Archive for August, 2012

Hasek and Huet eye return to NHL

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Dominik Hasek wants to return to the NHL

Once upon a time with the Buffalo Sabres, Dominik Hasek was the best goaltender on the planet, but not even he expects a return that multiple Vezina Trophy-winning form at the ripe old age of 47. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

Will goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Cristobal Huet actually return to the NHL and can they really play goal in the game’s best league despite their advancing years and seasons spent overseas? They think so.

Hasek, the 47-year-old former all-world goalie who Ken Campbell of The Hockey News last month ranked as the top European born player of all time, and Huet, who will be 36 in September and was really a journeyman (albeit a well-paid one), have both sought to return to North America and are hoping some team will consider giving them a chance.

We tend to think of the post-lockout NHL as a young man’s league, with many of its top stars achieving that status in their early 20s, if not as teenagers. And then you have to pause and consider the great seasons that some older players logged in 2011-12. Teemu Selanne had another productive season at 41 and is coming back for more. Ray Whitney at 39 had a terrific campaign with the Coyotes, earning a Second Team All-Star selection — and a new UFA contract with Dallas. Daniel Alfredsson, who will turn 40 in December, continues to lead the Senators as their top rightwinger.  Nick Lidstrom, who turned 41 in April, was in the discussion for the Norris Trophy in his final NHL season. And after a three-year absence from the NHL, 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr played well enough for the Flyers that the Stars gave him a UFA deal this summer.

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  • Published On Aug 09, 2012
  • What is Hockey Related Revenue?

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    By Stu Hackel

    The CBA talks continue this week with most of the early discussions focusing on non-economic issues. As Jesse Spector outlined for The Sporting News, the two sides are making progress, especially on health and safety issues where NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the owners and players had “a lot of common ground.”

    Daly added, “I’ve said this before and I believe it – I feel like we’re in a real negotiation process. I’m not sure I always felt that way in 2004. So, I would distinguish this somewhat from that.”

    When it comes to the issues on which the ground won’t be so common, the NHLPA’s Mathieu Schneider said that the union was “closer” to making a counter-proposal, “but I still don’t have a time frame,” as its staff plows through the 76,000 pages of audited team financials the league handed over last week. Things may pick up when Don Fehr returns from addressing European players and joins the talks on Thursday.

    One of the areas we’ve heard and will hear a great deal about in these negotiations is Hockey Related Revenue (HRR). This is a good time to delve into that definition so we have a better grasp of what the NHL and NHLPA will be wrasslin’ about.

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  • Published On Aug 08, 2012
  • Devils again at a crossroads?

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    Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek is in danger of defaulting on a $40 million loan.

    Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek, here with Patrik Elias, has been on thin financial ice for some time. (AP Photos)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is time running out for Jeff Vanderbeek’s ownership of the New Jersey Devils? He owes his chief creditor something approaching $80 million, he’s facing a deadline a week from now to fork over a big chunk of it — about $40 million — and, according to one report, he’s only raised half of what he’s promised to pay. Just like Greg Jamison, who is $20 million short of being able to afford to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, Vanderbeek too may come up shy of what he needs to maintain control of his club. If that’s true, the Eastern Conference Champions could be in for some troubled times.

    According to a source who spoke with Josh Kosman in The New York Post, Vanderbeek doesn’t have the money. He “had worked out a deal to raise a certain amount and has not been able to do that.” Another source told Kosman that the Devils chairman and managing partner “has not given up,” and expressed confidence that Vanderbeek would come up with the $20 million and work out a solution to maintain control of the club.

    Kosman’s reporting on the Devils’ finances in the past has been questionable; he wrote last September the team was either in or near bankruptcy after a source told him “The Devils are blowing up.” Kosman was forced to backpedal after he overstated the team’s plight at that time.

    But that doesn’t mean the Devils were — or are — financially robust. It can’t be denied that they have walked a very thin financial tightrope during the last year.

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  • Published On Aug 07, 2012
  • Are ad logos coming to NHL sweaters?

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    An insurance company logo adorns the sweaters of the Connecticut Whale, the AHL farm club of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The news late last month that the NBA had tentatively approved a plan to put advertising patches on players’ game jerseys for the 2013-14  season should serve as a warning to North American hockey fans that there’s a decent chance we’ll see something similar adopted by the NHL during the next few years.

    Ads on hockey jerseys are not new. We see them in minor pro and especially in European leagues, where the sweaters have so many ad logos on them that the players look like race cars on skates. But the four major North American pro sports have always bowed to tradition and respected fans by not festooning their heroes — even though the environments that surround them, both in the arena and on TV, are increasingly commercialized, sometimes to a claustrophobic extent.

    Now it seems as if the last barrier will fall in one major league and the others may not be far behind.

    First a bit of background: The NBA has not yet officially decided that the patches — 2.5-inch squares  — will be on jerseys. What the league did was discuss the matter at its most recent Board of Governors meeting in July. NBA.com blogger Scott Howard-Cooper wrote that, “While no vote was taken on putting advertisements on jerseys for the first time, the discussion in the ballroom inside the Encore hotel on the (Las Vegas) Strip showed a strong preference to move forward, deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. The final decision will likely come in an e-mail vote in September and be implemented for 2013-14, giving teams the chance to line up sponsors and uniform makers the time to add the patch of 2-½ inches-by-2-½  just above the heart.”

    A dubious placement, eh?

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  • Published On Aug 06, 2012
  • P.K. Subban rumors overblown

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    NHL free agent P.K. Subban of the Canadiens in negotiating a new contract.

    Defenseman P.K. Subban is a desirable restricted free agent, but the Canadiens are not an easy franchise to raid. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Among the most buzz-y stories this week has been the plight of Pernell Karl Subban, the Canadiens’ restricted free agent defenseman who remains unsigned. It’s worth questioning, however, if this story is worth all the buzz, although almost everything involving P.K. grabs the hockey world by the lapels and screams for attention, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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  • Published On Aug 03, 2012
  • Is Fehr putting heat on the NHL?

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    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks ot the media after a CBA session.

    NHLPA strategy may be behind Commissioner Gary Bettman’s seeming impatience with the progress of CBA talks. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Where are we after a month of collective bargaining talks between the NHL’s owners and players? No closer to learning whether the season will start on Oct. 11, but this week’s turn of the calendar page is a good time to sharpen our focus on what we do know.

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  • Published On Aug 02, 2012
  • Sens fans relieved by Alfredsson’s return

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    Veteran Daniel Alfredsson leads a young Senators squad that gave the favored Rangers a tussle in the playoffs. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    If it was listening, amid the clatter coming from the London Olympics and the anxiety from the CBA talks in New York, the entire hockey world heard a gigantic sigh of relief in Ottawa on Tuesday when the Senators announced that their captain Daniel Alfredsson will return for his 17th NHL season.

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  • Published On Aug 01, 2012


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