Tag: NHL Labor Issues

Crosby and Giroux

Report: Penguins-Flyers likely to highlight Jan. 19 opening day


One of the NHL’s fiercest rivalries could kick off the 2012-13 season.

That’s the word out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening as Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review reports the NHL is targeting a Jan. 19 start date, with a game between the Flyers and Penguins — in Philadelphia — as one of the marquee games of the day.

According to Rossi’s sources, rivalry contests will highlight the opening day/night schedule, setting the tone for a 48-game regular season in which teams will reportedly play divisional opponents seven times and other conference foes twice.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

Philadelphia‘s Wells Fargo Center is booked for Penn State men‘s hockey in the evening, but the Flyers are tentatively scheduled to face the Calgary Flames at 1 p.m.

A 48-game schedule will preserve most of the previously booked arena dates, but matchups will change because clubs will play only in-conference opponents.

The Penguins-Flyers rivalry was arguably the league’s fiercest a year ago, culminating with an epic opening-round playoff series in which Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh in six games. The teams combined for 56 goals, 309 penalty minutes and three separate suspensions totaling six games.

The series also put the Claude Giroux-Sidney Crosby rivalry on a new plateau. The pair spent the offseason exchanging barbs, with Giroux accusing Crosby of injuring his wrists and Crosby saying he didn’t recall doing it — but that if he did, he wasn’t sorry about it.

Note: Before we all go getting ahead of ourselves with this report, some perspective — NHL schedule makers have contingency plans for a number of scenarios, so it’s unfair to suggest this indicated a new CBA has been reached.

Rossi also notes that “several sources” say the plans are subject to change.

Was canceling the Winter Classic what CBA negotiations needed?

2013 Winter Classic

For some, the cancelation of the 2013 Winter Classic was the worst moment of the lockout.

But could it also be the most important?

Friday’s scrapping of the NHL’s annual outdoor game was met with doom and gloom. The Winter Classic is, after all, the league’s signature regular season event and a television ratings bonanza.

Canceling an event of this nature was significant. In addition to the public relations nightmare and lost viewership, an estimated economic impact of $30-$35 million fell by the wayside.

So too did the Hockeytown Winter Festival and, at the risk of getting all schmaltzy on you, the joy and excitement of the 80,000-90,000 people that had already purchased tickets.

The impact of the cancelation resonated with players. Red Wings defenseman Ian White, who was set to participate in the Winter Classic, said as much to the Windsor Star:

“If [Gary Bettman’s] willing to cancel that, I don’t know why he’d want to play a season after that, because that’s the highlight of the year,” he explained. “So if he’s willing to throw away that game, then the balance of the season, I would think, is definitely on the line.”

Bettman’s reputation precedes him in these instances. This is the third lockout of his 19-year tenure as NHL commissioner, and he remains the only commissioner in North American pro sports to lose an entire season to a work stoppage.

Fear that scrapping the Winter Classic would lead to a canceled season might’ve been very real for players. Perhaps that’s why, during Thursday’s conference call, NHLPA members expressed they wanted their leadership to do more negotiating.

Something else to consider…

We’ve seen past instances where labor negotiations were kickstarted by a significant event — a recent example came during the NFL-NFLRA lockout, which started in June and lasted nearly four full months, with replacement officials working all four weeks of the preseason and 48 regular season games.

Despite both sides appearing entrenched in their respective positions and far from a deal, the work stoppage was solved in 48 hours after a highly publicized incident during Seattle’s 14-12 victory over Green Bay on Monday Night Football.

A controversial, game-deciding touchdown call by a replacement official was roundly criticized — on-air, ESPN color commentator Jon Gruden called it “tragic and comical” — and within days, the regular officiating crews were back working games.

Now back to hockey.

On Friday, the Winter Classic was canceled.

Within 48 hours, the following happened:

— News leaked of the NHL making concessions to its “Make Whole” policy.

— NHL commissioner Bill Daly met with NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr for a lengthy discussion that “covered a lot of ground.”

— Reports surfaced that the NHL and NHLPA were set to resume meetings this week.

All of which begs the question: Did the lockout just have its Golden Tate moment?

Red Wings confirm — if there’s no Winter Classic, there’s no Hockeytown Winter Festival

2013 Winter Classic

It turns out the NHL lockout won’t just affect the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

There’ll be some collateral damage as well.

According to a report from Crain’s Detroit Business, the cancelation of the Winter Classic also means the cancellation of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, a weeklong celebration of hockey at Comerica Park featuring games at the junior, collegiate and American League levels.

“The 2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival events will only take place if the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game is played,” Wings Senior Director of Communications John Hahn told Crain’s via email.

Released in June, the schedule for the Winter Festival stretches over two weeks and is filled with events:

DEC. 15-26: Celebration of Hockey featuring amateur games, corporate outings and open skates.

DEC. 27-31: Outdoor Festival featuring interactive games, autograph signings, face painting and ice sculpture exhibits as well as musical performances and entertainment.

DEC. 27-28: Great Lakes Invitational featuring the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Western Michigan Broncos and Michigan Tech Huskies (competing for the 2012 MacInnes Cup.)

DEC. 29: Ontario Hockey League doubleheader featuring the Windsor Spitfires vs. Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers vs. London Knights.

DEC. 30: American Hockey League Game featuring the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliates of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.

DEC. 31: Red Wings-Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown.

With the NHL canceling all November games on Friday, there are rumblings the Winter Classic could be axed as early as next week.

Detroit’s Cleary says odds of work stoppage are “50-50”

Dan Cleary

With just weeks until the expiration of the current CBA, Dan Cleary delivered a harsh reality on the possibility of a lockout.

“I would say it’s 50-50,” Cleary told the Detroit News. “We’ll see. I was optimistic when we gave them our offer, but the league didn’t respond to it [favorably].

“The game has never been better. The parity is obvious, there are probably 18 teams who have a chance to win [the Stanley Cup]. Revenues are growing. Everyone would like to see the season started on time.”

Cleary, 33, isn’t on the NHLPA’s Negotiating Committee — Henrik Zetterberg is Detroit’s rep — but he has been active in meetings and labor talks thus far.

“It’s important to have veteran presence there, and to represent Detroit,” he told USA Today. “It’s not too far to go, either; the meetings are usually either in New York or Toronto.”

If anybody knows the harsh realities of what a lockout can cause, it’s Cleary. The 13th overall pick in 1997, Cleary struggled to find his niche in Chicago, Edmonton and Phoenix and after the 2004-05 season was lost, he found himself without a team, forced to make the Wings on a training camp tryout before signing a one-year deal.

NHLPA rep Adams: Bettman says CBA “needs to be closer” to NFL, NBA model

craig adams

There’s a significant gap between the NHL and NHLPA in labor negotiations — and one union member knows what that gap entails.

Pittsburgh’s Craig Adams, one of the 31 players on the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, says commissioner Gary Bettman wants a collective bargaining agreement similar to football and basketball, especially with regards to revenue sharing.

“From the owners’ perspective I don’t know how they view those other CBAs,” Adams told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I know Gary has mentioned to the press that he looks at those two, and the NHL needs to be closer.”

More, from Rob Rossi of the Trib:

The NHL is believed to crave a revenue split similar to those inked by the NFL and NBA players in the last 12 months.

NFL players are guaranteed only 47 percent of revenues on the 10-year CBA reached last summer. NBA players received a 50-50 split of basketball income on its 10-year CBA that was agreed upon after a work stoppage that wiped 16 games from the last regular season.

“Certainly for the league it behooves them to look at the players’ share in football and basketball and say, ‘We want to be closer to what they’ve done in those sports,’” Adams said.

If the NHL is to go the way of the NFL and NBA, an elongated labor dispute could be on the horizon.

In terms of work stoppages, the NBA delayed starting the 2011-12 season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25, reducing the regular season from 82 to 66 games.

The NFL didn’t miss any regular season action, but all offseason activity was halted from Mar.11-Jul. 25. There was no free agency or training camp.