Ryan Lambert

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  • Trending Topics: I can’t believe what a disaster Glendale is

    Trending 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?

    If you've been reading What We Learned every Monday here on Puck Daddy pretty much since the lockout began, you've probably noticed that the Phoenix entry each week has more or less served as a chronicle of the city of Glendale's woeful fiscal irresponsibility.

    Let's take the time, right off the bat, to remind you how broke Glendale actually is: very broke. Like, crazily broke for a city of its size. The city's outgoing mayor, Elaine Scruggs, left the guy who's taking over from her with a deficit— and I can't even believe this is a real number — of $1.2 billion. With a frickin' B.

    And that's not including the $16 million a year on average over the next two decades the city council just voted to give Greg Jamison and the Phoenix -- I mean Arizona -- Coyotes. (Scruggs, to be fair, voted against the deal, along with one councilwoman, though that was a reversal of her previous position.)

    The reason the vote took place now, by the way, is that the current mayor and more than half the city council got voted out of office pretty convincingly. And, in an attempt to pass through unpopular legislation by a lame-duck legislature not seen since Lincoln hit theaters, they decided that now was a perfect time to give a bunch of rich dudes millions of dollars per year in public funds. Which, by the way, they could ill afford to dole out.

    Because, I don't know, having a hockey team is good for your civic self-esteem, even if (relatively) nobody goes to the games or cares about them. Libraries and public services not so much.

    Read More »from Trending Topics: I can’t believe what a disaster Glendale is
  • What We Learned: In which the NHL goes back to lying about Don Fehr

    103117587Hello, 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.

    With the threat of the NHLPA's possible decertification looming and public sentiment once again churning back against ownership, someone had to do something.

    That something, it turned out, was Bill Daly giving a lengthy radio interview.

    Rather appropriately, on Black Friday afternoon, Bill Daly took to the airwaves of the Fan 590 to answer a few questions about how negotiations are going and basically act as if the NHLPA's decision to decertify would lead to the end of the season. And while that might very well be true — as Daly says, the legal process itself is rather time-consuming — the more captivating stuff came as the interview was wrapping up.

    (Though it is important to note that Daly seems only to view decertification and a resulting antitrust suit as being an impediment to the season taking place at all because of the time it would take, rather than the owners seeing that move as a sort of nuclear option that would force them to cancel the season outright.)

    When mediation was brought up, and the League's openness to entering the process, Daly talked out both sides of his mouth, as you might expect.

    His saying, "I've always said I'd be open to it. I'm not sure it's the best way to move the process forward," is very interesting for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is that the league very obviously shouldn't be open to having a third-party mediator come into these negotiations because that person would be able to cut through all the spin and ask the very simple question: "What exactly are you giving the players here?"

    That's likely why Daly and Bettman don't see that route as the best way to move this stagnant and frustrating process forward. They wouldn't like what the mediator had to say about things, at all.

    But the very last question the hosts (John Shannon, Brad May and Darren Millard) asked Daly elicited the kind of maddening reaction the league has been spewing for weeks with little basis in fact. When asked if he thinks the union wants to make a deal here, Daly said:

    "I've had my doubts and concerns at certain points in time. I would hope that the players want to play and want to have a season, but I'm not sure at the end of the day that, unless it's on certain terms, that union leadership necessarily shares that goal."

    This is ridiculous and irresponsible for several reasons.

    (Coming Up: Dave Bolland, Twitter dummy; Henrik Lundqvist rules Operation Hat Trick, while Marty Brodeur was a sieve; taking aim at Leafs, Habs owners; Roman Hamrlik fallout; awesome passing play; AHL history made; and a trade that would bring Brad Marchand to the Washington Capitals.)

    Read More »from What We Learned: In which the NHL goes back to lying about Don Fehr
  • The Puck Daddy Guide to Yelling at Gary Bettman (Trending Topics)

    Trending 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?

    Getty Images

    It seems like these days Gary Bettman can't go out in public without someone yelling at him, and in some ways that's fair enough.

    After all, whether it's fair or unfair, he is the public face of this lockout, and if the NHL players are so blind or unwilling to see who's really driving it — between Twitter and the hilarious and not-at-all-childish "Puck Gary" hats, there's a case to be made that it's probably willful ignorance rather than the legitimate kind — then one can't really expect Joe Sixpack to pick up on the subtle nuances of big-money labor negotiations.

    And so it was that the last two times Bettman has deigned to grace the media with a little bit of facetime, during which all manner of softball questions can be lobbed at him so as to better aid him in spin-spin-spinning the actual facts of this lockout, some angry fan has in some way confronted him about the pain Bettman is causing him and his brethren around North America.

    The first time it happened was in Toronto, on the day Bettman and the owners turned down not one, not two, but three NHLPA proposals for a new CBA, on the basis that they were not put forth by the league itself and therefore not worth the paper upon which they were printed. A few hours prior to that, as Bettman and the league contingent of silent film-style villains entered the building, a well-dressed fan named Barry Murphy approached the commissioner and asked him some rather pointed questions about what the league planned to do to re-enfranchise all the fans it has disenfranchised throughout this arduous and frustrating process.

    Not that it went well or anything, since Bettman lied right to the guy's face about getting a deal done in a timely fashion (as you might expect he would), but it was headline-grabbing and a mostly harmless interaction.

    Not so much with the sweathog who started shouting at Bettman on Wednesday, who had some pretty dumb, not especially fleshed-out ideas about how the league could solve the lockout (putting the disputed difference in escrow? What does that even mean?) and generally made a fool of himself.

    In cases like these, it's pretty easy to see why the league considers fans stupid and beneath its contempt.

    Read More »from The Puck Daddy Guide to Yelling at Gary Bettman (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Why Gary Bettman’s not bad for the NHL

    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.

    When it comes to where the blame for this lockout ultimately lies, and where battle lines are drawn, I'm not so much pro-player as I am anti-league, and that's been reflected often throughout this lockout.

    Because Gary Bettman apparently proposed a two-week moratorium on negotiations because of whatever dumb reasons he could come up with — and apparently based entirely on hearsay — everyone even remotely sympathetic to the players in this labor strife once again took the opportunity to climb their nearest mountaintop and proclaim the man deeply and truly inept, irresponsible, and worst of all, Bad For The Game.

    [Related: Is Flyers owner Ed Snider the lockout's unlikely savior?]

    But the truth of Bettman's role in this lockout, and in the League as a whole, is far more complicated than his being the guy who brought fans three lockouts in 18 years.

    The simple fact is that when he's actually doing the day-to-day business of running the League, and not locking out the players at the slightest provocation, Bettman might be the best commissioner in sports. It's absolutely and 100 percent true. How much evidence do you need?

    (Coming Up: Claude Giroux injured; Brian Burke on Luongo trade; Tomas Kaberle thinks the lockout will end soon; Alex Radulov. Malcolm Subban and Charlie Coyle are killing it; Toews and Janssen get charitable; Kirk Muller, golfer; and the Flyers and Penguins work together to save the lockout; great spin-o-rama pass.)

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  • What an amazing turn of events in NHL CBA negotiations (Trending Topics)

    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?

    So it seems as though we're back to all-around pessimism about the chances for a new collective bargaining agreement being signed, oh, sometime in 2012, which I guess is something we should have basically all seen coming.

    And yet here we are, Nov. 16, everyone looking disconsolately at their shoetops once again. Bill Daly sighing heavily like a heartbroken teenager who hopes someone will notice how sad he is to the Canadian Press that he's never been so dejected at any point in these negotiations.

    (Quick side note on this: If that's the point we're actually at now -- and I'm not saying Daly is above this kind of posturing -- then this has to be really, really bad, right? Daly's already said the league is done making proposals to the Fehr brothers because… I don't know why? The league seems to be holding pretty fast to whatever dumb demands it's foisting upon the PA this time, once again wrapping them up in neat packages with pretty writing on them — "We'll fund make-whole!" and "We're not that worried about contracting rights!" — without any instructions for how they're actually going to do that and in fact not actually doing the things they've said. But then, truth in advertising laws never applied to CBA negotiations, so why start now?)

    Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun is going off about how this might very well rock bottom for everyone and the damage being done to the game can never be repaired because of how much of a pretty big jerk everyone has been throughout the entire process.

    But isn't it interesting that all this dirt-kicking, quiet sobbing came just days after the NHL realized Don Fehr was actually playing hardball and wasn't going to acquiesce to whatever offers they slid across the table? It attempted last Friday to drive a wedge between the top executives of the NHLPA and the players themselves by mentioning in as casual a manner possible for the maladroit and robotic communicator such as Gary Bettman -- who often comes across as being less of a real person with actual feelings as Mitt Romney ever did -- that oh, by the way, Donald Fehr isn't telling his constituents everything about the negotiations.

    This was, of course, based on nothing but the fact that Fehr was taking too long coming back from the bathroom or whatever other slights that didn't follow Robert's Rules of Order, and, as hilariously transparent as it was, it was woefully unsuccessful in achieving its ends.

    Read More »from What an amazing turn of events in NHL CBA negotiations (Trending Topics)
  • Let’s try to avoid making fun of NHL concussion victims (What We Learned)

    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.

    Everyone on Twitter has said some dumbass thing at some point in their life, but it's really starting to look like one group in particular cannot help itself.

    Obviously, hockey agents have a vested interest in promoting their clients and those players' accomplishments. Thus Allan Walsh's praise of all things "Pavelectric" when the goaltender only gives up three goals on 24 shots in a game Winnipeg somehow wins. They're also very vocal — some would say annoyingly and obtusely so — in their support for the Players' Association during this lockout, and again, that's fair enough.

    [The Vent: Fans vote against NHL lockout with their wallets]

    But when you do something as stupid as Scott Norton did on Saturday, in the current NHL climate, well, that goes well beyond the pale.

    It was reported over the weekend that Nathan Horton is now back to 100 percent and ready to play whenever the NHL is. This is of course great news for the oft-concussed and extremely talented goal scorer, who played just 46 games last year after recovering from a concussion given to him in the Stanley Cup Final by Aaron Rome.

    The most recent head injury came from a headshot from well-known thug and Philadelphia Flyers player Tom Sestito.

    Norton thought it was a positive as well.

    "Good news!" he tweeted. "Stay out of [Sestito's] way next time."

    It will surprise you not at all to learn that Norton represents Sestito, in the way a mob lawyer represents career criminals.

    Read More »from Let’s try to avoid making fun of NHL concussion victims (What We Learned)
  • 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?

    So apparently there is a whole big to-do over the fact that Pavel Bure, who's very deservedly going into the Hockey Hall of Fame, may also get his number retired by the Canucks at some point in the indeterminate future. (Although it seems this fact is now the topic of some debate.)

    [Nick Cotsonika: Oh, the memories: Two weeks on the NHL beat in Europe]

    If they are indeed retiring his jersey, the reason this is a big deal is that, as you'll recall, Bure kind of shot his way out of town and may or may not have threatened to sit out games in 1994 over a contract dispute.

    The latter fact, by the way, has been denied up and down by all involved; and given that the team obliged his request to ship him out of town and has, for the longest time, been under no obligation to carry water for him, it seems likely that if it were in any way true someone, at some point, would have said something along the lines of, "Oh yeah, he totally threatened that holdout," by now.

    He did, to be fair, hold out four years later, and was eventually traded for Ed Jovanovski among other pieces, and thus the acrimony among a particularly sad subset of Canucks fans has been allowed to fester lo these last 13 years or so. And those 13 years of hard feelings and what-ifs are apparently enough to begrudge a player who is clearly the best to ever pull on a Vancouver sweater his being honored by the team that he personally led to perhaps its greatest glory, and certainly, its first shot at real relevance in this league. The way people talk about him, you'd think the guy left a couple babies, a litter of puppies and a fourth-line winger in a hot car with the windows rolled up, instead of what he actually did, which is "not love living and playing in Vancouver." Not that you could really tell from the on-ice performance.

    The guy played like five full(ish) seasons for Vancouver and scored 50-plus goals in three of them. In fact, in two of those, he scored 60. Perhaps the most indelible memory of anything Canucks-related in hockey's collective conscious (if we limit it to on-ice events and not their dumb ass fans burning the city down) is Bure's overtime goal in Game 7 against Calgary. There's no law that says you have to like the guy, I guess, but you can't sit there and act like he's anything less than the best Canuck of all time.

    Read More »from Let’s just settle something about NHL teams retiring jerseys (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Cautious optimism in the NHL lockout gets us nowhere

    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.

    I'm super-sure that it's just a coincidence that the day the NHL cancels the Winter Classic, formally and officially and forever until next year anyway, news of its bending on the make-whole provisions earlier in the week hits the streets.

    I'm also really certain that it's purely by chance that the day after, Steve Fehr and Bill Daly shack up in an undisclosed location, like the President and his Cabinet during a national terror alert, and sit around having a frank discussion about Core Economic Issues that everyone else has been dancing around but never actually touching for months now.

    [Also: Why it's OK the NHL canceled the Winter Classic]

    Just like, as Larry Brooks points out, it's really weird and quite a nice bit of happenstance that the league came out with an not-actually-50-50 proposal after that focus group garbage about "shared sacrifice" got outed on Deadspin.

    The point is that you have to take all this stuff with the smallest grain of salt ever recorded by science. Some might say it's a positive sign that they got Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr out of the negotiation process since they won't be in a position screw it up. But at the same time, we also don't know what those two — who we can all probably agree are way more likely to scream a lot and hold their breath and stamp their feet over the slightest concession — will have to say about whatever Daly and the younger Fehr bring back to them.

    Not that either went into the clandestine meetings having been unschooled in what their superiors wanted to discuss and float to the other side, but these simply aren't formal meetings.

    And certainly, none of this is a harbinger that despite the cancellation of the Winter Classic and the league's odd, ongoing refusal to similarly nix the All-Star Game, any real progress is being made.

    Remember the story of Bill Daly and Ted Saskin, the predecessor to Steve Fehr's predecessor's predecessor (I think? It's hard to keep track of all the NHLPA hirings and firings at this point), hammering out the framework of what eventually became the old CBA well before the 2004-05 lockout actually ended, briefly referenced here? They apparently had it all more or less figured out, but it still took months to resolve everything.

    [Nick Cotsonika: Wayne Simmonds won't let racist incident ruin Euro trip]

    Now, admittedly, the league's situation, and financials, are in far better shape than they were in 2004-05, so there's probably less work to do overall; but nonetheless, it's strange how anyone but the exceptionally desperate can see a light at the end of this tunnel.

    (Coming Up: Wings fans done with NHL; Bruce Boudreau has Halloween in perspective; Taylor Hall's big hit; Mattias Tedenby's sick goal; Erik Cole is pessimistic; BizNasty, scoring god; is Jake Gardiner untouchable for the Leafs?; Lindy Ruff is nervous; and a blockbuster trade proposal between Chicago and Edmonton.)

    Read More »from What We Learned: Cautious optimism in the NHL lockout gets us nowhere
  • Getty Image

    Trending 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?

    A lot of people — myself included — have been focusing a healthy amount of vitriol over this ongoing lockout at a group of owners thought to be central to the work stoppage's existence. Owners like Boston's Jeremy Jacobs, Calgary's Murray Edwards, Minnesota's Craig Leipold, Philadelphia's Ed Snider, Washington's Ted Leonsis, and so forth, have largely been seen as the guys driving the bus because they're the ones that have been at all the meetings.

    But a funny thing happened this week. Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column went up earlier this week and kind of turned those suppositions on their ears. He named Jacobs as the likely Lex Luthor of this lockout (to the surprise of absolutely no one), and also implicated Leonsis as being complicit in heavily pushing the owners' agenda. But it turns out that it's — perhaps logically — not the owners in the markets where teams are actually making money that want the lockout to continue for the betterment of their bottom lines three or five years from now.

    Friedman says an educated guess has the owners of the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes (which makes sense since you-know-who is calling the shots there), St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals as the ones who are being the real hardliners in all this.

    What do those teams have in common? With a few exceptions in various areas, no one gives a rat's ass about them, they're poorly managed to begin with, they're guilty of giving out cap-circumventing contracts, and they stink.

    Read More »from We have seen the lockout enemy, and he is awful NHL teams (Trending Topics)
  • 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.)

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