While the practice has received its fair share of mixed reviews, the NHL’s tradition of kicking off its regular season by playing several games in Europe provides fans and players with a unique experience. Chris Johnston reports that the unsettled CBA situation prompted the NHL to nix the “Premiere Games” for 2012, though.
To date, there have been no formal bargaining talks between the league and NHL Players’ Association.
However, the sides have discussed the status of the premiere games for next season.
The league was willing to schedule them, but an agreement couldn’t be reach with the NHLPA over how cancellation costs would be handled in the event of a work stoppage, according to two sources.
It’s logical for the NHL to play it safe and avoid confusion regarding games that simply might not happen if the CBA talks stall. Still, it certainly calls Gary Bettman’s “business as usual” comments into question since – most literally – this is a break from the way the league has been doing business the last few years.
It’s not time to lay flowers on the 2012-13 season’s grave just yet, but it does speak to the concern that the NHLPA and NHL have some work to do.
Players can look on the bright side, though: if the season goes off without a hitch, they’ll save a little wear and tear from travel.
The NHL has made it an annual event to start the season in Europe the past five years as part of the NHL Premiere Series, but next season may see things change.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the Premiere Series may be put on hold next season thanks to, you guessed it, the oncoming labor battle this summer.
The uncertainty over whether the 2012-13 season will begin on time given the Sept. 15 expiration date of the CBA has at least for the time being prevented scheduling of the games, with the parties as yet unable to agree on the parameters regarding revenue allocations and risk should the matches be canceled.
Unfortunately this is all part of the business and if the labor negotiations get in the way sacrifices have to be made. The NHL likes doing the games in Europe, but if things aren’t figured out in time something has to go. At least if the Premiere Series winds up on hold though, some teams will be without an excuse for why their season started out slowly.
The Sabres are off to a good start thanks to playing great on the road going 5-1-0 (two games in Europe) but at home, they’ve been anything but good. The Sabres are 1-3-0 on home ice in the First Niagara Center and as they’ve got four of their next five on home ice including tonight’s tilt with Philly, now would be a good time to get things right on home ice.
As Bill Hoppe of the Niagara Gazette points out, the Sabres started last season out awful at home as well before flipping the switch and becoming a beastly home team. As Hoppe hears from coach Lindy Ruff, getting too cute and fancy for the home fans might be part of the problem.
“We’re making plays that we didn’t make in the first three or four games, we’re trying plays,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think that comes with success that you think, ‘Ahh, we’re pretty good, maybe we can be a little bit better, maybe we can try a little bit of this, a little bit of that.’ And a little bit of that turns into something in your own goal.”
The Sabres have plenty of talent as it is, trying to do too much in a defensively intense league like the NHL will get you killed. Doing it against a team like the Flyers tonight will get you run out of the building. We’re guessing that Ruff will be taking everyone to journalism school to teach them a lesson if they don’t figure things out. The old K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method will get a work out.
Letting down the rabid fans in Buffalo will only take you so far, just ask every Bills quarterback since Jim Kelly.