Saturday, September 29, 2012

Burning multiple bridges with Daryl Katz

“I was upset when certain confidential information was leaked and by comments that I thought were unfair and called my integrity into question.” 

“I reacted by trying to send a message to city leaders that they should not take my support for a new arena for granted. “In doing so, I took for granted your support and your love of the Oilers. 

 “That was wrong and I apologize.”

The main thrust of Daryl Katz's "apology" to the fans of Edmonton.

So, seemingly in a little temper tantrum, Daryl Katz headed off to Seattle, apparently for no other reason than to stomp his feet at the folks back in Edmonton.

A strategy that seems to have successfully resolved little, other than to make Katz look a tad more of a carpetbagger than a guy that built his empire in Edmonton. Pushing him into the self inflicted territory of the seven circles of hell that Peter Pocklington once explored during his reign as Oilers owner.

With word of his west coast visit splashed across the Edmonton papers and filling the airwaves of the always entertaining Edmonton radio wars, Katz suddenly it seems decided that some damage control was perhaps in order.

Thus we get the "apology" letter provided to the Edmonton Sun today, a screed to offer up a mea culpa with a dash of indignation directed at those he is currently in negotiations with to create the latest sports palace for the Great White North.

By his letter however, one wonders how the folks of Seattle might be feeling, if in fact they care at all.

In effect, Katz has told the residents of Western Washington State that he really has no intention of bringing hockey there, in effect using them as the battering ram in his negotiations with Edmonton, something we're pretty sure the more vocal of sports radio opinion in Seattle will make note of.

Not that Katz was destined to be a big player in Seattle anyways, at the moment the entire focus of the sports world there is the deliverance of an NBA franchise back to where it never should have left, hockey is but the side dish in the NBA buffet.

All of this is good news for Edmonton's hockey fans, Katz by burning a bridge in Seattle most likely won't be welcome there again, now he has to make sure his Edmonton bridge doesn't catch fire as well.

Hockey fans in Edmonton like others across North America, perhaps are just a little tired of being taken for granted by the owners and administration of the NHL.

In the Edmonton situation, one wonders if perhaps more than a few were giving thought as to where, for instance they might wish to have a prescription filled, the only recourse they might have had to vent their feelings on the mess created by Mr. Katz, who has other interests in the Alberta capital and across Canada.

For the moment, it's all hands on deck for damage control for the Katz collective, trying to smother out the flames of a PR disaster purely of their own making.

The fallout from the Katzgaffe road trip is as follows.

Edmonton Sun-- Secret Katz Group arena meet with Edmonton city administrators...
Edmonton Sun-- Wayne Gretzky 'not involved' with Oiliers, Daryl Katz
Edmonton Sun-- Daryl Katz tour of Seattle arena should spur Edmonton deal
Edmonton Sun-- Daly neutral on new Oilers arena deal
Edmonton Sun-- Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz denies Mayor Stephen Mandel's request..
Edmonton Sun-- Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Oilers owner Daryl Katz need to hammer...
Edmonton Sun-- Mayor Stephen Mandel calls on Oilers owner Daryl Katz to make demands public
Edmonton Sun-- Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz says downtown arena in jeopardy
Edmonton Journal-- Oilers owner Katz apologizes for Edmonton arena negotiation tactics
Edmonton Journal-- Katz Group fails to make case it needs sweeter arena deal
Edmonton Journal-- We hated Katz's threat, but it's good that he said it
Edmonton Journal-- Seattle feels Edmonton's arena pain
Edmonton Journal-- If we build it, would they stay
Edmonton Journal-- Will Katz group meet with council to discuss arena project?
Edmonton Journal-- Downtown Edmonton area deal can and should be made ...
Edmonton Journal-- Oilers' owner heads to Seattle for meetings after city approves arena deal
Globe and Mail-- Oilers' owner Daryl Katz apologies to fans for Seattle visit
CBC-- Daryl Katz apologizes to Edmonton fans
CBC-- Edmonton's mixed feelings on Katz apology

Monday, September 24, 2012

Right now, Gary Bettman is ALL hat, NO cattle!

Jimmy Devellano is going to be a little lighter in the wallet today, well OK, perhaps in reality it will be the Illitch's who will be a little lighter, having to dip into the Little Caesar's pizza tip jar to cover off  the $250,000 fine from Gary Bettman, who wasn't too thrilled with Devellano's latest contribution to management/union negotiations.

Devellano, the Senior Vice President of the Red Wings provided the helpful primer to Labour 101 NHL style over the weekend with his comparison to the players being but cattle on the ranch, allowed to come on up to the ranch house for a meal before heading back off to mend fences and such we guess.

His comments provided to the Victoria BC based Island Sports News (no doubt sending their website counter into overdrive over the weekend) provided for some wonderful turn of phrases that should help don't you think?

The Detroit News made sure that the talking points got a little wider distribution than the British Columiba based website, dedicated mostly to university and high school sports on Vancouver Island.

Among his helpful contributions:

"The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, me included, are the cattle," Devellano said. "The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there. That's the way it's always been and that's the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren't going to let a union push them around. It's not going to happen." 

And to help make sure the message was delivered he added:

 "Each owner/team has a decision as to how they want to pay their players, as long as they are under the cap. Now (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr would have you believe by getting rid of the cap, the owners would make more money and that the sky is the limit, but trust me ... the owners would lose their (behinds). We've tried that. It doesn't work. There is just too much cost involved in running and owning a team." 

Devellano seemingly was channelling his inner Leghorn Foghorn to the Island Sports News, effectively asking the players, "any of this getting through to you son"

It would seem that the Vice President is hearkening back to an era of labour negotiation from the days of Jack Adams, perhaps a golden age in the eyes of Devellano.

Kind of instructive as to the mindset of these negotiations at the moment, if such a term can be used for two sides that seemingly stare at the answering machine and dodge each others calls.

For the moment however, to rephrase Mr. Devellano if we may, with the dispersal of the NHL's cattle to the distant farms in Europe and beyond, the Commissioner it would seem is "ALL hat and NO cattle".

The Full Devellano can be found below.

Detroit Free Press-- NHL fines Red Wings for comments calling players 'cattle'
Detroit News-- Red Wings fined over comments by Jimmy Devellano
National Post-- NHL doing itself no favours in battle of Public Opinion
Globe and Mail-- Cattle crossing offers Gary Bettman a timely diversion from NHL lockout
Toronto Star-- Red Wings fined for exec's unauthorized comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Packing Parachutes with the NHLPA

One aspect of an NHL labour dispute which perhaps doesn't actually resonate with the fans at home is the concept of players actually on a picket line.

Already we have seen some strange things in this dispute, the league teams which are of the opinion that the current CBA doesn't work, were in a Mad Max rush to sign up their stars and even some lesser names to long term contracts under the old and seemingly "broken" system.

Then, with the lockout on the final countdown, players were dispatched to the minor league outposts, which we imagine makes must see TV this year destined to come from such locales as Oklahoma City, Peoria, Abbotsford and St. John's to name a few.

Over at the NHLPA offices, the first order of business it seems is to find a good travel agent able to find a quick and affordable travel voucher to the Old World.

Unlike your average worker, the lumber yard hand, paper mill worker or the folks toiling in a mine for instance, the NHLPA's options provide for some European travel, the prospect of time away from the NHL to be spent in the KHL, the Swiss League or any other European host, all no doubt eager to add some star power to the usual migration of former US or Canadian college or junior players, still seeking to carry on their hockey lives for a few more years.

While the "stars" live the lives of the Griswold's of European Vacation fame, the very real fact is that by their arrival to sit in for a while, any number of migrant workers of hockey may soon be without a job.

Which somehow you might think goes against some kind of union protocol somewhere.

. Clark Griswold and the family, for all their  travelling faults, never cost anyone a job when they made their European jaunt. A situation that the stars of the game may very well create, and one which could have been avoided.

Considering the rather large salaries that we are talking about in this dispute, surely with just a wee bit of previous financial planning all of the NHL's A List, could have handled a little bit of idle time while the two sides supposedly work towards a deal.

As well, by their quick and apparent eager quest to find alternative work in Prague, Bern, Mocow et al, the collective stand seems a wee bit diminished back here on the front lines of the labour wars.

Without the likes of the big names to provide for the face of the dispute, the picket lines if such a thing should ever come to pass in a hockey dispute, will seemingly be left to the third and fourth line players who couldn't it seems grab a share of the Euro money being bounced around.

And while they have every right to pursue their occupation wherever they wish, the optics of the current airlift to Europe isn't a particularly great one for the NHLPA or for its membership.

Making your stand, while taking away the livelihood of those that didn't quite make the bar of the NHL isn't exactly the best way to push forward your talking points on fairness and all of that...

USA Today-- Locked-out NHL players continue European exodus
TSN-- Locked Out NHL PLayers looking to Europe for Opportunities
SF Gate-- NHL player's exodus to Europe begins
Winnipeg Free Press--- Frustration builds in NHL Lockout as more players head to Europe
Montreal Gazette-- Locked out NHL players eye work in Europe
Sports Illustrated-- NHL Lockout: Players heading for Europe, KHL
Ottawa Sun-- NHL players rush for jobs in Europe during lockout
Toronto Star-- Will Sidney Crosby sign with a European team? Time will tell, his agent says
New York Times-- As NHL Lockout Begins, So Does a Likely Exodus of Players to Europe

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Lock Out: Thirty Shades of Fall Out

As the NHL, the NHLPA and those forgotten folks, the fans settle in for the first phase of the fourth NHL labour disruption in hockey history, we check in around the league's member cities, to see how the whole situation is playing out where the team's are based.

There is of course, no shortage of opinion around the league as to what led to this latest disruption and what if anything can be done to make it short, bringing hockey back to to town as soon as possible.

We'll begin our tour above the 49th parallel, seeking out the commentary of the league's seven Canadian members, before heading south for the view from the 23 American locations where the NHL calls home.



Americans and Bettman have stolen Canada's game
NHL Lockout: What happens now?
"It sucks for business" near Montreal's Bell Centre


Senators let NHL do the talking on lockout's first day
Another lockout could bit Bettman on the behind
Lockout hits home for new Senators defenceman Marc Methot
Sens' staffers hit hardest by NHL lockout
Ottawa area prospects head to AHL as NHL lockout looms


The most unnecessary lockout of them all
Players launch public relations offensive
NHL gets lockout message across to fans
Bars and stores lose in NHL lockout
Maple Leafs assign 22 players to Marlies, won't lay off staff
Day 1 begins with no end in sight
No hockey a windfall for networks


Don't shed tears for locked out Jets
Don't worry, Jets fans: True North paying back ticket holders for lockout
True North presents options to Jets season-ticket holders
And so it begins, hockey fans
Jets ship 13 men to AHL IceCaps
Jets will fly together


Calgary Flames faithful gird for season without hockey after NHL lockout
Lockout could influence Iginla's future with Flames
Last lockout took big toll on Flames
Eerie silence surrounds Dome as lockout takes effect
Lessons of the past ignored as players lament work stoppage
As lockout looms, Flames' Edwards a key figure for the NHL


NHL lockout 'hard to swallow': Dubnyk
Oilers RNH looking forward to OKC
Oilers assign 26 to OKC
NHL, players union begin PR battle as several Oilers move down to AHL
NHL, NHLPA send messages to fans
NHL players need to quit the guerrilla warfare...


Time to turn off the hype and  hypocrisy
Bettman's mess smells like the last one
No hockey: NHL officially locks out its players as CBA expires
NHL, NHLPA reach out to fans, but not each other on first day of lockout
Hockey Night not in Canada


New York

Backward-thinking NHL shoots itself in skate
Owners' avarice steers league to lockout
No progress as first day of NHL lockout comes, goes
NY Rangers may have to make power play to prevent another lost NHL season
NHLPA message: 'This is an NHL Owners Lockout'
NHL message: New CBA is attainable through focused negotiation - not through rhetoric'
As N.H.L. Lockout Begins, So Does a Likely Exodus of Players to Europe
No Deal in N.H.L. Dispute as Lockout Deadline Passes

Long Island

Officials: NHL Lockout could cost LI economy $60 million in revenue
NHL locks out players at 12:01: a. m. Sunday
Isles assign players to Bridgeport, junior teams

New Jersey

NHL locks out its players as labor pact expires
Answers to the burning questions surround NHL's dispute with its players
Devils assign Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, 22 others to Albany (AHL)


As lockout starts, it's no business as usual
And so it begins - lockout puts NHL season on ice
Sabres loan Foligno, 19 others to Rochester
Money issues, again, threaten NHL season


Fans now in wait mode
No progress as Day 1 of NHL lockout comes, goes
Shutdown defense stops NHL's momentum
NHL Players signing to play in Europe following start of lockout


Penguins' Morrow rips Bettman
Pens' employees safe from layoffs... for now
Without labor peace, some Penguins look for work
Pens' Crosby all in line with NHLPA
Penguins have no layoff plans despite lockout
Recent lockouts in pro leagues offer a window into the business of sports
NHL Lockout won't curtail workouts for Penguins


NHL stalemate is an insult to the fans
Locked-out NHL players eye Europe
In NHL's cold war, Russia gets MVP
NHL officially locks out its players
Most fans blame NHL owners
Timonen: "Afraid it might take a while"
Fedotenko signs in KHL


NHL lockout leaves fans in the cold
NHL owners trying to turn back the clock
Lockout starts, end is uncertain
A lockout could be avoided - if both sides are willing to get a deal done
NHL lockout 2012: Players contemplate their next move
Without new deal, NHL locks out players


In midst of lockout, NHL sends out contingency plans
For lockout veterans, not deja vu but disbelief
In midst of NHL lockout is eeire silence


NHL lockout might slow Florida Panthers' surge
NHL reaches out to fans
Locked Out: Florida Panthers, Champion Kings with Most to Lose?
Sunday No Funday: NHL Locks out Players for Third Time since 1994

Tampa Bay

NHL locks out its players
As sides dig in, hockey is about to freeze
Stamkos weighing his lockout options
Bolts' frustrations grow as NHL lockout looms
Tampa Bay Lightning players weigh options for lockout
Tampa Bay Lightning fans protest as NHL Lockout arrives
Labor histories of four major North American pro sports
NHL lockout Q & A

St. Louis

Bettman betraying loyal hockey fans
Bettman's lockout will give you the Deja Blues
Blues, NHL release statements regarding lockout
NHL contract expires, Lockout starts


NHL lockout shows no sign of quick fix
Lockout leaves Nashville Predators on ice
It's no surprise: Money at heart of NHL labor troubles
Predators show little need for NHL's latest lockout with last minute deals


NHL lockout: It's time to vent
With no talks set, lockout could last
NHL seeks to mitigate damage as lockout begins ...
NHL Players digging in, but owners have upper hand
Detroit bars, sports fans worry about impact of NHL lockout
Red Wings veterans know the lockout drill
Answering the NHL lockout's biggest questions
Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg makes plans for lockout
Wings' Pavel Datsyuk will make decision soon on playing in Russia


NHL lockout: In hockey fight, players are right
Blackhawks hold informal practice
NHL lockout might send players overseas; fan fest postponed
NHL Lockout would cause future shock for Blackhawks youngsters
NHL players hold informal workout in Chicago
Blackhawks detail plans for season-ticket holders
Blackhawks postpone fan festival
NHL owners lock out players
NHL fans want hockey, not Bettman's promise
The No Hockey League - again


First day of lockout yields no progress
Blue Jackets must wait for redemption
Negotiations at a standstill as lockout begins
Agreement seems long way off
Bettman speaks from owners' hip pocket


Latest lockout testing the limits of common sense
No progress as Day 1 of lockout comes, goes
NHL Lockout looms, putting league on thin ice
Thoughts on the coming NHL lockout


The NHL goes dark once again
NHL CBA expires, lockout begins
It's official: NHL players are locked out
NHL and Wild issue message to their fans
How the lockout affects the Wild
Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau likes NHL union chief Donald Fehr
Minnesota Wild 'support league's position' in locking out NHL players
Minnesota Wild to pay fans 10 percent interest on lost season tickets
Fans should walk when NHL comes back


NHL Lockout here, hopes fade
NHL lockout hurts fledgling NBC Sports Network

San Jose

San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture close to signing with Swiss team
All quiet on NHL lockout front
Issues and no answers
NHL locks out players
As NHL lockout looms, stakeholders brace for the worst
Douglas Murray on NHL lockout "I understand it's tough to understand as a fan"
Latest salvo in lockout PR battle


Cold War: Stars' season is on ice as NHL locks out its players
Stars owner Tom Gaglardi writes letter to Stars fans
So how much do legacies of Don Fehr and Gary Bettman figure into NHL negotiations?
Stars and Kari Lehtonen are a great match
What you need to know about the lockout
NHL locks out players as sides hold no talks

Los Angeles

Plenty of action on first day of NHL lockout but no labour negotiations
National Hockey League locks out players amid labor deal rift
Commissioner Gary Bettman says owners unanimous in support of lockout
NHL good at getting labor negotiations wrong
Stone Cold Lockout
NHL's lockout message to fans


NHL lockout leaves young players puzzled
Latest work stoppage begins in NHL
Ducks gather, but future looks dim
NHL lockout would affect more than players, owners

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The battle for hearts and minds commences

The first salvo in the Public Relations battle for the hearts and minds of hockey fans would seem to be coming from the NHLPA, the players association posted the following video to YouTube on Sunday, talking points from the players point of view that set the tone for their point of view.
The most intriguing point from the players side, reminding fans that the system "that was supposedly broken, was created by the owners".

Wham, bam, now there's an exclamation point to your discussion paper!

No rebuttal yet from the NHL, then again that may be a wise strategy considering the public image that Mr. Bettman seems to enjoy among hockey fans these days.

Somehow we don't see any fireside chats in our future from the NHL head office.

Mr. Bettman brings out the padlocks...

It has not gone without notice here at the HockeyNation that we've not posted an item on hockey since June 11th, the last real day of celebration of a sport we all enjoy.

It was that date that the NHL handed off Lord Stanley's Mug to the LA Kings, in celebration of hockey excellence in 2011-12, a chance no doubt to build the brand in Southern California and provide hope for such troubled franchises as Phoenix and Florida to name a few.

A chance that has perhaps been lost once again, now that yet another labour disruption has intruded into that glow.

With rumblings of  labour discontent (or at least ownership desires for a larger share of the generated revenues) on the horizon, we sat back and listened to the drum beats of war such as they are in the NHL.

A prospect of no hockey come September, left us less than interested in such things as the draft, the free agency and all of that, our thoughts being as the younger generation these days would say, meh, let us know if there is something to watch on the ice.

And as summer begins to morph into fall it would seem there won't be any hockey in the short term at least.

The NHL allowed the CBA to expire on midnight of Saturday night, setting up the fourth labour disruption in the league's history, the third of the reign of Gary Bettman.

Very much a case of millionaires fighting millionaires, the battle such as it will be seemingly to move the percentage points a few positions towards the owners side of the business ledger.

What appears to be lost on both sides of this dispute is the fact that in a world economy that struggles for the folks that actually follow the sport, it's very much a case of rich guys fighting it out over how to get richer, frankly we just don't relate.

Most fans probably don't understand the NHL's business plan or structure, a strange little strategy that places franchises in locations that don't seem to much like hockey (as empty seats will testify), leaving behind cities (many in Canada we note) where the game not only resonates and is part of the fabric of the community, but are locations that would support a team and a league with full rinks and bountiful revenues.

On the players side, fans perhaps wonder about a labour base that makes millions of dollars to play a game, already well compensated, many might wonder just what those players might do for a living had they not through hard work, sacrifice of their parents and of course their own talent made their way through the building blocks of hockey from minor to the pro.

No one begrudges them their success, but at some point the zeros on the salary negotiations become dizzying and rather unrealistic to the average fan.

In an economic era of high unemployment  and fears that a recession is but a few unfortunate twists away from a depression,  the idea that the average fan might have sympathy for either side seems laughable.

Most probably struggle to put together the monthly payments for real issues, the electricity, the gas, tuition for their kids, health payments and other necessities of life, perhaps wondering about the wisdom of even the monthly cable or satellite subscription that lets them sit back and watch hockey come the fall.

The idea of season tickets more likely a dream that just isn't in the budget, with even the chance to attend the odd game perhaps but the thing of wishful thinking.

So, whenever the two sides get back together again to see if there is common ground, maybe factor in the idea that you both are alienating the very folks that give your game any relevance, let alone monetary value.

Saturday's deadline and lock out is actually a false start, the real lock out would start with the first game of the regular season in October, that's when the reality of it all will come home, until then it's just more and more of the same old positioning we were treated to through July and August, a tiresome dance that really holds little of interest to most.

Add onto that the rather hypocritical events of the last few weeks, where GM's and owners that are complaining so much about the current  terms of the CBA have been rushing to sign up their key players heading into the lockout, signing them to contract terms of the CBA they apparently despise so much.

It's enough to think perhaps Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr need to spend some time with Dr. Phil, to better understand the inconsistencies of it all.

From time to time we may check back in to see if anything has developed, to that end we recommend subscribing to the HockeyNation email alert program atop our page right, any updates to our blog will be delivered to your email address for your reading enjoyment.

For how long the terms of labour contracts will replace shifts on the ice remains to be seen.

Many observers are suggesting that the idea of a full season off the ice is unlikely, instead they suggest we may see some hockey by November, just in time for the HBO 24/7 previews that have led into the Winter Classic game of New Years Day.

Maybe yes, maybe no, at the moment now there's no hockey camps set to open, yet another season for hockey fans to ponder if the game as we have known it over the last few years isn't just a little bit broken.

The owners and the players have the opening words in this latest dispute, the fans both in franchise cities and at home can have the final ones, while in the end hockey fans will no doubt return to the game when it makes it back to the rink.

There's nothing to say that we can't take our time doing it, leaving a few nights of empty rinks and tepid ratings as a reminder that hockey exists only because of its fans, something that both sides seem to forget most of the time.

Below we offer up some points of note from the lockout day, a helpful synopsis of where we are and how we got there.

However, we do suggest that this Roy MacGregor's Globe and Mail column is definitely worth a read or two, maybe three. In fact we suggest that both the NHL owners and players pass it around, it nicely sums up how hockey fans should perceive all this madness.

Globe and Mail-- With players officially locked out, where does NHL go from here?
Globe and Mail-- Timeline of NHL labour negotiations
Globe and Mail-- Put the chicken wings back in the freezer, businesses brace for lockout
Globe and Mail-- Reasons the lockout will be short and why the season may be in jeopardy
Globe and Mail-- Hypocrisy or cynicism? NHL races to sign players before midnight lockout
National Post-- The NHL lockout has officially arrived
National Post-- NHL lockout a stalemate seven years in the making
National Post-- What the #!%*?: Explaining the NHL lockout
National Post-- NHL players begin hunt for other hockey options in wake of lockout
National Post-- Mark your calendar: The NHL lockout starts Saturday night
National Post-- NHL lockout surrounded by flurry of roster moves
Toronto Sun-- NHL lockout deadline passes
Toronto Sun-- 3 Strikes on Bettman
Toronto Sun-- Sidney Crosby and NHLPA's Donald Fehr go back a ways
Toronto Sun-- Bill Daly and Steve Fehr keep lines of communications open
Toronto Sun-- Little sympathy for NHL owners
Toronto Sun-- Odds in favour of long NHL lockout
Toronto Sun-- Bettman cries poor while NHL teams go on spending spree
Toronto Star-- NHL lockout: Day 1 begins with no end in sight
Toronto Star-- NHL, NHLPA relationship 50 shades of Nasty
Toronto Star-- New Leaf owners Rogers, Bell get painful introduction
Toronto Star-- Sticky issues, possible solutions to hockey impasse -- Sides tay away from bargaining table as NHL enters another lockout Commissioner Bettman shows emotion in defending NHL stance: no deal, no season Gridlock and it's getting personal NHL fans been down this road before