for two years. To me, I hope that doesn't happen because I don't know how we would recover."

    ***

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/2005-02-16-season-cancel_x.htm
     
  2. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    To you yankees, canadians and great lakers, this is gonna sound harsh, but who gives a rats ass? :eek:
     
  3. no1tovote4
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    no1tovote4 VIP Member

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    I miss hockey...mostly for the time spent at the bar watching the game.

    :beer:
     
  4. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Player's Association: "We don't care. We don't believe you. We're the only people in the western hemisphere who don't realize hockey isn't exactly profitable or even that popular."

    It's too bad too because I enjoy hockey.

    If they aren't careful they're liable to strike major league hockey in the U.S. right out of existence purely out of spite.
     
  5. hylandrdet
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    hylandrdet Member

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    It sucks. I had already trained my little girl to know when to bang on the glass.

    I take her to every Red Wings/Predators game. She loves it! it broke my heart to tell her that there will be no hockey this year. I made it up to her in finding "first list" status for the NCAA "Frozen Four".

    I'm assuming that MEEECHIGAN will make it there.

    The only reason why I'm not really upset is because my team, the Red Wings, are an aging team. If there is one team, that could use the rest, it's the Red Wings.
     
  6. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Hopefully next season will be salvadged?
     
  7. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    at this point it looks doubtful. Even if they do comeback, the league needs a major overhaul. Contract about 12 teams. Change to international rules to promote scoring and keep fans interested again. Remove the clutching and grabbing and allow fighting to be delegated by the players again without the retarded instigator penalty.

    Hockey's problems go WAY beyond agreeing on terms moneywise.
     

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