Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mad Men: Best show on planet signs on for at least 2 more seasons

The creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, has signed a long-term deal with AMC and Lionsgate for 2 more seasons, and an option for a third. However, fans of the best television show on the planet are unlikely to see a new show before early 2012.

“I want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support.” said Weiner in a press release. “I also want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning. I’m excited to get started on the next chapter of our story.”

The deal was said to be worth $30 million, one of the biggest payouts of its kind in television history. The future of the show was in doubt when the fourth season ended and Weiner’s contract expired. Weiner said that AMC was insisting on cuts to the cast and length of each episode in favor of more ad time. Under the new deal, shorter episodes are possible, although the first and last episodes of each season will remain 47 minutes.

In case you're counting, “Mad Men” has made television history as the only cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama and the Golden Globe for Best Television Series-Drama for three consecutive years.

If there's a better show on television, I don't know what it is.

Empire State of Mistake - Jay-Z Wanders a bit too far

According to CBSsports.com, the NBAis investigating Jay-Z's presence in Kentucky's locker room after the Wildcats clinched a Final Four berth.

The rapper visited the players after their victory over North Carolina on Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J, home of the Nets. Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets.

NBA rules prohibit team personnel from having contact with players who are not yet draft eligible.

Seems harmless enough and Jay-Z will probably get off with a fine and also be forced to sing his next song alone.

Globe and Mail Reports That Goldwater Won't Budge

David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail is reporting that watchdog Goldwater won't budge on the Hulsizer bond deal.

The bonds were going to be paid back from parking revenue. Goldwater wrote that the Yankees have a similar deal, but its parking revenue is 40% below projections. If the Yankees are having difficulties, that's not a "promising indicator" for the Coyotes.

Radio Clip: AJ and I Talk About Everything (It Seems)

AJ and I were so happy to be talking to each other that we didn't really stop talking. Was also great to see the big time producer Matt back in his chair where he belongs. He's clearly the show.

Here's what we covered:

1) My trip to Cuba and my unrelenting tan.

2) AJ (color man) forgetting his glasses for a big hockey game.

3) The raw emotion of the Millionaire Matchmaker.

4) The raw emotion of the Millionaire Matchmaker marathon.

5) How I really like the Millionaire Matchmaker and how that makes me weird.

6) Scott Gomez and his being a Neutral Zone Specialist that is being paid $1.14 million per goal.

7) NFL Labor

8) Barry Bonds

9) MLB and its success exploiting different revenue streams

10) Cleveland Brown fan suing the NFL

11) NBA Lockout

Here are the clips:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=859068642527&oid=254660295467&comments&ref=mf
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=859069750307&oid=254660295467&comments&ref=mf

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are Sacramento Kings on the Move & Trademark Applications Filed For "Royals"

On March 29, 2011, the Anaheim City Council unanimously approved a $75 million bond deal to entice the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Orange County. The bonds would be funded by private investors and repaid by arena revenue. The Kings must file for relocation by April 18.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tail repeatedly emphasized the city has no financial risk in the deal. This is likely a reaction to the Phoenix Coyotes/Glendale bond situation, where the bonds have been so downgraded that they present a risk for taxpayers in the eyes of Goldwater, a watchdog seeking to block the transaction.

I've reviewed the U.S. trademarks database and see 4 pending trademark applications for proposed team names, all of which contain the term "Royals". These applications were filed on March 3. Here are the names:

ANAHEIM ROYALS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES ROYALS

ORANGE COUNTY ROYALS

ANAHEIM ROYALS

Here's the trademark application for ANAHEIM ROYALS:



The Basics on the Brady Bunch Brief

In the case of Tom Brady et al. vs. NFL, the players filed their brief on Monday. In it, the players are asking the Court to end the NFL lockout on the basis that it is contrary to antitrust (or competition) laws. Click here to access a full copy of the brief.

The Skinny Part 1


In response, the players have argued that the NFL owners agreed as part of the settlement last time around in 1993 that it would not challenge decertification (or technically disclaiming interest).

According to the players, that means that the NFL can't now argue that decertfication is a “sham”.

The Skinny Part 2

The NFL argued that the Court cannot rule until the labor board (NLRB) rules on whether decertification is a sham.

In response, the players have argued that the Court can and should rule now and that it doesn't need to wait for the labor board to make its decision. 

In support, the players argued that the last time around in a similar situation, the Court decided that it did not have to wait for the decision of the NLRB. 

Bottom line on all this: the players are arguing this was all fine last time around, and the NFL even agreed not to challenge decertification - so the lockout should be lifted.

Diggin' Deeper

The players have argued that they gave up a lot when they disclaimed the union and it's not a sham:
By disclaiming their union, the Players have given up the right to strike, to collectively bargain, to have union representation in grievances, to have union representation in benefits determinations, and to have union regulation of agents. The Players sacrificed these labor law rights for one reason: to gain the ability to assert antitrust claims against anticompetitive restrictions imposed by Defendants. Every court presented with this issue...has stated that if players decide to end their union, the non-statutory labor exemption also ends. It is established law that a union can renounce collective bargaining to enable its workers to protect themselves from antitrust violations.
It was also argued that last time around, disclaiming interest wasn't found to be a sham:
Defendants argue that the NFLPA’s disclaimer is a “sham.” On virtually identical facts, this Court rejected that argument in McNeil. The NFLPA disclaimed union representation and the majority of Players voted to end the NFLPA’s status as their bargaining representative, exactly the same actions that were found sufficient in McNeil.
The NFL can't force the players to remain unionized:
Moreover, employers cannot force employees to remain a union. Section 7 of the NLRA unequivocally provides that “[e]mployees shall have the right to selforganization, . . . to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, . . . and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities..."
The players also state that the NFL waived its right to argue that disclaiming the union is a sham as part of the last settlement agreement:
Defendants ... unequivocally waived their purported “sham” defense in connection with settling White.

Defendants assert their waiver applies only “when the players’ decision ‘to end the collective bargaining status of the NFLPA’ is made ‘at or any time [] after’ the ‘express term’ of the CBA.”...This is what happened here. A majority of Players indicated they wished to end the NFLPA’s union status as of eight hours prior to expiration of the CBA – an unequivocal and continuous disclaimer effective “at” and “after” the CBA’s expiration.
On the issue of waiting for the labor board to make its decision, the players noted as follows:
[T]his Court held that...a court is empowered to enjoin antitrust violations directed at a player market where, as here, there is no competing labor law policy at issue because the collective bargaining relationship has ended.
...There is thus no basis for this Court to delay its decision on preliminary relief – while Plaintiffs suffer ongoing, irreparable harm – to await resolution of a NLRB proceeding that may never be initiated, could take years to conclude, and cannot resolve any of the legal issues within this Court’s exclusive jurisdiction.
The hearing is set for April 6 and don't expect the players to negotiate before then.

If you have any questions, I'm happy to address.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Hockey Violence: High School Game

Keller High School defeated Arlington Martin, 9-3, to win the Texas State Championship.

However, at the end of the game, a brawl broke out. This is high school hockey.

At the 1:01 mark, a Keller player delivered a blindside hit on an opponent resulting in a grade 3 concussion.

These mongrels were raised to do things like this. I cannot fathom seeing how parents would allow their gunpowder-fed boys engaging in this level of sick “sport.” The professionals in the NHL are a bit dumb, too, because…they fight simply for ratings. It’s stupid. But on the Texas high school hockey level, this is beyond belief. If I walked down from the stands and clocked the hockey coach, that would be a felony. This happens? And it’s “sport.”
This is yet another instance of hockey violence that brings into question the credibility of the sport.

As for the blindside hit, in my opinion it is not unreasonable to consider whether it is a crime (i.e., assault). That hit cannot be said to be incidental contact that players believe is part of the game, and it does seem that the player was headhunting.



I've said it before and I will say it again: we have evolved past this stuff and it's time for hockey, starting with its leader, the NHL, to stamp out fighting and violence on the ice. Agreed - no easy feat as it requires a cultural change. However, we're better than this and hockey is better than this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ex Testifies Of Changes in Bonds

According to the USA Today, Barry Bonds' former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, said he told her about his use of steroids around 1999 and also testified he underwent several physical and personality changes linked to the drugs starting at that time. Bell testified that Bonds became increasingly aggressive, lost his hair, developed acne and suffered from impotence.

Expos Players Reflect Back on 94 Season

"It was the best team I ever managed ... no question about it. The only thing that could defeat that team was a strike." Felipe Alou said of the 1994 Expos team.
A handful of players from the 1994 Montreal Expos were in attendance at the Habs game this past Saturday night.

Pedro Martinez, Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, John Wetteland, Marquis Grissom, Denis Boucher, Lenny Webster, Mel Rojas, Wil Cordero and Moises Alou, along with manager Felipe Alou and general manager Kevin Malone were at the game as part of an event organized by former minority owner Mark Routtenberg.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Sportsbiz Quick Hits: Around the Web in 80 Seconds

All-Star Economics for NHL: While hockey fans generally don't love the NHL All-Star Game, the economic benefits are clear. The 2011 extravaganza generated an estimated $11.4 million in visitor spending for Raleigh and Wake County. The weekend also produced $49 million is media value for the city.

It brought an estimated 18,900 visitors from outside the Triangle to the area and generated 10,551 hotel room nights. Total attendance figures, including both local and out-of-town attendees, for the weekend's events were estimated to be 138,000.

Banking on New Olympic Sponsor: Citi has signed a deal to become the official bank of NBC and the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2012 London Games after signing a media-driven deal valued at $30 million.

Over Under: Under Armour has signed a 5 year deal to provide jerseys and other team apparel to Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. The deal is valued at $81 million.

AFL Continues Recovery: The Arena Football League is back for its second season after emerging from bankruptcy, where the league was purchased for $6 million. The league has 18 teams, with 2 teams relocated. Bon Jovi is no longer an owner, while TB Lightning owner Jeff Vinik owns the TB Storm. The league is in Week 3.

Founded in 1987 by Jim Foster, the AFL played 22 seasons from 1987 to 2008 before large debts forced the league to suspend operations in search of a more profitable business model. In December 2008 the league's owners canceled the 2009 season to begin work on developing a long-term plan to improve its economic model. Unable to agree upon a viable economic plan for the future of the league, the AFL suspended operations indefinitely on August 4, 2009, with Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation following in December of that year.

Doing It For Damon: Red Sox have broken ground on a new spring training facility in Fort Meyers. Scheduled to open next season, it's complete with an 11,000 seat ballpark, 6 practice fields and rehab center. No word if the facility includes a cot for Matt Damon.

Isle Seat: The Isles hockey team has released a new application for Apple devices. It gives fans access to  live game broadcasts, news, stats, videos and feature stories. The App doesn't include a link to Kevin Connolly's take on games; he's too busy as an assistant coach and draft advisor.

Expos At Habs Games: At the Habs/Capitals game in Montreal on March 26, players from the 1994 Montreal Expos team were in attendance as special guests. Who was there? Pedro Martinez, Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, John Wetteland, Marquis Grissom, Denis Boucher, Lenny Webster, Mel Rojas, Wil Cordero and Moises Alou, along with manager Felipe Alou and general manager Kevin Malone. 

The fans greeted them warmly. The only problem - it was far too short. It would have been great for the fans in attendance (I was one of them) if there was a pre-game ceremony to honor the players. Fans were left wanting more.

I didn't see Kirk Rueter at the game. It's possible, though, he just left early. No Darren Fletcher either. Word, though, is that he's still stealing second base. Was happy to see Moises Alou in his seat. Rumour was Steve Bartman took it.


NFL In Driver's Seat With TV Deals As Rights Deals Projected to Double By End Of Decade

According to a very good Sports Business Journal article, NFL media fees (TV, etc.) are predicted to double to $8 billion annually by the end of the decade. This revenue should help offset some loses associated with new stadiums. This is one reason the NFL is pushing for a greater share of revenue in CBA negotiations.

According to the article written by David Kaplan, 20 NFL teams are playing in stadiums that are new or have been substantially renovated since 1999. The NFL thought it would generate more income with these stadiums. However, that wasn't the case according to Neil Begley of Moody Investors.

"The league felt with the new stadiums there would be a tremendous upswing in pricing, and they would be fine. What happened was a little different. The elasticity in [ticket and premium-seat] pricing wasn’t as vibrant, the recession occurred, and ultimately the plan was largely a failure. As a result of that, they have been bearing a lot of the credit risk without the profit. The upshot is they would like to get a more reasonable portion of the media revenues to cover the risks they have taken.” 

According to Begley, the TV networks are prepared to pay a lot for rights. "The leagues are going to have more leverage than ever before."

Why?

David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said TV networks have relied on the NFL's big ratings to save their TV seasons. For example, “Sunday Night Football” was NBC's highest rated broadcast. As well, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was the highest-rated cable show.

"This is a really good time for the NFL to negotiate. The league has to be aware of how reliant the networks are [on] the league’s ratings.”

Rich Greenfield, a financial analyst for BTIG, relied on the NFL's TV ratings as evidence that the league’s leverage will get stronger in coming years.
 
“The NFL clearly has become more important to the TV industry each year,” Greenfield said.
 
As per Goodell, with player salaries rising faster than incremental rises in revenue, together with stadium debts, the NFL is certain to continue to push for a bigger share of revenue.

Forbes.com: MLB's Most Valuable Teams

Good article at Forbes.com on baseball's most valuable teams. Topping the list are the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers and Mets. The latter two teams are facing debt pressures (Mets owe creditors $450 million) and legal issues (Dodger owner involved in messy divorce). The gap between the Yankees and the number 2 team in value is significant and growing.

Some of the key points from the article:

1) The average MLB franchise is now worth $523 million, an all-time high and 7% more than last year.

2) All of the league’s teams rose in value except for three: the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians.

3) The gap between the Yankees and No. 2 Baltimore in 1998 was 12%. Today the Yankees are 86% more valuable than No. 2 Boston.

4) Texas Rangers are up 25% to $561 million after it was acquired from Tom Hicks in a bankruptcy court auction. The team now is much better capitalized, with an infusion of  $225 million of equity, and has a better TV deal worth $1.5 billion over 20 years. As well, the "afterglow of the team’s first World Series appearance in October will also boost sponsorship and ticket revenues this year."

5) Attendance was at 73 million, 6th all time for MLB.

6) The most profitable team was the Padres, which had an operating income of $37 million in 2010.

7) "The Padres managed to post a 90-72 record despite a payroll of just $38 million, which was the lowest in baseball. The Padres also benefited from a revenue-sharing check of more than $30 million."

8) "Problems among big-market teams caused baseball’s revenue-sharing pool to shrink last season for the first time since the new sharing system was put in place in 2002. Low-revenue teams divvied up $404 million compared to $433 million in 2009, with the Yankees writing the biggest check of $119 million. The Mets’ revenue is expected to fall further in 2011, which could dent revenue-sharing even more."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tragic: Dave Duerson's Autopsy

Dave Duerson's Autopsy Report has been released. It is extremely tragic. This comes after Mr. Duerson committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The report confirms that the 50-year-old Mr. Duerson "complained of memory loss and inability to spell" before his death, and had asked his family to donate his brain to the NFL Brain Bank. The New York Times reported in February that Mr. Duerson wanted to know if he had the degenerative disease tied to depression, dementia and suicide.

Bonds: Copy of the Amended Indictment & Talking Perjury


The document sets out 4 counts of perjury and 1 count of obstruction of justice. Three of the 4 perjury counts relate Bonds denying he took steroids or HGH.

One of the counts (Count 2), however, refers to Bonds' denial that Anderson injected him. So this count, unlike the others, doesn't require that the prosecution show that Bonds was injected with steroids or HGH and that he knowingly lied about it. The prosecution just needs to show that Bonds was simply injected (who cares with what) and that he knowingly lied about it.

Charge of Perjury: Lied vs. Knowingly Lied

For the offence of perjury, the prosecution must prove not only that Bonds lied, but that he knowingly lied. This distinction between "lied" and "knowingly lied" is particularly key on the steroid counts.

To prove the steroid counts, the prosecution will need to show that Bonds took steroids and that he knowingly lied when he claimed that he did not. Even if prosecutors can establish that Bonds took steroids, Bonds cannot be convicted of perjury if he was unaware that the substances he was taking were in fact steroids. So maybe it was a lie that he took steroids because there is proof it was steroids; still that's not enough - it needs to be shown that Bonds knew he was taking steroids and he lied about it. 

This is why Bonds has said he thought he was being given flaxseed oil when it was actually steroids (the clear and cream). He's saying he didn't knowingly take steroids.

For this reason, Count 2 may be less challenging to establish in theory (assuming there is good evidence), since the prosecution only needs to show Bonds knew he was lying when he said he wasn't injected; whether he took steroids or not won't matter on this count.





Quick Legal Breakdown: NFL Attempts To Block Lockout & Copy of Legal Brief

On March 21 the NFL filed its legal brief. In seeking to convince the Court to deny the players' request to block the lockout, the NFL argued

(1) that the Union's decertification was nothing more than a sham, and

(2) that the Court should wait on ruling whether to lift the lockout until the National Labor Relations Board has made its ruling as to whether decertification is in fact a "sham" (that means the NFL is requesting that the Court stay these proceedings pending resolution of the Board's decision). Here's the NFL's amended labor claim before the Board.

If the Board doesn't like the decertification (or technically disclaiming interest), it could order the Union back to the negotiation table.


Here are some highlights from the brief:

On decertification being a sham:
The law is not so easily manipulated. One party to a collective bargaining relationship cannot, through its own tactical and unilateral conduct, instantaneously oust federal labor law or extinguish another party’s labor law rights. A union cannot, by a tactical declaration akin to the flip of a switch, transform a multiemployer bargaining unit’s lawful use of economic tools afforded it under the labor laws into an antitrust violation giving rise to treble damages and injunctive relief.
The NFL also wrote the NFL lockout “is unquestionably lawful and permitted by federal labor law” and that a "union cannot, by a tactical declaration akin to the flip of a switch, transform a multiemployer bargaining unit’s lawful use of economic tools afforded it under the labor laws into an antitrust violation giving rise to treble damages and injunctive relief".

On the sham issue, the NFL has argued that decertification violated the Union's obligation to bargain in good faith:
Under the NLRA, a union’s disclaimer of interest in collective bargaining is effective only if it was "unequivocal" and "made in good faith... Disclaimers are made in bad faith—and are therefore ineffectual and invalid—when they are done as a "tactical maneuver," ... or when the disclaimer was "obviously employed only as a measure of momentary expedience, or strategy in bargaining,"
On the request for a stay, the NFL wrote
The NLRB is now considering whether the union has purported to disclaim in order to gain a tactical bargaining advantage, rather than disclaiming unequivocally and in good faith, as the federal labor laws require. If the Board finds such a violation, it will issue an order requiring the union to return to the collective bargaining table. Under the primary jurisdiction doctrine, the Court must stay this case pending the outcome of the Board proceedings.
The Players will file their brief on March 28.




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bonds: Anderson May Be Headed For More Trouble

In Bonds’s Trainer Risks More Than Jail Time by Not Testifying, Juliet Macur of the NY Times has written a good article on the possible fate awaiting Greg Anderson. She writes that Anderson may be facing an obstruction of justice charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.

On a day that saw the opening statements made by the prosecution and defence in the Barry Bonds case, Anderson was taken into custody for refusing to testify. He already spent over year in prison for refusing to testify.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How The NHL CBA Applies to the Cooke Suspension

The NHL today suspended Matt Cooke for 10 games plus the first round of the playoffs. So that's a minimum of 14 games and possibly 17 games. Personally, I am outraged - outraged that players keep targeting Cooke's elbow with their heads. Players just keep ramming their heads into his elbow - even when  they seemingly don't see his elbow coming.

The CBA sets out the procedure for supplementary discipline. It's found at Exhibit 8 of the CBA and is entitled Procedures Relating To Commissioner Discipline. 

Section 6 of the CBA at Exhibit 8 provides a list of the factors the league will consider when determining supplementary discipline:
6. Factors In Determining Supplementary Discipline

In deciding on supplementary discipline, the following factors will be taken into account:

(a) The type of conduct involved: conduct outside of NHL rules; excessive force in contact otherwise permitted by NHL rules; and careless or accidental conduct. Players are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

(b) Injury to the opposing Player(s) involved in the incident. 
(c) The status of the offender, and specifically whether he is a "first" or "repeat" offender. Players who repeatedly violate NHL rules will be more severely punished for each new violation.

(d) The situation of the game in which the incident occurred: late in the game, lopsided score, prior events in the game.

(e) Such other factors as may be appropriate in the circumstances.
As you can see, section 6(e) provides the decision maker with the discretion to consider factors not listed in subsections 6(a) to (d). So that means that the factors set out in Section 6 are non-exhaustive.

In its press release, the NHL stated as follows:

"Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position. This isn't the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response."

Since this is likely to be the extent of the reasons provided by the NHL in support of its decision, let's break it down in keeping with the language in the CBA.

(a) "Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender": That's Section 6(c) of the CBA. Cooke's most recent suspension was for 4 games on February 9, 2011 for his hit on Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin from behind.

The CBA also defines "repeat offender" at Section 5(d) of Exhibit 8:
"[S]tatus as a "first" or "repeat" offender shall be re-determined every eighteen (18) months. For example, where a Player is suspended for the first time, he is a repeat offender if he is suspended again within eighteen (18) months of the first incident. If he is not suspended a second time within this eighteen (18) month period, he will no longer be treated as a repeat offender for disciplinary purposes
Don't forget, though, that even if a player is not a "repeat offender" as contemplated by the CBA, the NHL can still consider a player's history as per Section 6(e). So if Todd Bertuzzi delivered a headshot, while he wouldn't be considered a "repeat offender" since he's been clean for 18 months, you can bet the NHL would still consider his history.

(b) Cooke "directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position": That falls under Section 6(a), which addresses excessive force and "conduct outside of NHL rules".

Ryan McDonagh claims to be “doing all right”. So Section 6(b) didn't likely come into play. As well, when the hit occurred, the game was close so Section 6(d) didn't apply either.

Appeal Process

Section 3(g) of Exhibit 8 provides that in cases of suspensions that are six games or more, a player may appeal the decision to the Commissioner:
a Player may seek review of a disciplinary determination by the Commissioner, who will endeavor to rule promptly on any such appeal. In cases following a formal, in-person hearing, the Commissioner will apply a "de novo" standard of review.
A "de novo" standard of review means that the Commissioner would look at the case as if the earlier decision had never occurred.

Since the "judge" is the Commissioner (or a designated subordinate), Cooke shouldn't expect a different decision.

If Cooke is still not happy with the Commissioner's decision, he can take it to court. However, unless the decision is so outrageous and out in left field, he doesn't really stand a chance. A court won't interfere with the league's decision unless it feels it absolutely has no choice.

One final note: Historically, the NHL has handed out modest suspensions for headshots and arguably has not adopted sanctions designed to eliminate, or at the very least, strongly discourage, headshots and other violent acts on the ice.

If you agree with this, is it unreasonable to conclude that the NHL shares some responsibility for Cooke's latest hit?

One final note - Part 2: In 31 games this season, McDonagh is a plus 17, second on the Rangers. You might remember that Bob Gainey and the Canadiens gave up McDonagh to take on Scott Gomez and his hefty contract. The trade was Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto for McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik. Habs fans still haven't forgotten this terrible trade, where they lost the very promising 6-1, 220 pound McDonagh, who is already showing why he was drafted 12th overall in the 1st round. In a salary cap world, Gomez should have never been acquired by the Canadiens. At the time of the transaction, he had 5 years left on a contract with a yearly cap hit of $7.357. That's a lot for a player that hadn't scored more than 16 goals over the past 5 seasons, and except for 33 goals in 2005-06, never scored more than 19 goals in a season. And don't forget, by taking on that big salary, the Canadiens lost valuable cap space needed to sign other players. If the Canadiens really wanted Gomez, his cap hit was such that the team should have only given up a draft pick and not a top prospect. This is particularly the case given that the Rangers had all kinds of problems unloading Gomez.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sedin Questions Chara's hit and his Veracity

Henrik Sedin on Chara:

What are you going to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can’t give him anything,” Sedin said. “And you tell the guys [Chara] has no history, so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn’t get suspended. I don’t see the reasoning behind it. Give him at least something to show that’s not acceptable.

“I’ll tell you this: If you say that you don’t know where things are around the ice, I think you’re not telling the truth,” Sedin continued. “You play the game for 20 years, you know it’s there. It’s got to the point, you have to suspend guys if you hit the head. You have to do it even if guys say they didn’t mean to do it or it’s an accident. You have to start somewhere.”

SI also provides comments:

Would it be out of character? Not according to one guy who covered Chara in Ottawa, Le Droit’s Sylvain St-Laurent, who on the blog “La Chambre Rouge” writes that after he saw that little shove in January, “I was convinced that Chara would eventually take revenge. I rubbed shoulders with the giant defender on a daily basis for four years. I always thought he was one of the most selfish and individualistic stars in the NHL.” According to St-Laurent, Chara is someone who “does not forget easily.”

Then there’s the argument that had Chara made that same play anywhere else on the ice, it would have been a simple interference penalty. Instead, it was an unfortunate accident of geography that Pacioretty and Chara were headed for the turnbuckle. Certainly there are times when things do happen accidentally on the ice, but watching how Chara used his arm to drive Pacioretty’s head into the padded upright makes it hard to believe he didn’t know what he was doing and where he was on the ice.

http://nhl-red-light.si.com/2011/03/09/charas-hit-calls-his-character-into-question/**

NFL Imposes Lockout

According to the Associated Press, the NFL has imposed a lockout. Next step, as described below, is for the NHLPA to try and block it by way of an injunction.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Brady Bunch Moves For Injunction to Block Lockout

Ten players, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, seeking to prevent the owners from locking the players out. The players filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court immediately following decertification. The other players named in the lawsuit are Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins, Brian Robison, Osi Umenyiora, Mike Vrabel and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.

The players are seeking to block the league from locking out the players at midnight. (Click here for primer on decertification).

The strategy all along for the Union after decertification was to seek the injunction to block the lockout. The reasoning is that with the Union no longer bargaining on behalf of the players, the NFL teams can't get together, in the absence of a CBA, and impose restrictions on the players. That would be an anti-trust violation.

So the plan is to block a lockout, have the players play in the fall, all the while negotiating a new deal.

The NFL has other ideas though. It will want to lockout the players. It also wants to argue that decertification is a "sham". Don't forget the NFL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the NFL Players Association. In the complaint, it alleged that the NFLPA did not bargain in good faith as a result of its strategy to "disclaim interest" (or decertify) and file antitrust litigation against the NFL following expiration of the CBA.

The league's complaint refers to the NFLPA's past use of decertification and the fact that the Union later reformed. To that end, the complaint states: "The NFLPA's threat to use a sham disclaimer of interest after expiration of the CBA is the same tactic that it employed in 1989 when its representatives falsely swore that its disclaimer was 'permanent.'

The NFLPA is arguing that as part of the settlement of the 1993 anti-trust lawsuit, the NFL waived the right to argue that decertification is a sham.







Your Comments On Chara/Pacioretty Hit

Thank you to everyone who sent in their comments on the Chara hit on Pacioretty. To no surprise, the reactions vary. Some blame Chara, while others believe the hit was not worthy of a suspension. Offside received some great and thoughtful comments.

Ultimately, my reaction was that Chara's actions were reckless but not criminal. That means the NHL should have suspended him, but I don't see a charge of assault causing bodily harm gaining any serious traction. Please see my previous entries for my take.

Here are some of the comments:

E in North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Let me first state that I wish for a full and speedy recovery for Max Pacioretty. Secondly, I am a lifetime Bruins fan. The NHL acted in an appropriate manner by not suspending Chara for his interference hit on Max Pacioretty. It was a simple interference rub out from a defenseman that was beaten on the play. The results were very unfortunate, scary to see, and troublesome. However, if we are to put blame on anyone, I believe that the NHL is responsible for not providing a safe field of play.

Further evidence that they already knew that stanchions posed a safety risk was indicative by the testing of new padding that they engaged in during the NHL Summer Research & Development camp. In addition, every rink in the NHL has different configurations for the benches and sometimes the same rink configures the stanchions between the benches differently depending on who is broadcasting the game.

Leonard from Toronto

I agree with your position 100%. Chara has been a clean player throughout his career, but looking at the replay over and over from different angles, he clearly intentionally shoved Pacioretty's head into the turnbuckle last second. Not sure what he was thinking at the time, but the intent to injure is obvious.

The hit took place exactly 7 years after the Moore - Bertuzzi incident, but I actually see the parallel between the Chara hit with the Moore hit on Markus Naslund a few weeks prior. Naslund was in a vulnerable position and Moore stuck his elbow out last second fully knowing that he would probably get away with it (it turned out he didn't get away with it). Chara was probably thinking the same thing, a chance to injure Pacioretty and play innocent and get away with it.

Guys like Matt Cooke see Chara getting away with it they are going to run the Tavereses and the Datsyuks into the turnbuckles next chance they get. Will the League suspend them then? 

Puck Sage (this is just an excerpt)

Let’s start with the important stuff:

I was very glad to hear Max Pacioretty was moving and speaking at the hospital. In the five + seasons Zdeno Chara has been in a Boston uniform, I have bought four jerseys, one another defensemen, none of them his. I have also played sports and been knocked out, as well as having been in car accidents. In his eleven year, nearly thousand game career Zdeno Chara has been suspended, just once, for one game for an incident during a fight.

... So in review:

•No history of discipline not directly related to a fight, and none at all in the past five years.

•Chara has repeated close, personal experience with players getting bad head injury.

•Physics (speed and mass differential) dictate that contact at this point will unfavorable to Pacioretty.

•Pacioretty made the initial move towards contact.

•Despite the more than half foot of height difference with the larger player reaching down to contact, there is no head contact.

•Chara did not put his full weight, stick, body or attentioninto the contact.

•Chara was not focused on Pacioretty after contact.

While people up and down Twitter, and no doubt other social media have compared this to the Bertuzzzi incident of years ago, its hard to find any real parallel. What happened was unfortunate, no question about it. Had the hit happened three strides further back, or three strides forward no one would have noticed anything other than Chara accumulating yet another career hit. I can understand the interference call, even the major. A suspension would be curious for a routine hit, in an unfortunate location when both players are moving at full speed.

Valerie W.

As I have been processing the various comments by hockey pundits, players, fans and others, I have come up with my own position.

If I cause a car accident in which someone else is injured, I am accountable for that injury regardless of my intent.

So it is my contention that Chara should be held accountable for his actions regardless of intent (which really cannot be proven). He knew where he was on the ice and he took an action (legal or not) that resulted in an injury to another player.

His “clean hitting record” should be a consideration in the sentencing but he should be sentenced. One might argue that that is exactly what the NHL disciplinary decision was in the sense that they mentioned his clean record as a mitigating factor in their decision. But that was after stating that they didn’t see anything inherently wrong with the play itself other than the interference that was called on the ice.

One definition of accident is: “An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm”. NHL players should be held accountable for their on-ice accidents.

Will be interested in how you process all the comments you will receive. Above all this debate, let’s all put some our energy in wishing Max a full recovery.

Alexander G., Ottawa

Hope that things are going well. You've certainly been blogging pretty furiously lately...good stuff! Here are some of my thoughts on the incident.

Chara should have been suspended. What is the purpose of player discipline in sports? Is it to enforce the letter of the law? Partially, but that cannot be the only purpose. It must be broader than that; in actuality, player discipline acts as a deterrent mechanism for actions that are likely to injure other players.

In the NHL, history supports this, with three things springing to mind:

a) In the past, certain dangerous plays have resulted in discipline before there was a set in stone rule prohibiting the act (ie: shoulder to head hits); b) Historically, the extent of the injury suffered has been a factor in determining the extent of discipline; and c) Repeat offenders are traditionally punished more severely (ie: Trevor Gillies).

This shows that player discipline is more about respect for the game and protection of players than it is to enforce the rulebook. With this established, we can move on to intent, the fourth, and most contentious, matter.

First, what is intent? Do we mean intent to injure? Or, is it intent to carry out the act that caused the incident? Regarding intent, I would then split incidents into three categories:

a) Intent to injure. Bobby Clarke, Dale Hunter, Marty McSorley, Tie Domi on Samulsson, etc. Intent should be an overriding consideration in these cases, and players should be severely disciplined regardless of whether the victim is seriously injured. That is, unless it helps Canada win the Summit Series;

b) Intent to perform the act, but not to injure. This is the typical case, and this is probably where the Chara hit lies; and

c) No intent to perform the act, but the act was dangerous. Marian Hossa on Bryan Berard.

For both b) and c), a more holistic approach needs to be taken. Using the deterrence/protection criteria, reckless plays that result in injury need to be punished, even if unintentional and even, sometimes, if they were OK by the book. There are times in every game where a player is exposed and the chance for a debilitating hit arises. When Pacioretty lunged for the puck, he put himself in such a position. Pacioretty did not make a stupid play - he was not skating through the neutral zone with his head down or admiring a pass - it was simply a "hockey play" that left him exposed. Perhaps because of their history, perhaps because of the rivalry, perhaps because he was frustrated with the score at the time, perhaps because that is just the way he plays, Chara hit Pacioretty in that exposed positon and broke his neck.

So, while the hit may have been legal (although it likely fits the bill for boarding), it was a dangerous play with a high likliehood of causing injury. These plays ought to be discouraged, so this alone should be enough for a fine in the least. Add in that it was intentional, in the sense that Chara intended to hit Pacioretty in his exposed position, and the extent of Pacioretty's injury, and Chara should be looking at a fairly hefty suspension.

Rant over.

Paul M., Montreal

Based on their history (Pacioretty pushed Chara after a game winner, Chara went after him, the next game Chara took Pacioretty out of the game with a 2 handed slash) and the fact that I have played hockey long enough to know that Chara knew what he was doing that Chara's hit was intentional.

Chara should have been suspended for a minimum of ten games as intention should be looked at when determining suspensions and the length of suspension. There are enough facts that show motive for Chara to want to re-injure Max Pacioretty.

A player's history should be factored in when determining a sentence, BUT just because a player has no suspension history does not down play the fact that a player with no history can not viciously injure someone.

Finally, I am tired of some of the media being so neutral and giving Chara benefit of the doubt about his intention. The facts support he had motive to hurt Pacioretty as he had already the game before with a two handed slash.

D.D., Ottawa

"History should have played absolutely no role in whether Chara was punished or not. It was either right or wrong and until that little quip comes out of the decision making process The NHL will continue to be a joke."

Just a guess but Labor Law probably has something to do with that. Most workplaces account for past behaviour or incidents when handing out discipline and when they come down too hard and an appeal is made to a court or tribunal, the complainant ends up winning.

Jordan H.
 
My comment doesn't have anything to do with the morality of the hit, nor Chara's mindset when he made the hit. My question/comment has more to do with the idea of supplemental discipline after the hit and the legality of that. Mike Murphy has come out and made a statement saying that under the rules of the NHL as it stands, he could find no basis upon which to institute supplemental discipline. Which means that there is no rule that states in black and white what to do in this situation.
 
Assuming of course that Mike Murphy is correct, and that nothing Chara did aside from the fact that it was intereference, was beyond the rules, then the NHL's hands were tied. If they had bowed to fan and corporate pressure and suspended Chara simply because it didn't look good for the league, or because they were simply trying to make a statement, absent a rule to back it up, am I not correct in assuming that the NHLPA would have then been bound by their own charter to file a grievance on behalf of Chara protesting any suspension he got?
 
It seems to me that if the NHL had decided on a suspension based upon the "immorality" of the hit, or based upon the severity of the injuries suffered by Pacioretty, that the suspension would not have stuck anyways, as the NHLPA would have immediately filed a grievance, and WON, because any ruling would have had either no basis, or a flimsy basis on the NHL rule book.
 
Justin C., Montreal (excerpt only)
 
I saw your tweet and don’t mind sharing a few thoughts on the hit…
 
For starters, yes, I’m from Montreal , and yes, I’m a HABS fan, but I believe this hit and the non-suspension affect me well beyond the limits of my fanaticism.
 
Was this a ‘hockey play’, as Mike Murphy and the NHL have decided? Sure, it happened on an ice surface and looked an awful lot like a simple angling out of a player, but the fact of the matter is that Chara deliberately guided Pacioretty face-first into a wall of glass by extending his arms to obstruct a player 30 feet from the puck. Whether ‘deliberate’ equates to ‘intentional’ is, of course, impossible to accurately ascertain, but is also completely irrelevant to what was an inherently and egregiously violent and dangerous act.
 
I had mentally prepared myself for the slap-on-the-wrist suspension I expected from the NHL on this hit (which clearly deserved more), and was shocked and appalled by the complete neglect of their responsibility as an organization with the decision not to impose any supplementary discipline whatsoever. Even if they had handed out a 1-game suspension, the NHL could have, with one simple decision, declared this type of play unacceptable by league standards. By refusing to recognize the play as being beyond the realm of reasonable physicality within a hockey game, they’ve effectively endorsed a player’s right to run others, head first, into the extremely dangerous turnbuckle partition between and at the ends of benches. They’ve established a precedent whereby this type of hit and injury can occur again with the league handcuffed as they’ve already declared it an OK hockey play.
 
Max Pacioretty narrowly escaped this so-called ‘hockey play’ alive, and the next victim of this type of hit might not be so lucky. Where does the league draw a line in the sand? When does something become too much? We saw David Booth lose a year of his career to what was deemed a clean hit by Mike Richards last year, only to see that same hit happen over and over again until finally a player with a poor reputation forced the adoption of a new rule by putting Marc Savard (perhaps permanently) out of commission.

Article VI, section 6.1 of the NHL Constitution states that the NHL Commissioner is, “charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey and preserving public confidence in the League.” Unfortunately, it appears that an underdeveloped/antiquated understanding of the former responsibility is resulting in the complete neglect of the latter, and public reaction to the hit and non-suspension to this point may be a strong enough foundation on which to challenge (barring an interjection on his part) the ability of the NHL Commissioner to adequately perform his proscribed duties.

The culture of the NHL must change before this and similar types of dangerous plays and injuries (or, God forbid, a fatality) result on the ice, and the onus must be placed on the NHL to proactively protect its most important assets (no, not the corporate sponsorships—the players). Thus far, and particularly with the most recent demonstration of complete impotence in the wake of what was clearly an unacceptable act (by criminal standards, let alone hockey standards), I for one have lost all confidence in the current regime to do so.

Andrew, Ottawa

I do not share the same outrage that many seem to have. Probably should have been a one or two game suspension to send a message, but if that hit is anywhere else on the ice, we are not having this conversation.

If a Habs player had done this, I wonder if Habs fans would be up in arms about the hit- my guess is most of them would say nothing and even go to the extent of defending their player. That is the way it is- when your team is on the receiving end, your reaction is to complain- if your team is on the giving end, you don't complain. I am not saying I agree with this attitude, it is just the way it is.

I also wonder if this had been a game between Anaheim and San Jose, whether we would be hearing as much outrage. I say we would not be. In fact, there are only two teams in Canada that would generate this reaction- Habs and Leafs- I would venture a guess that if this had happened in Ottawa, there would be more muted reaction. I doubt Air Canada would be threatening to pull sponsorship or a federal minister would be piping up (the cynic in me believes the government is only speaking up because they are so desparate for votes, they will try anything). Montreal and Toronto get treated very differently than other teams (this is the same in every sport- Red Sox and Yankees, Lakers, Knicks and Celtics etc). When something happens to one of their players, there is an expectation that everyone in the sport should be outraged. As a person who is a hockey fan, but not a fan of the Habs, I have found the reaction in the past couple of days to be a bit over the top.

I notice that the Canadiens organization and the NHLPA have both been very quiet about it. I would be curious as to why that is.

I think it is ridiculous that the police are now investigating at the request of the prosecutor. Best of luck proving intent.

The NHL has a problem- there is no doubt. If this incident gets the ball rolling for changes, great. However, I doubt it will. If the NHL is prepared to remain silent while its most marketable and best player sits out because of a questionable hit, then it certainly is not going to be persuaded to act by this incident.

NFL & NFLPA Seem Far Apart; Heated Twitter Exchange

With the CBA set to expire today, the NFL and NFLPA seem far apart. The big issue is how to split the revenue. The NFLPA says it wants the NFL to open its books.

As per NFLPA attorney Timothy Thornton, "The players should no longer be forced to have the fate of their careers decided in the dark".

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith last night said that the "financial details the NFL has offered" to the union "are insufficient," and the "information that was offered wasn't what we asked for."

If the sides don't agree to extend the CBA today, then we could well see the Union decertify.

Team 990 Radio Clip - Talking Chara with Marinaro

Here's my radio clip with Tony Marinaro from the Team 990. We talk about the crime of assault as it applies to the hit on Pacioretty and why it is unlikely that charges will materialize.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pacioretty Comments Do Not Support Criminal Action

Max Pacioretty has spoken to Louis Jean from Sportnet. Here are his comments as tweeted by Jean: 
"I sincerely appreciate all of the support that I have received since my injury. I was disappointed that the NHL did not suspend Zdeno Chara. However, I have no desire for him to be prosecuted legally

I feel that the incident, as ugly as it was, was part of a hockey game. I understand that this is not my decision. 

I have respect and admiration for the authorities in Quebec. I simply wanted to make my opinion clear".
Legal Translation 1: First, Pacioretty has said he does not support criminal charges. That means he will resist cooperating with the authorities. That in turn means they will have serious difficulties making an already difficult case.

Legal Translation 2: Pacioretty says the hit was "part of a hockey game". This sounds like it was crafted by a lawyer. In order to establish assault causing bodily harm you need to show that Chara intentionally applied force and that Pacioretty did not consent to that force.

The principle of consent is really important here in the context of Pacioretty's comments. In hockey, when you step on the ice, you consent to some form of bodily contact and harm, and the risk of injury that flows from that. The type of harm you consent to is contact that is part of the game (i.e., incidental contact).

However, you do not consent to contact that is not part of the game. For example, head hunting would not be acceptable so it's not harm a player has consented to.

So contact that is part of the game is understood to be contact that players have consented to. Contact that is not part of the game (Bertuzzi hunting down Moore) is understood to be contact players do not consent to.

In this case, Pacioretty is saying that Chara's hit was part of the game and something he consented to. That means that Pacioretty is saying in his eyes it was not a crime.

As per my radio clip below, at the outset, this was a very difficult case for the prosecution. While Chara was clearly reckless (and deserved a suspension), it is difficult to successfully argue that his hit clearly falls outside the scope of what is an acceptable hockey hit. The stanchion did cause damage, and Chara could reasonably argue that he only checked Pacioretty and it was unfortunate that the stanchion was where it was. That means you look at the incident as two separate events: the hit and the stanchion.

This wasn't Bertuzzi on Moore or McSorley on Brashear or Ciccarelli on Richardson.

A suspension would have been appropriate. Prison - I don't think so.

Open Letter from Molson To Canadiens Fans

Here is Geofff Molson's open letter to Canadiens fans regarding the Pacioretty incident. Mr. Molson is the President of the Habs. The letter notes that the issue of player safety has "reached a point of urgency", that they "do not accept any violent behavior" and that they have experienced "frustration, disappointment and shock".

NHLPA Statement On Violence

NHLPA STATEMENT

TORONTO, ON (March 10, 2011) – National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr made the following statement today:

“Player safety has always been, and continues to be, a great concern to the Players’ Association. In that regard, issues involving the boards and glass in NHL arenas have been a longstanding focus for the players. The serious nature of the injury suffered by Max Pacioretty in Montreal this week reinforces the importance of maximizing the safety in this area and highlights the need to look further into the matter. We will be inspecting the rink in Montreal, and elsewhere as needed, to make sure the appropriate padding is in place. We will continue to gather feedback from the membership, to ensure the safest possible work environment for our players.”



Radio Clip: Talking Chara, Assault & Criminal Investigation

Listen to my discussion with Steve Lloyd from the Team 1200. We break down Chara, the crime of assault and the police investigation.

Click here for the clip.

Please send me your comments on Chara/Pacioretty

Please send me your views on Chara's hit on Pacioretty at eric.macramalla@yahoo.ca. I will collect your views and feature them in an article. With all the different views, this should be interesting.

A few things to consider:

1) Was the hit intentional?

2) Should Chara have been suspended?

3) Should intention be a relevant consideration when determining whether to suspend someone in the first place, or should intention be considered when looking to adjust a suspension up or down?

4) Should a player's history matter?

Anything else you have as well. Look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pacioretty Reacts

Max Pacioretty spoke with TSN's Bob McKensie. His comments are below. On TSN, McKensie reported that Pacioretty's father broke down when he saw his son in the hospital.

Here's Pacioretty statement as per McKensie: 
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told TSN. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt."

"It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games...whatever, but something to show that it's not right."

"I heard (Chara) said he didn't mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he's talking about how I jumped up or something."

"I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."

Where's The Puck? Chara's Hit Was Late

On the heels of the NHL not suspending or fining Chara for his hit on Pacioretty, I have reproduced the image below, which provides the location of the puck when Chara hit Pacioretty. Late hit?

Hit was Late; Chara knew what he was doing - or he should have known better

This picture is from Habs Inside Out and has made its way around Twitter.

This was a cheap shot. Chara is an experienced defenceman and he knew precisely where he was on the ice when this happened. Pacioretty would have blown by Chara on the left side had Chara not plastered him.


Also this photograph suggests it was a late hit. However, the video evidence is quite compelling.

Chara's recent history with Pacioretty only makes this look worse. On January 8, after the Bruins had blown a 2-0 lead at the Bell Centre in the final minutes, Pacioretty scored in overtime. He then pushed Chara, who responded angrily and with aggression. In the next game, the aggression only continued.

Some argue that Chara is not a reckless player. Doesn't matter. He acted recklessly. The hit was late. The only thing Chara was separating Pacioretty from was a promising NHL career.

Chara referring to the hit as "unfortunate" is like saying Rosie and Donald have had a mild disagreement.

Even Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe writes that the hit is a problem in his piece entitled Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty difficult to defend.

Bottom line is that Chara knew what he was doing - or he should have known better. Either way suspend him for 15 games. However, anything above 2 games would be a surprise. There will be a suspension, though, as the NHL will not want to be seen as endorsing this type of hit, particularly with a recent cascade of violent on-ice incidents. As well, with its ongoing negotiations for a new TV deal with the U.S. networks, it will need to do something.

The NHL has repeatedly failed to set a clear standard as to what is acceptable. This won't be any different I suspect. It seems of late, we are having our stomachs turned on a regular basis with bloody and violent acts in hockey. This can't be good for the game, attempts to get a new TV deal and a move for a bigger market share in struggling markets.

In part, people are so outraged over this because they feel the NHL's indulgence of violent behaviour is a problem.

That sound of Pacioretty hitting the ice is a bunch of parents deciding to enroll their kids in something other than hockey. It's too dangerous, I hear a lot. Maybe not as much here (although some Canadian parents reluctantly keep their kids in hockey), but in markets where the game is trying to grow, parents may be looking away from hockey.

By the way, turns out Pacioretty's parents were in attendance last night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Ditch Effort To Save Coyotes

Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal has written a good article outlining the last-ditch plan that may be in the works to salvage the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer. If that plan fails, the hockey franchise could then be sold to a Canadian group who will move the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.

Good read.

If the deal falls through, the team will in all likelihood move to Winnipeg. However, Phoenix is an important market for the NHL, so don't be surprised if something is worked out.

If the Coyotes leave, the city will be left without a main tenant for its $180-million state-of-the-art arena. The league would lose the 12th largest TV market in the U.S. at a time when it is working on a new deal for American television.

LeBron Getting Sued

Accoding to Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta nightclub Opera is suing LeBron James after he didn't show for a nightclub appearance. In the complaint filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court, Opera accuses James of reneging on a promise to appear for one hour on March 17, for which he was to be paid $25,000 (so that's a breach of contract claim).

Apparently, when LeBron's teammates found out about the lawsuit, they cried.

NFLPA Retains Bank For POSSIBLE Review of NFL's Books

According to SI.com, the NFLPA has retained the services of a bank to help review financial documents the NFL might release in the ongoing labor negotiations.

All along, the NFLPA has said that the NFL taking needs to open its books if it wants to start to justify its request for an additional $1 billion off the top for operating expenses before splitting revenue with the players.

What does this mean? Unclear. Given the NFL's adamant position that it will not open its books, this move may have been done by the PA as a matter of course. On the flip side, we don't know what's been said in negotiations, so maybe the NFL may be considering agreeing to some type of financial inspection.

Overall, NFLPA Exec Committee Scott Fujita's comments suggest that, as a starting point, the bank may educate and inform the NFLPA as to what financial information it should look for.

Peter King of SI thinks the NFL may open up its books.

So nothing concrete at this point.