Fighting Is Integral To Hockey?

Fighting is “integral to the way the game is played,” according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman,

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“nobody has a divine right” to a second franchise in the Toronto market.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

“We’re not going to encourage or allow teams to play games,” Bettman said.

You know, credibility is a hard thing to earn, and even harder to maintain. These three comments by the Commissioner are ludicrous. Let’s look at them one by one:

To say fighting is an integral part of hockey is, in my opinion nuts especially given his previous stances on the matter. I want to be there when the first player dies in a hockey fight and the they call the count up to the stand, as the league is being sued and he tries to say out outraged he is and appalled at the actions of the player who threw the killer punch when the defense attorney gets up and asks him to read this direct quote. Let me make this clear. I am not anti-fighting. I don’t think it should be banned. However this “integral part of the game” stuff is nuts. Skating, passing, body contact- all are integral. How is something that is punishable integral? If you can get kicked out of a game for doing it, how do you define it as an integral part? From my perspective, fighting is a necessary evil(again, I like watching the odd tussle, don’t get wrong). The threat of getting your butt kicked in a fight keeps people honest. There is a difference between a good fight and a dumb one. The majority I have seen this year (not scene) have been the dumb kind, but that more a product of whom the Leafs “tough” guy is….. Call a spade a spade. I think calling fighting integral to hockey is insulting.

The second line is a direct shot at RIM head hauncho Jim Balsille. Again, ENOUGH already. This is just getting plain old stupid. You have a very wealthy owner who wants into the club. For the most part (present charges excluded) he isn’t a crook. Or at least he hasn’t been charged with a crime in which incarceration is the penalty. Compared to the other clowns that Bettman’s crack due diligence team has allowed into the club this guy is a saint. He has cash, he loves the game, oh and he heads a tech company that could change the way fans interact with the players/game. Having the head of a major tech company like RIM own a team would be a great thing. Look at the Caps and all that they do because their owner is deeply involved in technology. Give it up, already. Find a way for this guy to get a team. As for the Toronto part, why would you want a 2nd team in a market that can support it? That would be stupid! I mean why not have more teams in markets where $17 tickets (complete with gas cards, parking and food) aren’t enough to fill the building? Time to get progressive and move on.

The last one is the best. We aren’t allowing people to play games??? Oh, you mean like current owners who are part of your executive team loaning money to other owners so in fact they are principal owners of more then one team at a time? Those aren’t the games you are playing?? Allowing teams to spend the absolute minimum so they can steal money from other teams via revenue sharing, those games? Allowing owners to personally buy tickets to guarantee their teams hit those minimums? Papering the house isn’t a game right Count Bettman?

These comments are insulting. Try speaking the truth next time, you will get much higher approval ratings…

NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman

An Article Worth Reading

With the escrow payments ballooning and the players losing (not loosing) all of the money being withheld, and the league suspending players for not being in Montreal Larry Brooks should be in rare form tomorrow. The anti-Bettman column could reach new pinnacles. In the interim, David Shoalts has an excellent column on the questions The Count should be expecting when he meets his bosses in Montreal this am. Here are a few good ones:

“Will you ever be prepared to admit your plan to spread hockey into non-traditional markets is not working?

Aren’t you already telling people you will sell them the Coyotes for nothing as long as they assume the liabilities? So why not admit the inevitable and put the Coyotes into bankruptcy protection so you can break the arena lease and sell them for real money?

Besides, don’t you think resistance to Jim Balsillie and the possibility of two franchises in Toronto is shrinking?

Will single-game playoff ticket sales this spring be the first measure of the drop in revenues next season?”

Oh to be a mole in the room today….

Read Shoalts here

Don’t Cry For Me….

I hear what Damien and his pals are trying to sell this morning. I mean the outrage, the horror…While firms like Microsoft, Ford, GM and others are laying off thousands of people, people across North America are losing (not loosing) their homes to foreclosure we should all march on the streets here in and New York to support our NHL players. Good luck with that. This is not the time for the NHLPA to try and win a PR war over the fact that the players are, for the first time ever going to share in the pain with the rest of us. That is why the officials at the PA aren’t talking. That’s why they extended their deal. The smart ones at the top know what is winnable and what isn’t.

The media however are dying for a scandal to write about. Newspapers across North America are laying off entire department, ceasing to print on certain days and sports departments are no longer covering hockey. Yet here in Toronto, our fellas keep digging (shoveling in this case) as their colleagues are losing (not loosing) their jobs, but take pity on the NHL players. Do you think the folks who gut shuttered at WDFN this week are worried about the fact that Zach Paraise is going to see his escrow deduction almost double to $300,000 and not recover a penny of it? I am willing to bet that $300k is more then more then a couple of the folks let go were earning combined.

So, it is interesting to read things like this, which tells us the amount the player is going to result as a loss of the increased and forefitted escrow payment (the first number) as compared to their annual salary (the second number):

“-$1,732,500 Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins

Salary: $9 million

-$91,437 John Mitchell Toronto Maple Leafs

Salary: $475,000

-$1,347,500 Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks

Salary: $7 million

-$673,750 Jeff Finger Toronto Maple Leafs

Salary: $3.5 million

It’s fine to say things like :

“One of the reasons the union wants the escrow to jump immediately is that the players’ association itself is liable for any shortfall at the end of the season. If that were to climb into tens of millions of dollars, it could bankrupt the union. More than ever, players will now understand their financial well-being depends on the economic health of the league after years of drawing ever-increasing salaries regardless of TV contracts or whether arenas were full or not. Players may now be less supportive of efforts to prop up money-losing franchises, or at least motivated to have franchises moved to more profitable markets. Kelly yesterday called for the league to give the association more input on TV deals, international competition, expansion and franchise relocation.”

As the players should inject themselves into where their cash is going (to prop up hopeless teams (financially)).

When players say things like this:

“”That’s news to me,” said a surprised Parise, scheduled to earn $2.5 million this season. “I hope you’ve got a bad scoop there.” Sorry, Zach, no bad scoop. In fact, despite the best efforts of Kelly, NHLPA director of player affairs Glenn Healy and other senior union executives, it’s clear many NHLers will be caught totally off-guard by what essentially amounts to an enormous pay cut.”

It just goes to show you the ignorance of some of these guys. I don’t mean to pick on Parise. You spoke to Cox not I. A much better answer would have been “no comment”. You see Zach, the economic world is crumbling around you. The players of the NHL are not immune from it. Many of your fans are facing the daunting issue of how to pay for school, clothes and the next meal. Perhaps, maybe, just maybe you should open your eyes, and pay attention to the details inside that small document your union agreed to, so you know the rules of the game, and how the outside economic factors are going to effect you. The reality is no fan is going to cry for the money you lose (not loose). This isn’t your fault by the Zach, your a product of an environment where you are shielded from these types of issues. Me thinks it’s time you start asking the right questions.

Could The Maple Leafs Acquire Chris Pronger?

“Will Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke be reunited with Ducks D Chris Pronger? That’s the whisper this weekend. There’s a strong belief that if the Ducks fall out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, GM Bob Murray might move the former all-star defenceman. While the Leafs are trying to rebuild, it might make sense to bring in a seasoned blueliner like Pronger, especially if Tomas Kaberle is sent packing at the March 4 trade deadline.”

Let the debate begin folks. Bruce Garrioch has that gem in today’s Ottawa Sun. To me, it’s a move that makes litle sense especially given what we can imagine what it would take to get Pronger. Would you trade this year’s first to get him? Not I. He is 35 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Pronger. Just not on the Maple Leafs right now…. Boy would Burke get roasted for trading away the future for a 35 year old(albeit a very good one)

Quotes of the Day

“Check the accompanying sidebar, which combines the won-lost percentages for the current season of the 15 cities with both NHL and NBA teams. Yep, there is Team Tanenbaum, right down there in 15th place.” Dave Perkins…
“To be getting dressed in the Canadiens room is something I always wanted to see,” he said in French.” Vincent Lecavalier
“When I walked through those doors and saw the hundreds of people there for autographs and waiting for the players arrive — my hair was all over the place, and I really didn’t expect to have it,” he said Friday. “I don’t think anybody expected to have a welcome like that.” Vincent Lecavalier
“”For someone being born here, to play here, obviously people add a little bit of pressure,” said Lecavalier. “But I think a good pressure.” Vincent Lecavalier

Sure sounds like Vinny has Montreal on the mind, and no it doesn’t sound like it’s not his kind of town….

“Bettman and his bosses used a hammer to try to fix something that wasn’t necessarily broken in the first place — and what was really broken, they couldn’t acknowledge, let alone fix.” Stephen Brunt on the NHLPA declining to re-open the CBA

“The problem was — and the problem is — there is a wider disparity in NHL markets than in any other sport when it comes to how much people actually care about the product. Hockey is front of mind everywhere in Canada and in a handful of U.S. cities (now, for the first time in years, including Boston and Chicago). There people will pay large amounts of money for a seat, and produce big television audiences that are attractive to advertisers. it didn’t do a thing for the Phoenix Coyotes or Atlanta Thrashers or Nashville Predators or Florida Panthers. If anything, those clubs are in worse shape now than they were before the lockout, their decline accelerated by the credit crunch and ensuing recession, coupled with shaky ownership. If they’re still in business come 2011 — and who would like to bet their life on that right now? — the next labour war won’t cure what’s wrong with them, either.” Stephen Brunt

“Each and every player, NHL Players Association boss Paul Kelly said today, should expect a 13.5 per cent pay cut this season because of declining league revenues. The cut takes the form of escrow payments, monies withheld from players to make sure the union collectively does not make more than its share of the money the league takes in. the league’s revenue growth has dropped to about two per cent from 12 per cent a year ago..”The players aren’t happy about it,” said Kelly. “But they understand it.” Kelly admitted that in this case, the escrow will have the effect of being a salary rollback the same as that the players were forced to accept after the 2004-05 lockout.” Damien Cox-

Who would have guessed that the PA would elect to extend the deal that all the majority of pundits called a loser (not looser) for the players. Perhaps, just perhaps the players have gotten a tad bit smarter this time around….

The best quote of the day however was from PA slappy Glen Healy on the NHL suspension of those players who aren’t in Montreal for the All Star festivities:

” ”

Somewhere, Healy must be a caged dog. Just wait till he gets a few pops in him on St. Catherine tonight… Kelly may have the duct tape on his mouth for now…it won’t last, and when it ends, get ready for quotes like you can’t believe.

Sports Radio Tonight- Good Stuff

I am interested in hearing McCown’s take on the All-Star Suspension Gate….

On the roundtable:

John Wells,
James Deacon
Richard Griffin

Meanwhile, on 640:

Bob McKenzie 440
Tomas Kaberle 510
Ken Daniels 540
Darren Dreger 610

The Kaberle interview should be as interesting as paint drying…What’s the guy going to say?

Ken Daniels is a Toronto boy who does play by play for the Red Wings. He is fantastic and I am sure he will be very vocal on the all star suspensions.

More on the suspension

I am on my blackberry, so posting isnt fun. Anyways, huge kudos to whomever get glen healey on first….he should be in rare form on this Kyperos too!