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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Michael Peca - Jay Bouwmeester... Battle Stations!

From the Calgary Herald:

Let the record show the Calgary Flames clashed with the New York Islanders Wednesday night in pre-season action in Saskatoon, but the real fireworks in the last 24 hours came off the ice.

The whole drama erupted Tuesday night when TSN panelist Michael Peca said he used to look forward to playing against Jay Bouwmeester, because he coughed the puck up so much.

Strong words, to be sure. And it didn't die there.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a radio interview with Rob Kerr and Dean Molberg on the Fan 960, Flames president Ken King lashed out at the audacity of Peca, a former player, saying such things.

“I think it was out of line,” King said in an interview with The Fan 960. “It was a guy talking about his peer. His colleague. Someone who he has played with.....To diss and take such a low-brow approach to laughing at or ridiculing one of the premier defencemen in the league, I just think is completely inappropriate."...

“We're not going to let Jay Bouwmeester or any player on the league be talked about in that manner by a colleague or a peer without challenging it,” King said. “That's just inappropriate....

“I think he ridiculed him. I think he laughed at him....You bet I'm sticking up for and defending our guy.”
Sure King is gonna stick up for his guy, but what does that leave for Don Cherry?  He's a former coach.  He's never criticized anyone he ever coached against?

Here is the video from TSN of what Peca said. 

Essentially Peca said that Bouwmeester doesn't play tough, and is casual with the puck.  Not complimentary? Certainly not.  But is it "low-brow", disrespectful or the character assassination that King portrays it as?  No way.

Studio analysts receive criticism for being too soft on contemporaries, or if they are to vanilla.  Peca seemed to express an honest opinion on a career underachiever. Grab the torches and pitchforks!

Bouwmeester himself "shrugged off" Peca's comments on Wednesday.
"I don't care. If he wants to say that, that's fine. He's not playing anymore, so I don't care," Bouwmeester said Wednesday. "I'll probably have a different opinion of the guy that said it. Those guys on TV are what they are."
 Bouwmeester knows that the only way to silence his critics is to go out there and prove himself on the ice.  We applaud King for coming to his defense, but we didn't see Peca "laughing at" anyone.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Is It Always Bettman's Fault?

The refs missed a call that would have given your team a power play chance in the playoffs.  Blame Bettman.  You favorite sniper on your fantasy team just missed an open net.  Blame Bettman.  Your team is over the cap.  Dammit Bettman! 

...and so it goes for the embattled commissioner of the NHL.  Whenever a hockey fan sees something that they don't like, the fall guy is always that diminutive, ex-NBA lawyer, Gary. 

He's hockey's top exec. He supposedly hates Canada, looks out for only his U.S. based pals, ruined the league by insisting on putting teams in Miami, Atlanta and Nashville, makes up rules to punish the teams he doesn't like, and was/is willing to cheat every other team in the league to help Pittsburgh win the Cup every year.  There is also insider rumblings about how this little, evil-genius is planning to make all regular season games into 20 minute-long shoot-outs, with glowing pucks for Prime-time, American (East Coast only) TV audiences!

Take a look around the interwebs. You will find examples everywhere of all the horrible things that Commissioner Bettman has done, is doing, or is planning to do.

Bear in mind, most of this is all based on misinformation and speculation... but who cares? It's Bettman's fault for not being a former player, or Canadian, or something.

A prime example can be found courtesy of two very fine sources.  Abel to Yzerman via Kukla's Korner, "Well Gary?" Please, please, please don't get me wrong, I read these blogs on a regular basis because they are good stuff.  I point it out because I strongly disagree with taking the Commish to the wood shed every time someone gets injured.

The following except says it all:

Knee-on-knee, knee-to-thigh, forehead to lower back. Whatever the case may be, the Franzen/Orpik thing is being ignored by the league.  Professional sport’s most inept commissioner has opted to do nothing and the reason he’s made that choice is because it was a Pittsburgh Penguin who attempted to injure a Detroit Red Wing.
Is that the truth?  It makes no difference whether it is or not because perception is everything in the eyes of the fans.  And the fans are the people you continue to alienate Gary.  When’s the last time a knee-on-knee wasn’t at least addressed?  Why no statement?  Why not at least announce that no suspension is in order? Why not tell us that since no video of the incident occurs, an accurate assessment can’t be made?

Because Little Gary Bettman is running the show and I’m here to tell you that this show sucks and continues to get worse...
Why shouldn't a Red Wings fan be upset at the hit that endangered one of the team's biggest stars?  Especially after reading what  Franzen and Coach Mike Babcosk had to say about the collision after the game:

Orpik was given a five-minute major for kneeing Franzen.

"It's terrible," Franzen said. "Stupidest play I ever seen. He lifted his foot up and put his knee inside of my leg.... I just put the puck back down deep and was trying to go get it, and he threw his knee out." 

Orpik's actions did not sit well with Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, who stood up for Franzen and immediately pounded the Penguin. Bertuzzi picked up 17 minutes in penalties -- five for fighting, two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct. 

Franzen, 30, didn't skate today. He said he hoped to skate in the next day or two. 

Does Orpik deserve to be suspended? 

"Yeah," Franzen said. 

Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't happy about the hit. 

"I didn't think it was a very good hit," Babcock said. "I don't think they'd be happy if one of our guys did that to Sid (Crosby) or (Evgeni) Malkin. It's one of those things that in the league we like to look after each other's knees."
Yet, why isn't the Commissioner all over this?  Why isn't he investigating this and cracking down on knee-on-knee hits that threaten all players?  Maybe because it wasn't a knee-on-knee hit?  What a lot of media outlets have not focused on: Franzen's injury...
Franzen suffered a charley horse...
I'm not a doctor but... I am pretty sure that a charley horse is not a knee injury.  Therefore I am led to believe that Orpik's knee hit Franzen's thigh, not his knee.

Babcock also said this after the game:
"We think more of his thigh, but we'll get him checked out," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We hope he'd going to be fine."
Regardless of what you believe Brooks Orpik's intent to be, the League doesn't have a long history of suspending guys for knee on upper leg shots... nor should they.

Can Gary Bettmen catch a break here?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What the Devil? NHL Penalizes New Jersey

On Monday the NHL announced that the Kovachuk saga was over, but they were gonna tack on a little extra something to the New Jersey Devils' tab for their trouble.
The National Hockey League and the New Jersey Devils on Monday resolved the dispute over Ilya Kovalchuk's League-rejected 17-year, $102 million contract. The rejection of that contract was subsequently upheld by an independent arbitrator.

The Devils will sacrifice a first-round draft pick in one of the next four Entry Drafts as well as their third-round draft pick in 2011. The Devils will determine in which year between 2011 and 2014 they will surrender their first-round pick, and they are to advise the NHL the day after the Stanley Cup Final ends in that calendar year.

The NHL has also issued the Devils a fine of $3 million, but per the terms of the global settlement reached between the NHL and NHLPA earlier this month the Devils will not have to sacrifice any salary cap money.

As part of that global settlement, which set guidelines for contracts of five years or more, the NHL retained its right to impose penalties on the Devils for the ill-fated Kovalchuk contract. The League announced its rejection of the contract on the basis of circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, citing Article 26, on July 21.
Yes, it sets a guideline and a precedent for future deals.  Yes, the league possesses the authority to impose a penalty on New Jersey...

However, like most of the chapters in this story, this reeks of ex post-facto enforcement by the NHL.  Over the past couple of seasons, the NHL supposedly "investigated" long-term deals for Henrik Zetterbeg, Johan Franzen, Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo and Marian Hossa.  Although it was clear that the league did not like the structure of their deals, they did approve their contracts.

Then came Kovalchuks's contract.  The NHL rejected it.  An arbitrator upheld their rejection... and then suddenly the league was up for re-investigating many of the aforementioned contracts again.

The Devils accepted the ruling, re-worked another contract and it was approved, after a bit of negotiation.

Yet, buoyed by their recent CBA loophole victories the NHL added penalties to the Devils, despite the fact that they agreed to "grandfather in" the near-violation contracts of Luongo, Hossa and Pronger.

Evidently, the NHL was intent on making an example of New Jersey from the beginning.  Do we agree the league had to close the current CBA contract loophole?  Absolutely.  But... they really took out their frustrations on one perpetrator, while the others get off scot-free.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sidney Crosby Hits Home Run at PNC Park

The Penguins have many off-season pursuits.
PensTVonline covered the action as a few Penguins players took their turn at being a Pittsburgh Pirate.  Crosby took a few swings, and not only hit a home run, but hit it out of the ballpark!

If you were not sure that hockey players are the best athletes in pro sports, here is more evidence.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

NHL/NHLPA Move Closer To Clarifying Kovy (and others) Contract Parameters

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the league has "given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk, but Vanocuver's Roberto Luongo and Chicago's Marian Hossa, as well..."
A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players' Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo's 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa's 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions:
1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.
2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary. 

The league has given the PA, which is being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday at 5 pm to accept these conditions. If the PA refuses, or if negotiations fail to yield a common ground, the league has informed the PA that:

1. It will reject the Kovalchuk contract.
2. It will move to immediately devoid the Luongo contract.
3. It will move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

The NHL owns sweeping punitive powers against teams and players judged guilty of circumvention under Article 26 of the CBA.
Regardless of what happens in this situation, closing the cap loopholes is a process that has been long overdue.  The only thing that we disagree with in this whole drama is why did the league wait until the Devils pushed them to the brink before they took action?

This action by the league is a necessity to rid the cap rules of further ambiguity, but the re-opening of investigations that supposedly had already been investigated and ratified (Luongo, Hossa, etc...) is bound to leave a bad taste behind. 

With this recent development, our sources tell us that the $1 billion / 1,000 year Sidney Crosby extension is now on hold!