Hello, 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.
Jeremy Jacobs is widely known as being the guy who makes lockouts happen.
He's been a rather prominent figure in both of these last two work stoppages and caught a lot of flak for his role in them, being portrayed at various times as a bully even with other owners, and a condescending jerk to the players with whom he is negotiating.
It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, that he would act this way, given that by his own admission he owns a moneymaking franchise that won a Stanley Cup and has been able to keep drafting excellent players despite high finishes under the last CBA, and is in no economic danger whatsoever. But in business, maybe you do have to be as ruthless as possible to turn a profit.
So it was really and truly bizarre to see the man himself get up there before the Bruins' opening-day 3-1 win against the New York Rangers and defend the lockout as having been wholly necessary, and despite using the word "apologize," basically say he'd do it all over again in the exact same way.
There were some particularly choice quotes about the players', ahem, refusal to negotiate that were just maddening. Saying things like, "I know that prior to the opening and trying to save an 82-game season, the same offer was pretty much substantially made that was agreed upon last week," is a bizarre distortion of reality even for a man like Jacobs who must have to shower in cognitive dissonance every morning just to feel like he's a good owner.
Frankly, it's just baffling that Jacobs would make the decision to trot himself out there and give this kind of out-of-touch presser. He is universally despised in the hockey world, and when even delivering a Stanley Cup to Boston doesn't make one a popular figure, maybe it's time to lay off the let-them-eat-cake speeches.
The worst part, though, (and perhaps the least surprising as well) was that he used the opportunity to not actually apologize, but rather to grandstand about how, as chairman of the Board of Governors, it was his responsibility to see the lockout through, rather than keep his own self-interest at heart.
"My selfish interest was definitely to keep this going within the parameters of the deal that was out there," he said as everyone in the room got motion sickness from all the spin. "But it doesn’t make sense for the league long term. We have a lot of people tired of this. A lot of people were promised that we’d try and right-size this, and I had to play a role in it. From a leadership standpoint, I think I had to play a role. To be vilified, I don’t think it’s right, but what’s my opinion in something like that?"
But then came the best part, when a reporter asked Jacobs whether he blames the NHLPA for the lockout dragging on as it did. The answer was simple, and said everything one needed to know about the likelihood for another lockout in eight or, if we're being especially kind, 10 years: "I won't comment on that." He later added, "Some of these lockouts make no sense," without a hint of irony.
Another choice quote: "We’ve got to work with the players and have them recognize that we’ve got a common direction, a common goal."
So much for not commenting.
And on Don Fehr, who has fallen back into the shadows in inverse proportion to Gary Bettman and the owners' stepping back toward the light, he said, "I wouldn’t give him credit for anything. I’m not able to give him credit for anything, so I don’t know."
So there's your answer for everything. This is all the players' fault, Don Fehr is still a suicide bomber who was in reality the one who did all the damage about which Jacobs spoke at length on Saturday, and all of this could have been avoided if they'd done the sensible thing and taken the proffered 50-50 deal in October that was almost exactly the same as the proposal they ended up signing months later, except for all those things that made the later one in any way palatable.
What this press conference, and the lines around the block for almost every one of the 13 buildings that hosted games on Saturday, tells me is that nothing has been learned, and if anything, the owners are now emboldened that they can lock out the players any old time they want. They'll have to pay the usual lip service for how damaging it all was for the sport, but they won't actually have to care because these suckers still line up with money in hand, begging to be parted from it. Bruins hysteria may actually be near all-time highs despite the fact that their C. Montgomery Burnsian owner was essentially the one who deprived every NHL market of hockey these last few months.
Make no mistake, Jacobs' words show the owners' stance is validated, now and forever. They have always viewed fans as nothing but ATMs with day jobs, and now they'll never have to stop. This return from the lockout, while fraught with various small-time discounts as a means of mending fences, is nonetheless an opportunity to simply hold their supporters upside down and cut their wallets open like that first shark from Jaws, to see how much they can get to spill out.
Coincidentally, immediately following this rather odd press conference, Jacobs went down to the entrance to TD Garden to hand out coupons for something he's now never going to give the players: Concessions.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne on his game against Vancouver, in which he scored twice and added a pair of assists: "Physically, health-wise, I feel great. But I know I need at least four or five games to get my legs back. To be honest, I can't wait until I start feeling good because it is going to be way more fun than this." He didn't have his legs and picked up four points. What a guy.
Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton officially made the Bruins as many suspected he would and looked mostly okay against the Rangers. One thing I didn't know: His parents were Olympians who met at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres extended Darcy Regier, presumably because his big roster moves in the last two years include signing Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, then trading for Steve Ott. What a GM.
Calgary Flames: The chance that Miikka Kiprusoff plays all 48 for Calgary is nonzero.
Carolina Hurricanes: You mean going out and getting Alex Semin and Jordan Staal didn't solve the Hurricanes' myriad defensive problems? I just can't believe it.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane's goal to open the scoring on the season was about as good as shots get.