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.
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.)
Not wanting to play "unless it's on certain terms" very clearly applies to the League as well. If this wasn't the case, we'd be playing right now, right? Like, if Bettman and ownership weren't waiting for "certain terms," they'd have signed any one of those three proposals the PA gave them in Toronto instead of lying on the ground and screaming. So to imply that only the Fehr brothers are putting those constraints on negotiations is plainly disingenuous, although I don't know what else I've come to expect from this league.
More importantly, this is once again the NHL trying to drive a wedge between the PA brass and the players. "Hey, these guys want to get a deal done but this Fehr guy isn't letting them." How many times have we heard pretty specific details about how testy the negotiating rooms are getting, or about how heated the debate on PA conference calls have gotten? Everyone's on edge because they're missing big paychecks, but if Fehr's biggest crime is that he's saying, "The League's offering isn't as good as it could be and I don't recommend you take it," then he's not exactly Al Capone in terms of history's all-time great crooks.
His job, as I understand it, is to make sure the players get the best deal possible. Is this no longer the case?
The thing is, the players have been so outspoken throughout the entire lockout that you have to imagine if Fehr kept lining up against the majority opinion, someone, by now, would have said something. I'm not talking about the few guys like Roman Hamrlik saying, "We should just take this deal," but rather someone — anyone, really — saying, "We keep telling him to just take this deal and Don keeps saying no."
So it seems that this, like the, "Fehr isn't telling the players everything that happens in these meetings," stuff of a few weeks ago is spin at best, and an outright lie at worst. Imagine the indignation if Fehr came out and said the same thing about Bettman and the owners.
As with the aforementioned weeks-old allegations, this is the League saying he's not carrying out the will of his constituents because it doesn't know what else to do. This is, in a way, the kind of "negotiating through the media" tactic the league has often accused the NHLPA of following. Throwing your hands up and saying you don't know how to deal with a guy who won't listen to the players he represents is a pretty convenient way of acting like the stalemate here is entirely on Fehr.
He won't take the deal unless certain terms are met, like the owners paying out the full value of the deals they've already signed and more efficiently sharing revenues so that the bad teams in bad markets that are the driving force behind the lockout to begin with are able to better avoid losing money even when they don't draw fans and finish outside the playoffs. What temerity ...
Daly, to his credit, seems to be constantly available to the media to answer whatever questions they may have, more or less 24 hours a day and seven days a week. That sort of openness is what's made him a well-liked and approachable member of the league's brass even as his boss is pretty much withdrawn and standoffish. Which is why this hatchet-man spin-doctor job he's done in the last couple weeks is so wearisome and unbecoming.
It certainly doesn't help anyone get any closer to ending this lockout. So why do it at all?
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks' AHL affiliate signed Rod Pelley to a tryout contract, after he played 52 games in the NHL last year. Through Saturday night, the team is three games under .500 and 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, so things are going great in Norfolk.
Boston Bruins: Someone taped up a bunch of "missing" posters of the Bruins on Friday, which a lot of people predicted would be the start of the season but was instead very obviously not. TD Garden security quickly took them down.
Buffalo Sabres: Former Sabre and current assistant coach Teppo Numminen will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame next year. In his career, he played in four Olympics, four World Championships and four Canada or World Cups. Although, there's this from the IIHF: "Teppo Numminen is arguably one of the greatest international defencemen of the modern era." Slow down.
Calgary Flames: Speaking of assistant coaches and post-career honors, the Gatineau Olympiques retired Martin Gelinas's jersey on Friday. On further review, though, the NHL said the jersey never went all the way into the rafters. They even created a computer simulation to verify it. It all seemed very legitimate to me.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Charlotte Checkers finally had their streak of six straight games with points snapped by Oklahoma City in a 4-2 loss. Through the end of that game the were second in the AHL's Western Conference with 26 points and just four regulation losses in 18 games. Bunch of losers.
Chicago Blackhawks: Dave Bolland is really sorry he retweeted that guy who said he wanted Gary Bettman to die. Like c'mon here dudes and dudettes, who hasn't retweeted that kind of thing while probably wearing a hat that says "Puck Gary?" We've all been there. Jeez.
Colorado Avalanche: Talk about trying to sugarcoat a loss: "Lake Erie Monsters match intensity, but not goals." I'm sure their coach gave them all orange slices after the game and took them out for pizza though.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The NHL says it "feels badly" for Columbus because it had to cancel the All-Star Game. Everyone else feels badly for Columbus because Scott Howson is still its GM.
Dallas Stars: Dallas Prospect Brett Ritchie continues to play very well in the OHL, as he now has points in 10 straight games. During that time, he's scored — get this — 17 goals, and assisted on nine others. Someone check his birth certificate.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Through Saturday, Grand Rapids had won eight straight games, and were first in their division. This after starting the season 2-4-2.
Edmonton Oilers: Is Ales Hemsky getting back to full shoulder health? Could be. Doesn't hurt that he plays in what is essentially a no-contact league in the Czech Republic. When actual NHL players start hitting him again, I'm sure that shoulder's gonna go all wonky again.
Florida Panthers: Will someone please let Peter Mueller just play hockey already?
Los Angeles Kings: Slava Voynov is apparently playing very well indeed in the AHL, which I guess I would expect given that he is a strong NHL-level defenseman.
Minnesota Wild: Could the Wild trade some of their many high-quality prospects for help on the blue line? Hope so. There's nothing like a team that finished 24th in the league last season going into "Win Now" mode.
Montreal Canadiens: Really great column from Pat Hickey here. Why aren't high-powered owners with a lot of financial clout, like, say, those behind the Habs and Leafs, injecting themselves into CBA negotiations? Nine of the league's 10 most valuable franchises have been largely absent from proceedings. Click this link.
Nashville Predators: Ryan Ellis is finally playing in the AHL after recovering from a broken wrist. In his first three games of the season, he has two assists and 10 shots on goal. So he's off to a pretty good start.
New Jersey Devils: Marty Brodeur gave up 10 goals on 40 shots in that Operation Hat Trick game. He's finished. Hang 'em up, Marty.
New York Islanders: The Bridgeport Sound Tigers didn't have a good weekend defensively. Three games, 18 goals against. Not what you want.
New York Rangers: Leave it to freakin' Henrik Lundqvist to make 57 saves on 63 shots in a charity game. He's incredible.
Ottawa Senators: The Sens will host a business seminar today for season ticket- and suiteholders. One assumes a central tenet of the pitch will be about making sure your employees can't come to work.
Philadelphia Flyers: Perhaps the biggest success of the Operation Hat Trick game is that Jody Shelley mostly didn't try to kill anyone. However, Dan Carcillo and Arron Asham play-acted a potential fight, because of course they did.
Phoenix Coyotes: Today is Day No. 108 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. Well the Glendale City Council voted to move forward with the new arena deal, and that's going to cost the city itself 200 jobs over the next five years. Unbelievable. What's even the point?
Pittsburgh Penguins: This lockout is killing the owners. Look at the house Mario Lemieux just moved into in Quebec. At just 15,000 square feet, it's basically a hovel.
San Jose Sharks: Defensive pairing partners Justin Braun and Jason Demers are now opponents in Finland, as Braun recently signed with Tappara and Demers has been playing for Karpat since September.
St. Louis Blues: Speaking of defensemen signing in Finland, Kevin Shattenkirk just did that.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Syracuse Crunch have won eight straight games away from home, and are 11-3-1 overall. They haven't lost in regulation on the road, which is pretty crazy.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Dallas Eakins on Nazem Kadri: "He's a special kid when he's going." Don't remember him having that good of a backhand in his playing days.
Vancouver Canucks: Roberto Luongo has no current plans to play in Europe during the lockout, but Francois Allaire is working with him in Florida. No Roberto don't do it! That guy ruined Jonas Gustavsson's career!
Washington Capitals: Good work by Joe Yerdon to suss out Braden Holtby's thoughts on the current Caps labor dispute between Troy Brouwer and both Michal Neuvirth and Roman Hamrlik.
Winnipeg Jets: Speaking of Hamrlik, Andrew Ladd wants to fight him or something it looks like.
Play of the Weekend
I actually said out loud, "Oh [expletive] you," when I watched this passing play for the first time. Ridiculous.
Gold Star Award
Congratulations to Barry Brust, who broke a 55-year-old AHL record by running his shutout streak to an astonishing 268:17. San Antonio broke that streak later in the game, but Brust's season save percentage is currently .978 (albeit in just five games).
Minus of the Weekend
Couldn't find plus-minus numbers for the Atlantic City game. Really bummed I can't make fun of anyone for going minus-5 in a charity game. That's how much I miss hockey-related derision. This dumb lockout.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "BudMovin" has this one locked down.
2013 2nd or 2014 1st
If all you're going on is my confession, forget it, I'm simply not credible.