Ryan Lambert

  • Like
  • Follow
Author
  • What We Learned: Exactly how mad are NHL fans about this lockout?

    APHello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

    Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean posed a real interesting question on Twitter the other day.

    "Is it just Twitter, or is there more anger all the way around this time about this lockout than last lockout?" he wondered.

    [Related: Winter Classic expected to be canceled on Thursday, according to report]

    That seems like it's something worth exploring. This is, after all, the second lockout in recent memory for the NHL, and the first to take place under the new internet reign of Social Media. Obviously the NFL and NBA went through their own lockouts of varying brevity last year, but the vitriol about them that swirled online was nothing compared to what's constantly being hurled at both the NHL and NHLPA.

    The NFL, to its credit, was smart enough to get its issues worked out before anyone missed a single game, and the NBA put a torch to the first month or so of the season.

    For comparison, people were mad last time the NHL was locked out, to be sure; but if I recall correctly, everyone was more or less just kind of depressed about it. It sucked that there was no hockey, but everyone kind of accepted that the previous CBA simply wasn't working for anyone. Losing the whole season wasn't ideal, but it was on some level inevitable.

    This time, everyone more or less sees that the League and players alike are both doing well; and that, as a consequence, this is a largely avoidable and pointless ego-driven shoving match, and not a work stoppage that carries with it any necessity.

    So yes, people are mad. Very mad.

    But Twitter makes it seem worse than it probably is.

    [Nick Cotsonika: Longtime NHL coach Paul Maurice
    starts all over again as 45-year-old rookie in Russia
    ]

    (Coming Up: Dan Boyle hates the lockout; Long Island Railroad preps for Brooklyn; Jagr puts fannies in seats; Nikolai Khabibulin's loophole; Tyler Seguin coming back to Boston; Dan Ellis rules the AHL; abuse of KHL officials; Damian Brunner gets the hell beat out of him; Jack Johnson calls out owners; and a trade to get Jeff Skinner to the Leafs.)

    Read More »from What We Learned: Exactly how mad are NHL fans about this lockout?
  • Getty ImagesTrending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?

    It's a common refrain these days that because the two sides at war in this labor dispute seem to have come to a bit of an understanding, even as both move farther away from détente that something radical must happen.

    [The Vent: Lockout fallout leads to 'casual fan' status downgrade]

    Gary Bettman, for example, is digging in his heels about the necessity for the players' association to come over to the NHL's way of thinking, with apparent take-it-or-pretty-much-leave-it offers having been made and rejected. Some wiggle room on the "make-whole" provisions for current contracts is all he's willing to grant the NHLPA, and people think that — combined with those other two lockouts over which he's presided, and the smug pain in the ass he's regularly characterized as being — is enough for him to get the door.

    Don Fehr has likewise been intractable, but for different reasons. He's far less inflexible when it comes to negotiating points, but at the same time, his heels are just as dug-in as Bettman's when it comes to resolve to get the very best deal for the side they represent.

    But all this desire from both to be simultaneous irresistible forces and immovable objects obviously results in the NHL's deadline for actually-canceling actual games, and not just dates, having come and gone. Fehr called it artificial because he and the players' union are of the belief that you can squeeze 82 games into a neater, littler package than what the NHL is putting out.

    I'm not sure that's true, logistically, but he's sticking by it.

    All this waiting for someone to do something has understandably made hockey fans a little anxious, and while "Fire Bettman," has been a common cry around literally every hockey publication's website on Earth since The Internet became A Thing, we're starting to see more people lash out at Fehr as well.

    [Also: Why did KHL pull out of Brooklyn games?]

    I said back when he was first hired that I imagined his appointment to the top of the NHLPA would result in a work stoppage, and indeed that has come to pass, but probably few would have predicted he'd wind up being the slightly more reasonable one.

    Nonetheless, there have been more than a few "Fire Fehr" calls in the last few days as well, and they're getting louder.

    Read More »from Firing Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr won’t solve a thing (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Why canceling NHL games could give us the best season ever

    Getty ImagesHello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

    We can all agree that there's no way the lockout ends in time for Gary Bettman's fictional 82-game full season, right?

    They'd have to agree to the new CBA, like, as I'm writing this, for the Nov. 2 cutoff date to be met; and even then, it might be a stretch.

    I know the League canceled the dates — not the games, an important distinction — through Nov. 1 on Friday. There are also rumors that when the next batch of cancellations comes, it could be larger than the two preceding it. At this point, I think I'm starting to be fine with that, because I came to the realization that a season shortened by 24 games could make for the best one ever.

    I decided the other day that what I'd really like to see — and I know it'll never ever happen for a bunch of reasons — is for the NHL to go to a 58-game schedule, just this once. In it, each team could play every other team in the league twice, once at home, and once on the road. In a league that loves reminding everyone about its competitive balance, what better schedule could exist than that?

    It solves a lot of problems about competitive balance as well. No longer would the Canucks, for example, get to beat up on Edmonton, Calgary, Minnesota and Colorado a combined 24 games a season as a means of padding their Presidents Trophy credentials while teams in the Central play their way through a 24-date divisional meat grinder.

    This way, all 30 teams' playing field for making the playoffs and racking up wins over the course of a season becomes as level as it can possibly be.

    (Coming Up: More Alex Ovechkin threats; Pascal Dupuis is fiscally responsible; Nik Kronwall, next captain of the Red Wings?; Predators talk lockout with fans; Don Cherry high on Habs; Islanders to Staten Island; Rich Clune picks the wrong fight; getting Scott Gomez to the Flames; goalie issues for the Blue Jackets and Flyers; and a beautiful goal from the NCAA.)

    Read More »from What We Learned: Why canceling NHL games could give us the best season ever
  • APTrending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?

    "[We're] going to get a deal done" - Gary Bettman to some dude, October 18, 2012, approximately 2:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    "We were done in an hour today because there was really nothing there." - Gary Bettman to reporters, October 18, 2012, 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    Funny, that.

    Why, it's almost like the NHL had no intention whatsoever of accepting whatever offer the NHL Players' Association put forward yesterday, and that everything it has done to this point has come as part of bad-faith negotiations disguised as platitudes about how much the fans matter and how important it is for them to get a deal done.

    [Nick Cotsonika: Enough with the grudges and greed, get down to business and solve the CBA]

    OK, maybe I shouldn't go that far. Getting a deal done is clearly on the League's to-do list, but getting one that in any way serves to protect even the slightest interest of the players (i.e. The Product) is something in which Bettman and the five or six guys driving this Cold War have no interest whatever. Period.

    Let's put it this way: Both sides have likely always targeted a 50-50 endgame. How they eventually get there is the real issue, and some of the ancillary stuff — like what revenues they're going to be splitting right down the middle (but not really, wink-wink) and how players are able to actually earn money under that system — is very much up for debate.

    So it should have come as no surprise to anyone on the entire planet that the League just happened that extend a 50-50 offer on Tuesday that was couched in a lot of the language uncovered by Deadspin's report on its B.S. focus groupery about 16 hours earlier.

    Shared sacrifice, indeed.

    Read More »from Why NHL’s bad faith negotiating damages CBA talk progress (Trending Topics)
  • Getty ImagesHello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

    It seems like only yesterday we were sitting through interminable, impromptu press conferences about how no progress had been made in negotiations and that therefore this latest NHL lockout was growing more imminent by the minute.

    Now, a month later, we are lucky enough to be sitting through interminable, impromptu press conferences about how no progress had been made in negotiations and that therefore this latest NHL lockout will stretch on in perpetuity.

    [Also: Is it just a matter of time before World Cup of Hockey makes a comeback?]

    Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are still meeting regularly with Don and Steve Fehr, talking about the dumbest crap imaginable because neither wants to acknowledge that they're both being absurdly implacable with their demands when it comes to those fabled Core Economic Issues. Ice quality isn't a thing the heads of what is actually a fairly power players' union should be talking about with the league's top two executives on Day 20-, 30-, or soon 40-something of this kind of thing.

    Dispatches from Bob McKenzie and, more recently, Elliotte Friedman that show just how tense these negotiations are getting, and therefore how much longer they're likely to last. They're apparently growing more disconcerting by the day.

    (Meanwhile, outside the walls of expensive boardrooms, more or less everyone else has been seized by apathy.)

    The NHL says it's lost something like $250 million or so by canceling these games, and, as Friedman points out, this is likely all still happening because of that whole league's "the fans are so stupid they'll keep coming back" narrative.

    The widely acknowledged truth is that this assertion is almost certainly true — despite the million polls running on Canadian media sites that say about half of fans really for-sure cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die mean it this time when they say won't — and that the second they unlock the doors to 30 arenas around the country, fans will pour into them, howling. But nonetheless, if the league is already turning out its pockets, it doesn't exactly portend a happy outcome here.

    [More: Kings scouts who were 9/11 victims get moment with Stanley Cup]

    Owners say the 50 percent growth seen in the last seven years is unsustainable and I believe them (unless something really stupid like expansion happens in the next few years) but if missing one month of the season is a loss of $250 million, four months is a loss of a billion, and the NHL season typically lasts about eight or even nine months. I don't know what kind of financial scare-numbers the league was spitting out last time it put fans through a lockout. But given the surge in revenues, and what they're already saying they've lost, I wonder if the owners really willing to douse $2.25 billion (based on their math) in gasoline and light it on fire? Remember, they only paid $1.88 billion to players last year.

    There's going to come a point at which the league will likely lose more money than it can hope to make up through whatever givebacks it gets from the players. That's just simple math. And the PA knows that.

    (Coming Up: Mike Babcock lobbies for Olympic gig; Teemu isn't thinking retirement; the French Connection gets a statue; the fat guy at Predators games is sad about the lockout; DC mayor asks for lockout's end; Jordan Staal's house greater-than-sign Eric Staal's house; Ryan O'Reilly, still unsigned; the Stanley Cup goes to Iowa; Brayden Schenn scores a beauty; Ondrej Pavelec finally, finally wins; and a way for the Red Wings to acquire Nail Yakupov.)

    Read More »from What We Learned: NHL lockout is 1 month old, and Don Fehr doesn’t have to care

Pagination

(835 Stories)