Posts Tagged ‘NHLPA’


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The move made yesterday by the NHL, NHLPA and You Can Play Project is ground breaking in professional sports. For those that don’t know, the You Can Play Project has been around for little over a year now and promotes support and education of LGBT  issues in sports. The project’s message is simple; If you can play, you can play.

 

Personally I’ve been a fan and a supporter of the cause since I first heard about it on Twitter about a year ago. To me it doesn’t matter what anyone’s orientation or sexual preference is. As far as I’m concerned, they will be treated like any other team mate and performances will not be judged on the premise of their sexual orientation.

 

The project took a massive step forwards today when it announced official partnership with the NHL and the NHLPA, making it the first of its kind in any professional sports and its players. In fact, since inception, NHL players and other sports teams have been supportive of the cause, which is evident of the project’s video testimonial page.

 

You Can Play Project was set up by Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and son of Brian Burke, to honour his brother Brendan Burke. Brendan, a student manager for the Miami University Redhawks hockey team announced he was gay in 2009 and had worked to eradicate homophobia in hockey. Brendan was tragically killed in a car accident in 2010.

 

“Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.” Said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in an official press release from NHL.com

 

The partnership between the organisations will include significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans. You Can Play Project will also conduct seminars at the NHL’s rookie symposium to educate prospects on LGBT issues. Additionally, You Can Play resources and personnel is available to each individual NHL team as desired.

 

The NHL and the NHLPA in turn will work with You Can Play Project to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program, which allows players to confidentially seek counselling or simply as questions regarding matters of sexual orientation.

 

“NHL players have supported the You Can Play Project since its inception, which we are pleased to formalize and expand upon with today’s announcement,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “The players believe our partnership with the NHL and You Can Play will foster an inclusive hockey environment from the grassroots level to the professional ranks.”

 

Where the You Can Play Project has been hugely popular, it did encounter a bump in the road in July last year when Cam Jansen made disparaging comments about homosexuals during a radio show. However, the issue was handled candidly and Jansen has since been in constant contact with Burke and the You Can Play team, according to a story on NHL.com.

 

One can only hope that You Can Play Project will be seeking to extend its partnerships outside of hockey and strike up similar partnerships with other professional sports organisations not only in the US and Canada, but across the globe. As said, If you can play, you can play.

113 Days – NHL Lockout over

Posted: January 6, 2013 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports
Tags: , ,

This morning the NHL an nhlpa have reached a tentative agreement on the CBA, bringing the NHL lockout to an end. There’s still paperwork to be signed.

The sides agreed on salary cap at $63.4million and player contract lengths of 7 and 8 years respectively. The CBA is 10yrs in length with opt out at 8 years, so that will give you an idea of when to next go through this silliness.

So ends 113 days of stupid and the NHL now has a mammoth task ahead of itself of not only dropping the puck, but to deploy a PR and marketing campaign that would fix the damage to the brand.

Word is, first games will be played on 19th Jan and season is going to last 48 games.

Te CBA needs to be ratified by players and owners alike.


The NHL Lockout talks took a turn for the better yesterday it would seem. Many of the sources following the meetings closely tweeted saying they received texts from players involved in the talks have said that it was the best and most productive day during this whole debacle.

The NHL has entered into crunch time during the lockout. Both sides have admitted that they are fast approaching the point of no return in saving the season and the idea of having the players talk to owners has seemed to have turned the corner. At least based on yesterdays’ meetings there has been an air of cautious optimism about the end of the NHL Lockout.

I missed parts of the happenings as I was on the ice with my team, but I half expected that by the time I got home, I would check my twitter feed and other sources to find that the meetings had concluded after an hour and that the season would most likely be cancelled. Imagine my surprise to find out that the meeting was still on-going and that they had breakout sessions of smaller groups.

With the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting taking place today, there is as good of a chance as ever for both sides to table an offer and discuss it in-depth. Jason Brough of NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk has reported that the players intend to present the owners when the two sides reconvene after the BOG meetings. There has also been rumours on the social media front that Gary Bettman has already put together a schedule for a 60-game regular season. I don’t know whether that schedule has been drawn up prior to these meetings or as a result, but it certainly seems that the closer the threat of cancelling the season comes, the harder the two sides are trying to find common ground. Despite these rumours and the potential presentation from the players, Nick Kypreos has tweeted to say that “important to note with so many optimistic, no new written proposals have been shared yet.”

However, throughout this long-drawn, farcical process the fans’ hopes have been brought up again and again, only to be crushed. However, this time there seems to be a common consensus among people that there is some real progress. The only thing that we are now nervously anticipating is the conclusion of the BOG meeting and wait for news whether or not someone will torpedo the progress from yesterday. As Samuel Savolainen, NHL correspondent for Urheilulehti said in his column, the BOG meeting is the place where someone can add fuel to the flames and if that happens, I think we can pretty much kiss the season goodbye.

Should there not be an NHL-season, it would do irreparable damage to the NHL’s brand, not only in the USA – where a year-long lockout  would most likely render hockey a redundant sport – but worldwide as well.

At the end of the day, whether a deal is reached today or in the coming weeks, the only thing even the most disgruntled fan will care about when the deal is made and when the puck is dropped. Despite the lockout and the whole CBA process has probably changed my view on the NHL forever, I’m still anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of these talks. Maybe I wont follow with the intensity as I have but, I guess time will tell.

Whatever happens, this chapter will enter the NHL history books as probably one of its darkest moments, not only because it is the third lockout, but – as mentioned above – the farcical nature of the negotiations at stages throughout this process


This post is based only on rumors that have been circulating on the Internet of late. As the NHL and the NHLPA keep talking for the second consecutive day in an undisclosed location, the rumor is that the two parties could be closer to an agreement than at any point during this conflict. Though none of this information has been verified as yet, due to the tight media blackout imposed by the two parties, it is worth treating the information with a pinch of salt (rightly so).

The rumour has it that the NHL and the NHLPA have come to an agreement on the “Make Whole” (honouring existing contracts) and a 50-50 revenue split. Supposedly today’s talks will be around the Restricted free agent-, free agent status and contract term lengths.  There is rumblings that a deal could be announced as soon as Friday, or Sunday, depending on the source and a league (supposedly 72 games) could start as soon as 1st of December.

As said, these rumors have NOT been confirmed yet and should be treated as rumors and taken with a pinch of salt. However, this is the first real progress that we have heard in over a month since the NHL first tabled its 50-50 offer.

 

Edit @ 20:38 GMT: According to a story at NBC Sports’ ProHockeyTalk, the NHLPA tabled two offers to the NHL. One offer on the revenue split and one on the “Make Whole” provision. According to the story, the NHLPA is expecting the NHL to respond to these offers in today’s meetings. It looks like it could be a pretty interesting, albeit long night of news and information of the lockout

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As the NHL lockout has progressed to the point where the full 82-game regular season is going to be axed and the two parties have seemingly reached a stalemate where the NHL won’t entertain other offers, or negotiations, unless they are based on the 50-50 offer it made last week. We’ve heard how the NHLPA made three different proposals, but they were dismissed in 10 minutes. The mind boggles how it is so difficult to resolve this issue.

 

Let’s face it no-one winning in this situation. Not the NHL, the owners, players, other team staff, fans or arena staff. Or wait… on second thought there might be one winner here and it’s the KHL as Russian NHL stars are coming out saying that they will stay in the KHL if the owners won’t honour existing contracts by rolling salaries back. If there is no new CBA signed today, the players will have lost 14.8% of their salary within 4 weeks of games cancelled, whereas if they had agreed to the NHL proposal they would have lost 12% of their salaries over a full season.

 

However, perhaps one of the biggest losers of the lockout is the Los Angeles Kings (and in the greater picture the west coast of NHL). When the Kings went on their incredible run on the way to the Stanley Cup, it raised the profile of hockey tremendously in the area and no doubt in West coast. Yes I know that Anaheim won the cup as the first California/West coast USA based team, but what harmed the potential PR out of Anaheim’s win was that within half an hour after Scott Neidermeyer and co had hoisted the cup, Paris Hilton went to prison to serve her DUI charges , which stole the Ducks’ thunder.

 

The Kings, however, had everything going their way throughout the playoffs. Witty Twitter commentary throughout the playoffs, great marketing around the finals and best of all a packed out arena. OK there were a few mishaps, when the local news station thought the Kings were a basketball team, but the way it was handled by the Kings media team was exemplary in the way it was turned into a positive. Again another tongue in the cheek media stunt pulled off.

 

There was a huge buzz about the Stanley Cup finals in Los Angeles. It was palpable through a TV Screen and through out-of-town media outlets. The Kings’ profile was lifted in Europe as well. They had Anze Kopitar the only player from his native Slovenia to reach the NHL (so far) as well as getting loads of media attention from European media outlets. See the Kings are a team that you rarely don’t see on the TV here in Europe, or have that much written about them in the mainstream media, that is unless you are a diehard Kings fan an you go out of your way to find the feeds and stories so you can follow your team.

 

The Stanley Cup did a lot to the Kings’ profile and the lockout has undoubtedly put serious dents in the great work the team has done in the local area. The finals put hockey on the map in Los Angeles and now with the lockout dragging on, many of the newer fans to the team and the sport might forget all about the existence of the team again.

 

With international stars like David Beckham in the audience for most games and other celebrities getting into the game (of hockey), the lockout is really doing its best to mess up Los Angeles’ chances to truly grow the sport/team to truly be one of the top sports teams in the area (out of Lakers, Dodgers and Clippers. Note I haven’t included NFL here as the closest team to LA is in Oakland).

 

So with all that could have been done for hockey in Los Angeles, the Kings are probably one of the teams that will suffer the most out of the lockout. While the lockout may have caused some issues in terms of PR and marketing for the Kings organisation, I doubt the diehard fans will not have deserted the team. However, will we see some of the people who started to get into hockey during the playoffs cone be back? I’d say it all depends on the duration of the lockout. The longer it goes on the more the newer generation of fans will forget.

 

As said, this lockout is ridiculous, as the parties seem reluctant to actually get a deal done. Both say it is of utmost importance to get the season started, but there seems to be little, if any, urgency to actually get things under way. The longer the lockout goes on, the more it hurts the fans, the behind-the-scenes staff at teams, the league. The next blow to the NHL will be when they have to cancel the Winter Classic, 24/7 and the All star game, but on the positive, they only have to look in the mirror to find the culprit. 


Having read several articles about the NHL and the players over the last few days, there seems to be a consensus among players that there will be a lockout this season. It wouldn’t really be a surprise given that talks between the NHL and the NHLPA were cancelled yesterday for undisclosed reason, suggesting that the two parties are still miles apart on reaching an agreement.

 

Many players who have been interviewed have said that they will see what the decision is and that they will make their decisions after it has been confirmed whether there is no NHL come October. Few players, including Henrik Zetterberg and the Sedin twins have said to Swedish Aftonbladet that they would remain in North America in case of a lockout and would carry on with conditioning there as opposed to seeking playing opportunities in Europe.

 

Interestingly, the Swedish Elitserien came out today to say that it would not alter its contract rules in case of an NHL lockout. Per league rules all contracts must cover the entire season and no short-term contracts are allowed. This would mean that any prospective NHLers looking to play in Sweden would need to play in the Elitserien for the entire season. In case the lockout lasts only a couple of months, it is unlikely that the league will see some of its home-grown players returning to their native until the NHL season starts. However, if the potential lockout would cover the whole season, then Swedish NHL players, and other NHLers for that matter would probably look to sign in the Elitserien. 


The NHL season is scheduled to kick off on the 11th of October, but it is in serious jeopardy due to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expiring and the parties are, according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, far apart from each other.

Since the playoffs, many journalists, insiders and players have speculated that the earliest they can see the season starting is December and it is looking like the October start time for the league is some way off.

Given that the previous lock-out saw an entire season cancelled, it sent a lot of players to Europe to play and looks like a lot of teams are making plans to get players to return to Europe, should the lockout take place.

HC Davos in Switzerland has already announced that it has agreed that San Jose Sharks centre man Joe Thornton and new New York Ranger Rick Nash would ice for the team. Both played in Davos for the whole year during the last lockout.

Frolunda in Sweden has, according to a couple of tweets, tabbed up Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Loui Erikkson of the Dallas Stars to play for the team should the lockout take place. All the players are products of the Frolunda system.

The Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne, apparently has said that he would “not rule out playing for Jokerit.” Selanne who turned 42 this summer, signed a years’ extension with the Ducks in what he has hinted would be his last season in the NHL. For the other NHL  Finns, there haven’t been any firm news of player movements, but sports outlet Veikkaaja polled 15 Finnish NHL players (poll was done anonymously) and only one said that he would play in the Finnish SM-Liiga.

From my perspective, where it would be great to see NHL players playing Europe, I would rather see a full season of NHL hockey. Should the lockout take place, it would be the third lockout during my lifetime, which cannot be good advertisement to the way the league and the sport operates.

I sincerely hope that the owners, the NHL and the NHLPA can reach an agreement so that we have a full 82 game season.


There’s been one thing that has been bugging me for a while and it started brewing again in the aftermath of the Penguins v Islanders fight fest. I’m not going to wade in on the fight and my final thoughts on it are that I agree 100% with what Don Cherry said during Coaches Corner on Saturday.

However, there is an example in the aftermath that I would like to use and that is the suspension of Trevor Gillies. Whether his suspension was too harsh or too light, I’m not going to comment on that, but the fact that he lost $30k+ as a result of the suspension. $30k is a lot to a player who is not earning the millions that many other players in the game are raking in and it leads me to a broader question of: How will the regular, blue-collar, players survive after their careers are over?

Where people who are iconic in the sport have their futures secured by the money they bring in from their contracts, sponsorship agreements and so on, the blue-collar players have an entirely different prospects for life after hockey. For an elite athlete, retirement is a tough place to begin with, as for years the body has fed off the adrenaline, a certain routine and friendships formed in the locker room and all of a sudden all of that is replaced with, well, normal everyday life.

Then there is the uncertainty of what do you do for money. Yes the salary and savings/pensions will keep you going for a while but not long enough to live the end of your days playing golf from earnings in hockey, unless you’ve struck lucky and played in the KHL for a ridiculously large sum of money. If you haven’t really made it out to be an icon like Yzerman, Lemieux, Gretzky, Shanahan and so on, chances are that your days in hockey are over. Finished. Gone. The only way majority of the players will be able to stay in touch with the game is by coaching junior hockey or watch games and let’s face it, neither is really a bread winner. Or then there’s the option that you become a pundit, if you’ve got the face for it. But again, it all depends on how likeable the player was during his career.

As professional players, NHL or other levels of professionals have spent their lives honing their skills and many have only a high-school diploma to their name. I know in America, a high-school diploma will get you a job, but many would prefer college education. So what are the options for a 30-something-year-old  retiree (Unless you’re a freak of nature like Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne or Martin Brodeur)?

Many players choose further education after their playing careers or enjoy the spleandours of family life before looking for another job. Hockey, specially at the top level is so time consuming, players spend majority of the time away from home, so there’s the luxury of spending time with the kids and so on. However, there is a trend of players getting divorces after their careers have wrapped up. Soon after the skates have been hung and the family adjusts to the new routines, they can become overbearing to some and couples realise that the dynamics of the relationship are something they are unable to deal with.

Many have retired players are enjoying success in their post hockey lives, but the fact of the matter is that after a blue-collar hockey players’ career is over, there is a greater risk that he falls on nothing. As I said, their whole lives have been dedicated to the game and its the only thing they’ll know. The NHLPA and many clubs have programmes in place to ensure that their players are well off after their careers are over, though things have improved greatly since the days of Grodie Howe, but for some reason I have a niggling feeling that there could be more that could be done.

Here’s an example. I had a conversation years ago, just after Jari Kurri had reitred from hockey. Where everyone knew Jari was well off financially, there was one thing from that conversation that has stuck with me to this day. I was told that if Kurri didn’t have the money he had made from playing and investments he would have been in serious trouble. Apparently Kurri’s knowledge of every day life and things that average joe’s like me take for granted, was silch, but if you spoke to him about hockey, he knew everything there was to know. I would imagine that every pro hockey player is similar from the hockey point of view, but I have often pondered, how well adjusted, or detached in a lack of a better word, are the players from the toils of the life their fans lead, because effectively that is what the greater majority of players are facing after retirement. Don’t take it as a stab against Kurri in anyway. I grew up with his triumphs as my inspiration and he is one of the reasons why I started playing.

Of course this is not to say that the blue-collar players would be bad off, in fact there are a few of them who are well respected and earn a decent wage by plying their trade, for instance New York Rangers’ tough guy Derek Boogard. It’s not often that an enforcer surpasses the $1mil mark in salary.

Back in the 90s the Finnish SM-Liiga, the professional league, was full of players who had day jobs in order to ensure a comfortable income, though the most popular ‘profession’ was that of a student. There were only a hand full that were able to make a full living out of hockey. To a degree that is still true at the second highest level in Mestis. Reading the Finnish Jaakiekko Lehti (Hockey magazine), where the magazine carries a regular feature of past stars and where they are now. Many have found jobs in car sales, real-estate, technology and so on, but a staggering few work in hockey. The SM-liiga has a programme in place where it ensures that players receive proper qualifications after their professional sports careers end. Think of it like a high-school guidance councelor, except for hockey players.

Many top level athletes have fallen on empty after their sports careers were done. Outside of hockey I can think of Matti Nykanen, the ski jumper. Nykanen had a stellar, albeit short, career in ski jumping but after his career he was floating around. Despite Nykanen being a household name in the Finnish media, he has been mentioned more because of drunken antics, domestic abuse, his strip tease days and ‘singing’ career. Even Esa Tikkanen got his fair share of media attention after his career finished and he indulged in drinking. Same could be said of Kevin Stevens who was found in a hotel with a hooker and crack, though it has to be said it was during his playing career. Stevens is one of those fortunate enough to have had a successful career and now works as a scout.

I’m sure the same is applicable in football and other sports and as much as we would like it, our bodies deteriorate over time and aren’t able to keep up with the relentless requirements of sports, specially at the professional level. It is up to the leagues and national programmes to ensure that players do not fall on empty after retiring, regardless of their stature and reputation within the league.