Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr

Top 2012: The NHL’s inexcusable lockout


Reaching a new CBA was never going to be easy, but it shouldn’t have been this hard.

Here we are on Dec. 25 and there’s still no deal between the NHL and NHLPA. Officially the lockout is over 100 days old, and if the two sides can’t come together soon, the league will lose its second entire season in less than a decade.

It won’t be the only thing the NHL loses. Fans, respect, millions and millions of dollars — take your pick. For an industry that was enjoying record revenues, in a terrible economy no less, another lost season would be inexcusable.

Again, it was never going to be easy. The NHL’s problems are complicated. For all the parity on the ice, there’s very little off it. The owners want the players to help the league’s financially challenged franchises; the players want the owners to work it out between themselves. It’s a tough situation.

But it was made far tougher than necessary. From the NHL’s opening offer that it should have known would infuriate the players, to the union’s time-wasting forays into provincial labor boards, it’s impossible to justify the antagonistic tactics that both sides have employed repeatedly throughout this agonizing process.

Not to mention all the nauseating spin. The league using its low-ball offer as an artificial starting point and acting like it was making “concessions” every time it demanded slightly less from the players. The union’s constant reminders that the lockout was the owners’ choice and that the players would be delighted to play under the terms of the expired CBA while negotiating, as if that was ever going to happen in a million years.

None of that ridiculous rhetoric was intended to fool the other side. It was done to curry favor with the fans. And fans were rightly insulted by it.

For what it’s worth, we’re still optimistic there will be a season, if only because it would be so unfathomably foolish to let it slip away.

Then again, it’s been pretty unfathomably foolish already…

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?