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For the Love of the Game

NHL owners are at war with their own incompetence

Alan O'Sullivan
Dec 18th, 2012

Photo from Flickr/bridgetds

The comic absurdity of the NHL lockout has reached new heights. If you still have the stomach for it, consider the following line of argument as it bleeds on into the future. 

Throughout this entire process the owners have been attacking existing player salaries, contract lengths, negotiating rights, and representation — all of which, they say, are contributing to an unhealthy imbalance of league revenues. A correction is required; the players have too much power in this equation, it’s time to loosen the Associations grip.

NHL plays dangerous gambit with fans

Alan O'Sullivan
Nov 16th, 2012

Photo from Flickr/Garyisajoke

The cognitive dissonance of NHL labour negotiations has finally taken root.

But given that the leagues leadership group is operating out of GOP consultant Frank Luntz’s public relations playbook, perhaps it’s surprising that the tactic has taken this long to actually appear fully formed.

On Thursday night, by way of TSNs Darren Dreger, NHL Deputy Commisioner Bill Daly spooned out a dollop of napalm, and served it up as ice cream.

"We have made repeated moves in the Players' direction with absolutely no reciprocation," said Daly. 

"[U]nfortunately, we have determined we are involved with Union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement."

With Winter Classic cancellation, NHL proves to be own worst enemy

Alan O'Sullivan
Nov 3rd, 2012

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The cancellation of the Winter Classic tells us at least three things about the NHL lockout.

One, that the league really does have no interest in reaching a conciliatory agreement with the NHLPA. Two, it confirms the league is out to break the players, like water freezing out of cracks in concrete. And three, that the NHL simply doesn’t trust itself. 

On the first point, the leagues lack of interest in brokering a cooperative “shared sacrifice” type of agreement is underscored by their unwillingness to engage in 11th hour negotiations beforehand.

It’s really too straightforward to be ignored. The NHL has continually rejected NHLPA attempts to meet and negotiate, and whether those attempts were sincere or PR-motivated, the leagues’ non-attempts by contrast are telling.

Nothing to Fehr? Glimmers of hope despite NHL lockout setback

Alan O'Sullivan
Oct 19th, 2012

Photo from Flickr/xtopalopaquetl

In the end it all turned out exactly the way we feared: more posturing, no negotiating, and more lost games.

It took Gary Bettman and Bill Daly only ten minutes to consider and dismiss Donald Fehr’s three NHLPA counter-proposals yesterday—then they were out the door and slamming the players offers on their way past the media gathered outside.

“It’s clear we’re not even speaking the same language,” said Bettman of the NHLPA. “Thoroughly disappointing.”

Less than 24 hours later the NHL did the predictable, cancelling games scheduled through to November 1.

So much for getting the ball rolling on negotiation.  

But it’s not all bad news. If you’re an eternal optimist, there’s hope in the shadows.

With lockout, NHL is starving itself

Alan O'Sullivan
Oct 13th, 2012

Photo sourced from Flickr (GoodSquadSarah)

That the NHL takes its fans for granted—especially its Canadian fans—is no great revelation. This is, after all, a league which has trundled itself to the edge of the abyss on so many different occasions that questioning its sense of purpose has almost become a national past-time in Canada.

But with this season's lockout, they may not realize how close it is to falling into that abyss by biting the hand that feeds it: an engaged fan base.

Consider the ways in which the consumption of professional sport has changed since the last lockout eight years ago. The loss of hockey games is the core effect of this lockout, to be sure, but fan experience has exploded since the loss of the 2004–05 season, and there’s really no denying that the tap which has been shut off this time around is one which is quite a bit different from all other taps previously. 

Rick Rypien and the modern concussion epidemic

Nolan Kelly
Aug 17th, 2011

The tributes began pouring in yesterday morning from former teammates and opponents, confirming that recently deceased former Canuck Rick Rypien was respected throughout the NHL, in spite of his erratic behaviour and rumoured battles with depression.

Often referred to as the toughest pound-for-pound player in the NHL, Rypien quickly became a fan favourite in Vancouver. He began his career on a professional tryout contract in 2004 with the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks’ minor league affiliate. He was one of Moose GM Craig Heisinger’s many great finds: a diamond in the rough -- with a heavy emphasis on the rough.

Rypien got his first call up with the big club a year later, eventually spending parts of six seasons with the Canucks, registering 9 goals and 7 assists in 119 games.

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