Items That Wouldn’t Fit Into My Daily Blog, Vol. 1:
Â• You hear it all the time in hockey circles: Who really cares about the never-ending drama at the NHL Players’ Association?
Well, I do, for more than a few reasons. But here’s a good example why fans should be interested in a strong, healthy players’ union:
You know the Nashville Predators? The franchise that almost assuredly will be relocating sometime in the next couple years? Yeah, them.
It’s heavily rumored new owner Jim Balsillie wants to move the Preds to southern Ontario, but it’s also heavily rumored NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants a third team in the province as much as Bill Wirtz wants to slow-dance cheek-to-cheek with Bob Goodenow.
However, given that the players share in any and all league revenues, you’d think they would prefer any relocating owner to focus on a host city that can gross them the most. Such a philosophy would force any businessman to rank a third Ontario team ahead of a first for Kansas City, Seattle or Houston.
Here’s where the PA theoretically comes in. If the union had a tenacious leader truly concerned about players’ best financial interests, he would be fighting in favor of a Kitchener/Waterloo or Hamilton; further, he could also call Bettman out for permitting the Toronto Maple Leafs to continually shoot down and shoo away the prospect of serious business competition in their own backyard.
I’m not saying a revitalized NHLPA could or would grant the wishes of southern Ontarians sick of the Leafs’ monopoly on the region. But the potential of this situation proves players needn’t always be at odds with fans. And vice-versa.
Â• One Eastern Conference GM who spoke to The Hockey News.com on condition of anonymity believes it won’t be only star players such as Daniel Briere and Chris Drury who quickly get snapped up when unrestricted free agency kicks off July 1.
Â“There will certainly be major demand for the high-end players,Â” said the GM, who estimates the grand majority of the free agent frenzy will run its course in five days. Â“But I believe many teams will be targeting other types of players as well.
Â“Role players, guys you can lock in at a certain (read: lower) salary range, will also be in high demand. And sometimes, those type of supplementary signings can mean as much or more to a franchise’s long-term (cap) abilities than the big-ticket players.Â”
Â• There are some who will say Sidney Crosby is too young and inexperienced to be named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are probably the same ones who swore he wouldn’t make a good assistant captain and the same ones who suggested his ascent to the top of the NHL’s scoring mountain wouldn’t happen quite so quickly.
In fact, it seems the only ones who are unprepared for what’s to come are the ones who continue to cast doubt on Crosby. With every passing day Â– even in the off-season Â– you get the distinct sense this league is becoming a 1,000-pound wild hog and Crosby is an 11-year-old with a pistol.
Â• Was it my imagination, or was that a rink boards ad for a Canadian pizza company I saw at Anaheim’s Honda Center during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final? I’m sure the Ducks’ post-season run is helping them make an impact on their community, but if they have to go outside the country to sell in-arena ads, they’ve obviously got a long way to go.
Â• Sometimes the NHL really can’t catch a break. On the day of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, they get derailed from any potential sports talk radio in the California area thanks to a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t trade request by Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. You couldn’t have postponed your freak-out act Â‘till late June, Kobe?
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