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What We Learned: On Jeremy Jacobs’ baffling, frustrating NHL lockout grandstanding

Ryan Lambert
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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.

Colorado Avalanche: David Jones is already on the hook this season thanks to a bad icing mistake that gave the Minnesota Wild an offensive-zone faceoff on which Dany Heatley scored the first of his two goals. Don't worry though, Avs fans, he's only signed for four years at $4 million per, and Ryan O'Reilly still doesn't have a contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Jack Johnson got just shy of 26 minutes in Columbus' opener, a shock 3-2 shootout win in Nashville. Playing Jack Johnson 26 minutes a night doesn't seem like the best way to keep winning games 3-2, but maybe that's just me.

Dallas Stars: The Stars arena crew made a joke about an empty seat being Manti Te'o's girlfriend, but judging by the crowd shot in the link, it looks like she brought a lot of friends and family as well. Apparently they called it a sellout. Who's counting, I guess.

Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Not to read too much into this one opening night loss to what is expected to be a top team in the West, but it, "could be start of epic failure." Hey, I get it. Giving up six is one thing. Only putting 14 shots on net? Another entirely.

Edmonton Oilers: In an effort to plug the holes left by the departure of all the Oilers' really good young players, their AHL team went out and signed Jonathan Cheechoo to a tryout deal. Desperate times and all that.

Florida Panthers: Pretty decent start to an NHL career for Jonathan Huberdeau, who had two assists and this goal just 3:37 into the game.

Los Angeles Kings: Not a good assessment of the Kings' opening day loss to Chicago. "The only clean passes they completed Saturday occurred when they relayed the Cup from hand to hand during a pregame ceremony." Oof. And by the way, this new thing of trotting out the Stanley Cup again on opening day is just about the dumbest thing ever.

Minnesota Wild: Decent start to their time together for Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise: A combined 2-4-6 in the team's win. This line could be serious trouble for the rest of the West going forward.

Montreal Canadiens: When you're losing opening night at home to the Maple Leafs, well, that's no good at all.

Nashville Predators: Shea Weber got in an ill-advised fight in coming to the defense of a teammate and that's pretty much the reason the Predators didn't win. There's still 13 years and 47 games left on that deal.

New Jersey Devils: If Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac can face this kind of defending every night, those contracts are going to look very good. Not a strong sequence for Mark Streit.

New York Islanders: Jack Capuano was apparently in the hospital, and missed Saturday's game as a consequence. No word on his condition.

New York Rangers: Hey sure the Rangers lost 3-1 with a pretty mediocre effort on opening night, but at least Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel found dance partners for fights three seconds apart in the second period.

Ottawa Senators: Paul MacLean wasn't too happy with his team's performance in the first two periods on Saturday. "I thought the game was played a little bit like a dog's breakfast in the first and second period," he said.

Philadelphia Flyers: Ilya Bryzgalov, you gave up two goals in a season-opening loss to your bitter rivals, both of which were on tip-ins, and one of them came from your own defenseman. Meanwhile the offense managed just one goal. You suck, Ilya Bryzgalov.

Phoenix Coyotes: Today is Day No. 164 since Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Arizona said Greg Jamison would have the deal for the Coyotes sewn up within the next five days. Meanwhile, Matthew Lombardi didn't even practice with the Coyotes before slotting in on the third line in Saturday's game. He was just fine.

Pittsburgh Penguins: You know how you know Sid Crosby is an unbelievable talent? He didn't have a point in the first game of the season and everyone is making a note of it. "No points for Crosby in 19 minutes? What is this!?"

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks haven't really shaken up their roster in years, but they're hoping that adding a few pieces here and there will really help to reverse the signs of aging.

St. Louis Blues: Hey it looks like this Vladimir Tarasenko kid is going to be really good. Two goals in his NHL debut? That'll play.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Big ups to Cory Conacher, who went from the ECHL during the 2011 season to the Lightning's opening night roster, and then had a two-point night, including this goal.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Not to read too much into a 2-1 win over a garbage team on opening day but this is technically progress I guess.

Vancouver Canucks: This season couldn't have started out more hilarious if it tried. Just the best thing.

Washington Capitals: A defensive meltdown for Washington leads to a three-goal third period for the Lightning? These ain't Dale Hunter's Capitals any more.

Winnipeg Jets: Ondrej Pavelec? Still sucks.

Play of the Weekend

Speaking of Vladimir Tarasenko:

The defending by Kyle Quincey was less than ideal there.

Gold Star Award

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Teemu forever.

Minus of the Weekend

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The league-wide PK rate after opening day was 71.3 percent. That's gotta drive coaches crazy.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "BigFatCat999" sees the Blue Jackets going shopping.

To Columbus:

Iginla (1 yr left), and Kipper (2 yrs left)

To Calgary:
1st (CBJ has 3) and Boone Jenner

Signoff

I don't take no anesthetic. Did Lincoln ask for any girlie gas when they blowed his head off?

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness almost never over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don’t you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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