Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tale of two prospects

Now, with the World Juniors going on, all eyes are on the stars of tomorrow. With Canada, it's all about Sidney Crosby and what he's been doing and what he could do in the future. On the more low key side, the 2004 Overall First Pick in the NHL Draft, Alexander Ovechkin, hasn't raised many eyebrows, but has created some controversy in his rituals off the ice.

Let's first start with Sidney Crosby. The one they call the next one raised many eyebrows saying that he would come back and play in the NHL with replacement players if that's what he needed to do to get into the NHL. Not 24 hours later, Crosby retracted those comments more than likely because his agent, Pat Brisson, would have been decertified by the NHLPA if that were to happen.

Also, Crosby is creating a stir from the inside by something being revealed that he has a clause in his junior contract that he is, literally, uncoachable. That means that Doris Labonté cannot instruct him to do anything. Crosby carried that over to the World Junior front, much to the shagrin of coach Brent Sutter.

It seems that the ego in the kid is getting built up more and more. While he does have great skill and ability, he'll have to brace for a huge change if he wants to make it in the NHL and not become another Alexandre Daigle. He is getting ahead of himself and everything like that, but he needs to focus on the long-term goal. He can be very easily disposed of and yesterday's news if he cannot be the cash-cow on and off the ice which he portrays himself to be.

Moving over to Russia, Alexander Ovechkin has been very quiet this tournament. As I type this, Ovechkin has 3 goals and 2 assist in 3 games, but is getting little to no coverage from any media outlet. The only attention he has received is the negative one.

TSN has watching the USA/Russia game that was on the 26th. After the warm-ups, the cameras stayed on Ovechkin as he sat on the bench, chirped at fans who were chirping at him, and watch the Zamboni around. The commentators (Gino Reda, Bob McKenzie, and Pierre McGuire) said that was a shot at his teammates and he alienated himself because they said "he feels too good to be with the team." Also, there was a comment made that the Washington Capitals, who were there to scout out Ovechkin and the USA's Chris Bourque, were hoping this wasn't a sign of things to come from the Russian Wunderkind.

Personally, I don't see what Ovechkin could be doing wrong by just trying to focus. When I see a player sit on a bench like that, all by himself trying to focus on the ice, I would actually accept it. Many people don't understand the kind of pressure that the International Stage could put on a player, and maybe someone like Ovechkin cannot focus on the task at hand with the hoopla in the lockerroom. However, many think Russian players are all about themselves and all about one-up-manship. Sadly, many of those people are mislead.

In any case, both these hot propsects have been under some kind of microscope. Some are magnified more, some less. In the end, every player in this tournament will give NHL scouts and coaches an eyeful.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Dissecting the NHL Proposal

First off, Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Be safe and enjoy.

Now onto business. The NHL came back with a proposal a few weeks back that was shot down by the NHLPA in about 10 minutes. The NHL used portions of the the NHLPA's proposal to build on their proposal and was very well thought out.

Now, the main points for the NHL proposal that was different from the NHLPA's:

  • One time rollback salaries with percentage ranging from 0% to 35%
  • No Luxury Tax
  • Arbitration eliminated from the CBA
  • Group III Free Agents age down from 31 to 30
  • A different model of revenue sharing
  • Extra year on Entry Level contracts, as well as the elimination of performance bonuses
Now, the rollback from the NHL's side looks a little like this: The 349 players making less than $800,000 would not lose any salary. The 191 earning between $800,000 and $1.499 million would take a 15-percent cut. The 58 players earning between $1.5 million and $1.99 million would take a 20-percent decrease. The 133 players making between $2 million and $3.99 million would take a 24 percent cut. The 24 players making between $4 million and $4.99 million would receive a 30-percent cut. The 41 players earning $5 million and up would lose 35 percent.

It seems that the NHLPA's proposal was used against them in some sort. I bet they're happy about all of that.

The one place that the NHL would probably have to move off on is the Group III age. Even though the NHLPA didn't put that into their proposal, I think the NHL would have to get the age down to about 27-28 for it to be taken into good graces by the NHLPA.

The rest of the NHL's proposal could be seen on their CBA website.

Now, as you notice, the NHL did not put any provision of a salary cap, hard or soft on there, but they complete shot down the ludicrous luxury tax that the NHLPA put forth in their proposal. When you break it down, it won't prove to be stable enough for the NHL to keep all 30 teams in good financial condition.

What's left to discuss?? We don't know. No meetings are talked about under at least after Christmas. Even after that, the future for discussions are unknown. What is known is that the NHL will hold a Board of Governors meeting on January 14th, which basically signaled to the NHLPA that this will be the drop-dead date. Rumours have it that the NHLPA is working on a proposal that will branch more off the NHL's proposal and actually help the NHL's cause in the long-run.

For a side-by-side comparsion of the two proposals, just click this hyperlink and see what each side has to say.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Dissecting the NHLPA Proposal

Unless you've lived in a cave for the better part of last week or were part of the Scott Peterson jury, you know that the NHLPA presented the worst kept secret in hockey by putting a new proposal on the table. This one was actually somewhat nice on the outside, but when you actually look at it-- not so good.

Here are the six main points of the proposal:

  • An overall market deflator that resets player compensation at a new, sharply reduced level by rolling back all player compensation by 24% through the life of existing contracts. In addition to an immediate economic impact for owners and their teams, the deflator will have major ongoing effects on new contracts.
  • A new set of system deflators that will reduce spending on the individual contracts executed in the new, rolled-back marketplace. These system deflators include reduced qualifying offers; the use of rolled-back and new contracts as the only comparables available in salary arbitration at the election of the club for two new purposes identified by the NHL as important.
  • A payroll tax with lower thresholds and higher rates than previously proposed. The payroll tax will operate at the macroeconomics level to inhibit individual clubs from increasing payrolls beyond certain levels. If a club triggers the tax, its payments will flow into a poll for distribution by the NHL and the NHLPA.
  • A revenue redistribution plan that will (a) transfer money from the high-revenue clubs to the low-revenue clubs; and (b) encourage low-revenue clubs to increase their own revenues. The redistribution will operate at the macroeconomic level to inhibit spending on players by the clubs that have formerly spent the most.
  • Joint Player-Club committees designed to ensure real improvements in the game, its marketing and its revenues, along with other areas of mutual concern.
  • Adjustments and updates to a variety of other CBA provisions.
It looks all nice and cute, huh?? Well, the NHL is going to rejected on their meeting on Tuesday. They saying what everyone else has been saying that the 24% is nice on the outside, but it's like putting a band-aid on severed arm.

It may come off as "great", "spectacular", "momaculous", but the problem is that it's a one time rollback and in about 2 years-- the problem will be back to the status quo it is today. It's a big move by the NHLPA and it should be commended that they would do something like that; but it's a short solution to a long term problem. Plus, since it's only a one time thing-- all the Free Agents coming in and to be UFA's next season don't have to suffer through it. They will get the money they're seeking and it won't do a damn bit of good for the NHL to accept something that's going to just get worse.

The "deflators" that the PA is talking about, one includes a Cap on Entry Level salaries. You know, it's good to see that the NHLPA is looking out for "the next generation coming into play." That will really show them that the older members were looking out for them. Other than that-- it all goes back to the 24% rollback and how they see that as a long term "deflator."

The payroll tax is absurd. For teams over 45M is 20 cents on the dollar, over 55M is 40 cents, and over 60M is 50 cents on the dollar. How low can you go?? How low can you go?? If they think that they'll help out, they need to keep sipping on the Bob Goodenow Kool-Aid and keep thinking it. It could be a weird starting point, but the fact of the matter is that this tax needs to have dollar-for-dollar value or else it's not going to matter the value of it over 45M, because it won't mean squat.

The others are just a downfall of the Luxury Tax, the Shanahan Summit, and just other CBA entities. All in all, it's a nice proposal in theory-- but in theory; communism worked out for the betterment of society.

But, come Tuesday, the NHL and it's owners will reject it and send something to the NHLPA. But since the NHLPA is convinced that ANY linkage to salaries and revenue is a Salary Cap; then they will not accept it and we'll all be on our way.

Here's hoping both the NHL and NHLPA can come to their senses seeing as both are alienating their fans and not making many friends, but I doubt that'll happen.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Reply to the "Shanahan Summit"

On Tuesday and Wednesday; Brendan Shanahan took people from all aspects of hockey to have "summit" on what needs to be changed in order for the game of hockey to be better.

Those present included Toronto Maple Leafs players Mats Sundin and Alexander Mogilny, as well as Curtis Joseph of the Red Wings, Jim McKenzie of the Nashville Predators, Al MacInnis of the St. Louis Blues, James Patrick of the Buffalo Sabres, Sean Burke of the Philadelphia Flyers, former NHLer Andy Brickley, head coaches Marc Crawford of the Vancouver Canucks, Dave Tippett of the Dallas Stars and John Tortorella of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, hockey television analysts Glenn Healy and John Davidson, TV executives John Shannon of LeafsTV and Tom McNeeley of ESPN, former GM and league executive Brian Burke and former referee Terry Gregson, who retired this past summer.

What they come up with were 10 proposals for rule changes that they will present to the NHL and NHLPA. Their rules would come up with are bolded and numbered with my responce being underneath-- more than likely bulleted. So let's do this-- shall we??

1. Create a competition committee
  • This is a good jumping off point-- that's for sure. But in what capacity would they be involved?? How would they jump in?? How severe would the problems have to be for them to get in on the action?? It's a good idea in theory, but unless it's a role that would be consistant and not just have a pretty title-- then it wouldn't be effective.
2. Change the obstruction rules

  • This is a must, but haven't we gone through this before?? The main problem with the obstruction is that if it's called; people complain. If it's not called; people complain. It's a stupid rule, but it has to be implimented. The referees have to not buckle under public appeal and call the game as they see it. They shouldn't be influenced by outsiders and just call a game the way they'd see it.
3. Five minute overtime, followed by a shootout
  • Now this is a hot button issue. People who have seen it in the AHL have hated it, people int he ECHL have been able to live with it. I think it's a gimmick that the NHL needs right now to get the NHL better appeal and more to the casual fan on TV. Remember FoxTrax?? That was a gimmick that was able to get the NHL more TV exposure. The shootout gives a definite winner and loser of a game. And why not?? People hate ties. People don't like kissing their sister. The game is evolving and the style of game should evolve. Sticks are hardly made out of wood, it's all composite. Goalie mask has the ability to stop bullets-- you should have a true winner and loser; whatever the cost.
4. Minor penalties in regular season overtime are one-minute instead of two
  • Ok-- this is crap in my eyes. Why not just put another player out there in OT for a penalty instead of taking one off. Have a 5-on-4 powerplay and then go for it. This is just asinine to me.
5. Streamline goaltending equipment
  • I like this rule and here's why: In the past 10 years, we have seen the goalies go from 98 pound weakings to Godzilla like creatures in net-- and I'm not talking about the amazing growth spurt. You can see the goalies having huge shoulder pads and some thing bigger leg pads. There's protection of the goalie's body and then there's absuptity.
6. AHL experimental rules should be adopted
  • I'm not sure if I like the idea of the goalie box and the wider lines, but the automatic icing and the tag-up offsides is something that could be able to work. I don't know why the tag-up offsides was ever abolished in the first place.
7. Automatic Icing
  • Which I thought was covered above, but whatever. This will save ankles and leg when going back for the puck. Just ask Marco Sturm and Jarome Iginla if they like that rule.
8. Puck shot into stands in defensive zone is a two-minute penalty
  • This is an adoption of the goalie rule for shooting the puck out of the ice surface getting a delay-of-game penalty. This could be a good rule if it's just straight out of the ice surface and if they're in their own zone and shoot it out into the neutral zone.
9. Improved access for broadcast rights holders
  • If the hockey TV providers want to really bring the league into the homes of the hockey fans, then this is the way to go. The access has been very limited to ESPN, ABC, CBC, TSN, and the like. If the NHL were to improve this-- the ability to have quality broadcast night after night would be splended.
10. Improve communication and partnership at all levels of the game
  • That's what it's all about. If you can communicated and have a good relationship with your sponsors is a good way to get nice exposure from them, for them, and a good way to get them back when a contract is up is something the NHL should be salivating over. Money from sponsors would be rolling in and helping the revenue flow.
In the long run, this was a good exchange of ideas, but to have this happen, the NHL and NHLPA would have to put egos aside and get a deal done for the CBA and be able to play. In the long run, the NHL needs to heed these rules and listen so when the games finally start back up; the game will be a lot fan and viewer friendlier.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The WJC: Tale of Two Countries

The roster was announced for the World Junior Championships this week for the United States and the selection camp roster was announced for the Canadian team. Now, we'll get to the Canada scenario in a moment, but you have to let the Champs go first.

The United States of America

The United States is coming back with eight players from their World Junior Championship team of last season. Starting from the back out, Alvaro Montoya was the no brainer to be the starting goalie. His "coming out" party last season in Helsinki by taking the US team all the way to the finals and getting to the gold. His back up will be Vancouver's first rounder from 2004's Draft, Cory Schneider.

The big name on the back line is Ryan Suter. His leadership and "stay-at-home" play was able to get him to the AHL this season. However, the one thing that will be a little hinderance to him is that he's coming off a seperated shoulder he suffered in Milwaukee of the AHL. Aside from Suter, the US is touting a no-name defence with many players still in their prime of college and one player in high school. The other returning defencemen are Matt Likens, who has 8 points as of today for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and Matt Hunwick, who has 6 points for the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Up front, Team USA seems stacked. With returning players the likes of Patrick O'Sullivan, Drew Stafford, and Dan Fritsche; added with Robbie Schremp makes the US a favourite in the WJC once again. One surprise to some was the addition of Chris Bourque to the team. The Freshman out of Boston University has 12 points in 15 games and seems to be playing a higher level than most put him at. Also, with newcomers Ryan Callahan and Mike Brown thrown into the mix, the United States are very deep up front and could overpower any of their opponents. Playing in front of the home crowd in North Dakota won't hurt much either.

Team Canada

As with any team to come out of Canada, it's always who doesn't make the team rather than who does. Often, that's a problem that many people would like to have-- such is the case for Hockey Canada. However, they haven't even set a roster yet, and people are creating a buzz. First, Brent Burns and Nathan Horton were not invited to the selection camp, which bugged some people, but not too much. Horton becoming a moot point as he is now sidelined with a shoulder injury. Second, 21 out of the 32 invitees are from the Western Hockey League. Many think that coach Brent Sutter is a "homer" for the WHL, but with scouts from Quebec and Ontario saying these are the best 32 to come to the selection camp; then you can cite favouritism.

But let's start from the back out. In net, the four goalies there are Jeff Glass (Kootenay), Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat) Rejean Beauchemin (Prince Albert), and Devan Dubnyk (Kamloops). Both Dubnyk and Beauchemin attended the summer camp for Hockey Canada, but numbers wise, Nastiuk and Glass have out played them both. One odd exception was Seattle goalie Bryan Bridges who is leading all goalies this season in goals-against and save percentage. One tell-tale sign is that this is his first big season of his junior career.

In the blue line, the Canadians are as deep as any team out there. With the force of Dion Phaneuf, Cam Barker, and Brent Seabrook, combined with the speed of Shaun Belle and the smarts of Mike Green; the Canadians could very well shut down their opponents without having any of the goalies worry about keeping a lead.

To gain the lead, the Canadians could very well get a lead and start piling it on. Returnees Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlef, and Nigel Dawes will lead the way. However, the team has so many sharpshooters invited, it'll be hard to cut anyone on the team. Players like Ryan Stone and Eric Fehr of Brandon could be cut because of players like David Bolland and Corey Perry of London out playing them. The depth of the Canadians upfront is something that any team would crave, but it's also a bitter pill to take if you can't make the right decisions.

In either case, like always-- the United States and Canada are going to be the favourites of this WJC and why shouldn't they. The Canadians are coming off two silver medals and the US is coming off their first medal, which was a gold, last season. Don't forget about the Russians and Alexander Ovechkin, but I think the Russians will be overpowered by these two North American squads.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Tale of two games, two eras

First off, god bless Canadian television for playing hockey games on the tube. It was that or "Will & Grace" and I know I would have thrown a brick at the TV.

Anywho, I was watching TSN and the St. John's Maple Leafs were playing the Binghamton Senators. The AHL had put rules into play which would.....I guess you could say, redefine the game as we know it. They have wider lines and markings where the goalies can't play the puck. Frankly, I'd like to see the goalie tether put into play and have that work as a restriction to the goalies wandering. Of course, we could only hope for that.

You can't really notice the difference of the lines on the fly. You have to wait until the play stops to see that the players look like shrimps out there compared to the lines. I don't know how they've been working so far, but I haven't heard much bitching yet. Of course, the other things the people aren't too fond of:

  1. The Shootout: People don't like it because they'd rather see a tie to end a game. Now I'm not saying that it should be used all whilly nilly, but I think it's a good way to end a game. The thing the AHL and all leagues that use a shootout need to do is to extend the overtime period. Five minutes isn't enough to decide a winner in a tie. Make it 10 or even 15, then go to a shootout; it'll be appreciated more.
  2. Automatic Icing: Now here's one for the people who don't want to see someone break their ankle. As much as it's a good safety rule; it will kill the flow of a game in the long run. Plus, it could slow a game down which, to that point, was nice and exciting. Call me crazy, but I'm not sold on it yet.
  3. The Goalie Boundry: If you haven't seen it, the basis of it is that there are two lines caddycorner from the net and that's where the goalie can play the puck. Anything outside that would be 2 minutes for delay of game. This brings me back to my goalie tether idea; it'll cut down on the roaming of the goalies and create excitement and anticipation for the goalie to bust their ass.
Now, that's just what I'm thinking-- you can make your own assumption.

After that game was done on TSN, I flipped to Sportsnet to see Game One of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and the Boston Bruins from Boston Gardens.

Talk about the return to bliss. The Gardens was probably the most unique arena of its decades and decades of standing. Not to mention, the small ice and all the atmosphere that comes with it. But that was not the only thing I saw and loved:

  • The small neutral zone
  • The tag-up offsides rule
  • Small goalie equipment
  • Andy Moog and Bill Ranford's mask
  • Cam Neely in a Bruin's jerseys
  • Zdeno Ciger's space helmet
All of that was golden back in the day. The whole world seemed right. Then the NHL got too technical for its own good and then they put the cart before the horse and it's a crap product now. If that can be changed either one way or another, the the sport could become a "major" sport again.

But, you can't live in the past and with this case-- you can hope it repeats itself for the betterment of the game.

This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!

Welcome to the FOHS

Well, it seems you have stumbled over the home of the Face Off Hockey Show, a web based internet radio show. From time to time, the host will come around and add in their two cents about what's going on in the hockey world.

So, sit back, enjoy, and listen to us all the time at the Face Off Hockey Show