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Is Gary Bettman patching cracks in the NHL owners’ ranks?

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Ed Snider and Gary Bettman

Ed Snider (left) may have gotten himself into Commissioner Gary Bettman’s Le Chateau Bow-Wow after a story appeared over the weekend claiming that the powerful Flyers owner may be urging his peers to budge in CBA negotiations. (Alex Brandon/AP)

By Stu Hackel

Representatives of the owners and players are resuming their CBA talks after a 10-day lull during which nothing but bad feelings came to the surface. Take Red Wings defenseman Ian White’s poor judgment in calling Commissioner Gary Bettman “an idiot” while a reporter’s microphone was in front of him: The commissioner may be lots of things, but idiot isn’t one of them.

Few people, if any, feel badly for Bettman, although he’s the guy who gets most the heat, most recently over the weekend in the online magazine Grantland, where Bill Simmons artfully savaged the commissioner, even imagining him squirming during impeachment hearings (“‘So you allowed John Spano to buy the Islanders without any money because … why?’ That would be the best courtroom TV since the O.J. trial.”). Despite a few inaccuracies, it’s currently Grantland’s most-read story, maybe because it also includes his Week 12 NFL picks.

By comparison, the owners whose dirty work Bettman does receive very little abuse. “Question to you is would you do what he does for 8 million dollars a year?” Coyotes winger Paul Bissonette wondered on Twitter earlier today. Yes, it’s a hell of a way to make a living, but it’s a very good living.

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  • Published On Nov 19, 2012
  • NHL lockout shrouded in fog

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    So much now, from the sites of the CBA meetings and what’s being discussed to each owner’s real views, is unclear. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Just like the talks that took place over the weekend, secrecy persists when it comes to the exact location of the CBA sessions in New York on Tuesday that began in mid-afternoon. No formal press briefings are expected as the sides take a shot at trying to hammer away at the logjam that for weeks has dammed the NHL’s attempt at negotiating a new contract with its players.

    [UPDATE: The sides met for over seven hours on Tuesday and plan to meet again on Wednesday, a sign that real bargaining might be occurring for the first time since the sides began meeting in July. Here's the Canadian Press story on Tuesday's talks, after which neither side provided statements to reporters. Helene Eilliott of The Los Angeles Times reported, "People familiar with the nature of the talks but not authorized to speak publicly said progress had been made, but both sides declined to describe specifics of the sessions, which were attended by top executives of both sides as well as 13 players and several owners." Pierre LeBrun on ESPN.com cautioned, "Let’s not carried away here. This thing can still go sideways and implode. It’s still too early to call." ]

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  • Published On Nov 06, 2012
  • NHL owners: lockout mystery men

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    Ted Leonsis and Alex Ovechkin

    Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is widely rumored to be in the group of hardline owners who are prolonging the lockout, but is he really trying to get out from under the fat deal he gave Alex Ovechkin? (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    On Wednesday’s blog post, we touched on the unity of the players and their rising anger level during the lockout. It prompted a comment regarding the unity of the owners. “You write about the possibility of players getting angry but what about the owners?” asked the reader who goes by JamesLandonJones. “How long until the owners in small or non-traditional hockey markets, or with otherwise shallow pockets and bills to pay, begin to apply pressure on Bettman? If this happens, where will the cracks first appear? How long before it begins? Has it already begun? Fehr has shown great skill and foresight in rallying his union. Does Bettman have the necessary skills to do the same with ownership?”

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  • Published On Nov 01, 2012
  • Giroux’s hit on Zubrus gives Shanahan second chance to get ruling right

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    Though Dainius Zubrus of the Devils ultimately wasn’t injured, the headshot he received from Claude Giroux (not pictured) was egregious enough to merit a disciplinary hearing. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Will the NHL show courage and suspend Claude Giroux for Game 5 of the Flyers’ series against the Devils? A disciplinary hearing took place on Monday morning and Giroux certainly deserves a ban for targeting the head of the Devils’ Dainius Zubrus late in the second period of Sunday’s Game 4, which New Jersey won, 4-2, to push Philadelphia to the brink of elimination. But to remove Philly’s best player from the lineup in a potential elimination game would be a bold a move for Brendan Shanahan and the league’s Department of Player Safety. It would, however, show that they’ve learned from an earlier mistake.

    UPDATED: The NHL has suspended Giroux for one game. Here is the league’s statement and Shanahan’s video explanation.

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  • Published On May 07, 2012
  • Winter Classic foes continue their historic rivalry

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    The Flyers and Rangers have been at each other’s throats since the days of Dave Schultz and Philly’s infamous Broad Street Bullies. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    After months of buildup and promotion, the Winter Classic is finally upon us. It is, of course, nothing more than Game 569 of the regular season schedule, worth the same two points in the standings as any other game — or (sigh) two for the winner and one for the loser if it ends in a regulation tie.

    But the exposure and popularity this unique game has brought to hockey during the past four years can’t — and shouldn’t — be denied. For that we must credit the NHL’s partnership with NBC. Their deal may be far less lucrative for the league’s teams than the ones enjoyed by other major pro sports, but it’s the best the league has ever had, especially because
    NBC and its offshoots respect the product and help create new ways to expose it.

    The same can be said for the NHL’s deal with HBO which, through its”24/7″ series, provides an unprecedented look at the run-up to the game. Nothing has ever come close to bringing viewers inside the NHL as it really is, looks and sounds.

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  • Published On Dec 30, 2011
  • Chris Chelios tops stellar USA Hockey Hall class; Lokomotiv returns

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    Chris Chelios’ resume more than stacks up against any other American-born player. (Frank Gunn/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is Chris Chelios the greatest American-born player in hockey history? Good question. Perhaps he is.

    Chelios will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony in his hometown of Chicago tonight, and he’s among a truly stellar group of inductees — perhaps the best class ever for this Hall — that includes the highly underrated defenseman Gary Suter, power forward Keith Tkachuk, broadcaster Mike Emrick and Flyers owner Ed Snider.

    In The Chicago Tribune today, Steve Rosenbloom makes the case for Chelios as the best player ever produced in the U.S., admitting that while he wasn’t the greatest skater, passer, stickhandler or shooter, no one has ever combined skill, smarts, leadership, toughness and longevity the way Chelios did.

    Rosenbloom elaborates on this — it’s worth reading — and makes a very strong case for Chelly.

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  • Published On Dec 12, 2011


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