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Conflicting reports about NHL CBA talks as beer sponsor brouha comes to a head

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Geoff Molson

Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson has plenty at stake in the NHL lockout: his team’s finances and those of his family’s brewing company, which is a major sponsor of the league. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

CBA talks continued on Thursday afternoon somewhere in New York  — not to be confused with John Lennon’s fifth post-Beatles album Some Time in New York – and Kevin Allen of USA Today tweeted on Wednesday that he was “at an undisclosed location covering NHL negotiations going on at a different undisclosed location. Feel sorry for those in known locations.”

Regardless of where they’re talking, reporters still have their sources feeding them information on what is being discussed and how things are going despite pledges by both sides to conduct this business in silence and not make the lead negotiators available for press briefings. Of course, those sources all have their own perspectives, if not their own agendas, so we get varying notions of what has transpired.

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  • Published On Nov 08, 2012
  • A hard time to be a hockey fan

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    Canadiens fans can bid adieu to the stirring Centennial Plaza with its statues of Habs greats such as Jean Beliveau outside the Bell Centre as the site becomes home to pricey high-rise condominiums. (Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    While there are other hockey stories to discuss — the start of salary arbitration hearings (T.J. Oshie and Sam Gagner are up first on Friday), the Capitals signing Mike Green to a three-year $18.25 million deal, Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec convicted of drunk driving in the Czech Republic, the sale of the Coyotes clearing a hurdle with the failure of petitioners to force the team’s arena lease agreement to a public referendum — it’s hard to avoid the CBA talks, which resume on Wednesday in New York. With team owners submitting a first proposal that the players will never accept, the clock is now ticking toward what many believe will be a lockout-shortened season — if not an entirely lost one.

    Yes, we’ve been down this road before, not very long ago. It was a painful path, especially for those who work in the hockey business. But it was no fun either for those whose spending makes that business possible: the fans.

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  • Published On Jul 17, 2012
  • What now for the Canadiens?

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    Owner Geoff Molson’s command performance at his Thursday press conference should give Canadiens fans some hope, but much needs to be done to restore Montreal’s proud old franchise. (Oliver Jean/Reuters)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Montreal Canadiens will set a franchise record for most losses this season and could finish last in the Eastern Conference for the first time, so it was expected that GM Pierre Gauthier would be out of a job. The timing is curious, though, with five games left in the regular campaign. But during a season when Gauthier fired an assistant coach minutes before a game, traded a player during a game, and dismissed the head coach on a game day, it is perhaps fitting that the GM himself was relieved of his duties when he was.

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  • Published On Mar 29, 2012
  • LIVE BLOGGING Trade Deadline 2012

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    Rick Nash, at the center of this year’s deadline intrigue, will not be going anywhere until the summer. (Kathy Willens/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    5 PM: Well, let’s try to wrap this up. Not many trades. The biggest news might be who didn’t get moved and not just Nash. Also lots of guys rumored to be moving stayed up, which speaks to our general thinking about rumors. (Cue Marvin Gaye singing “People say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear” From “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”) But the Vancouver-Buffalo deal, Hodgson for Kassian was a big one, and because the players are so young, it may have reverberations for seasons to come.

    We’ll let the dust settle here and take a look at this whole thing tomorrow here on Red Light and see what has changed, what hasn’t and what it might mean. Thanks for hanging with us, and lots of you did. It was fun.

    4:46 PM: New NYR defenseman/forward/pugalist John Scott says (per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune tweet). “I thought I’d be the last person to get traded. I’m excited to go to New York but also sad to leave Chicago. I just had a baby a couple of months ago. It will be tough to pack up and leave everything.”

    4:44 PM: NHLN’s E.J. Hradek tweets, “Howson comment likely spurred by the Saturday remarks by Nash agent Joe Resnick, which was an effort 2 squeeze the team into making deal now”

    4:42 PM: SI’s Sarah Kwak tweets, “Howson admitting Nash asked for trade opens up more options for trade later. Nash won’t nix very much to get outta there now.”

    4:32 PM: Quite a statement by Scott Howson that Rick Nash asked to be traded. Never heard that before, in fact, the thinking was Nash would never make that request. Now Nash has to be captain of a team that he wanted to leave? Jeez, that’s not a good situation.

    4:29 PM: For Red Wings fans, George Malik of Kukla’s Korner linked to GM Ken Holland interview http://dlvr.it/1FlmRy

    4:25 PM: Howson won’t say how many teams made offers for Nash, only that he had “substantial” discussions today. “The price was high. I don’t apologize for that. It had to be high.”

    4:21 PM: Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson addressing media says they made big steps this week. Regarding Nash, he had approached the CBJ to consider trading him. Howson said what was offered was not in team’s best interest. “We will continue to keep all our options open to improve our hockey club in the coming months.”

    4:19 PM: Pittsburgh GM Shero: “We were not active today. Nobody going, nobody coming. Our roster is our roster going forward”

    4:15 PM: Chicago GM Stan Bowman on Oduya: “His style really fits in with what we do here.”

    4:14 PM: From Mike Farber: “The Winnipeg Jets took a piece off their roster in D-man Johnny Oduya, but he is able to walk as a UFA after the season. Great pick-up of a pair of draft choices. Winnipeg is in a unique position. The Jets are playing with house money. Maybe they make the playoffs. Maybe not. But in either case, they gave added nicely to their inventory. “

    4:10 PM You can’t discount the fact that the deals that have been made earlier this month have had an impact. Nor can you dismiss the ongoing importance of the salary cap in keeping some teams from making deals, and the financial restrictions other teams have.

    4:08 PM: Plus, some teams did make some very interesting moves that change their team going forward. And more will be done around the draft.

    4:04 PM:  There are 14 trades confirmed so far today, certainly less than some of the crazier days in the last few years. Lots of talk that the day is overhyped (Jay Feaster just said that in his press conf. and Brian Burke has implied it as well), that there are too many teams asking for unrealisitic prices, over valuing players, which is why the deals don’t get made. But it’s also about parity in the league, GMs not wanting to break up the chemistry on their teams.

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  • Published On Feb 27, 2012
  • Coaching in Montreal presents unique demands

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    Randy Cunneyworth, the Canadiens’ interim coach is probably glad to be on a six-game road trip as it takes him out of the firestorm his hiring sparked in Montreal. (Photo by Brian Jenkins/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Fewer and fewer things in this world make sense, it seems, especially at first glance. The real essence of stuff often lies beneath the surface, requiring examination and context to become clear. The appointment of Randy Cunneyworth as coach of the Montreal Canadiens and the outcry among Quebec’s Francophone majority because he cannot speak French qualifies as one of those things.
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  • Published On Dec 20, 2011
  • Sale of Maple Leafs creates Canadian media colossus

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    Air Canada Centre, home of the Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Raptors, is just one piece of a $1.3 billion transaction, the largest in North American sports history. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    With much talk about content and iconic brands, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) was sold today by its longtime majority shareholder, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (or “Teachers,” as it is commonly called), to a partnership formed by two competing media conglomerates, Bell Canada/BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications, and the current minority owner, Larry Tanenbaum.

    Just how this will impact the Maple Leafs, the NHL’s most profitable club and crown jewel of the empire, as well as the other MLSE clubs — the NBA’s Raptors, the MLS Toronto FC, and the AHL’s Marlies — is an open question.  There is much skepticism in Toronto that the new ownership of the Maple Leafs’ parent company will translate into a championship. More than one observer noted that there was hardly a mention of the Stanley Cup during today’s press conference announcing the billion dollar-plus transaction.

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  • Published On Dec 09, 2011
  • Habs’ slump has fans howling for change

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    The Habs’ poor start as drawn a spotlight on Scott Gomez’s plump contract and lack of production. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    One downside to having an enchanted, storied past is that when things turn wrong, the picture looks ugly. That’s where the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in this young season.

    The Habs currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and only the winless Blue Jackets are keeping them from occupying the league’s basement. Going into tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers, they are 1-4-2, the legendary club’s worst start in (get ready) 70 years. You have to go back to 1941 to find an edition of Les Habitants that stumbled out of the gate worse than these guys.

    That was before Maurice Richard became The Rocket. In ’41, Frank Calder was the President of the NHL and Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President of the U.S., just to provide some perspective. So, yes, it was a long time ago.

    But “long time ago” is also where the Canadiens glory days reside. They last won the Stanley Cup, their 24th, in 1993, and an entire generation of their fans has never experienced anything more exhilarating than a run to the conference championship round. That might be commonplace elsewhere in the NHL, but in Montreal it has become an annual shame.

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  • Published On Oct 24, 2011
  • Spotlight’s on NHL GMs, head shots, discipline

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    Zdeno Chara’s devastating hit on Max Pacioretty turned up the heat on a long-simmering issue. (Jean-Yves Ahern/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    NHL general managers began meeting today in Boca Raton, Florida, and there is some thought that this gathering — coming after the increased public outcry against the rise in head injuries and the league’s leniency in punishing players who inflict them – may be the most important one in a while. Further steps to protect the head is a major agenda item.

    It’s uncertain at the moment how far the GMs will go in making changes to the existing rules and standards of supplemental discipline. But TSN, NBC and Sports Illustrated’s Pierre McGuire said on Ottawa radio Team 1200 (audio) that he had spoken to a number of GMs and league decision-makers and the GMs are “very serious.”  McGuire called them “an extremely motivated and focused group right now. They understand; they’re hearing the message of the fans. Most of the enlightened general managers don’t want to alienate the fan base of the National Hockey League and the corporate sponsors of the National Hockey League.”

    Just as last year when the GMs met in March in the shadow of the Matt Cooke – Marc Savard  blindside head shot, this year’s gathering will take place after Zdeno Chara’s hit badly injured Max Pacioretty, as well as a long string of incidents that includes the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby being out of the lineup since early January (Crosby skated today for the first time since being hit head-first into the boards by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman on Jan. 5).

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  • Published On Mar 14, 2011
  • NHLers question league’s violence limits

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    As NHL players wonder why Zdeno Chara was allowed to escape suspension for his hit on Max Pacioretty, some people see arena safety as a main issue this incident. (Jean-Yves Ahern/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Thursday’s Canucks-Sharks game, a hugely entertaining overtime match won 5-4 by Vancouver, grew in drama as it went along. The teams each scored a power play goal in the last two minutes of regulation before Alex Burrows got the winner after his team killed off Ryan Kesler’s penalty. The game was so good that even the losers liked it. The Sharks’ Joe Thornton, whose team fought back from an early two-goal and two one-goal deficits to force OT, said (video) “The atmosphere was great, both teams played a really good game and it was an exciting game to be a part of.”

    The contest provided some needed relief from the antagonism engendered by Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty. The debate on the hit and the lack of punishment for it remains the biggest story in Canada and is Number One with a bullet at the top of hockey’s chat charts. It was guaranteed to stay that way when Thornton and some other players had their say about that incident prior to the game.

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  • Published On Mar 11, 2011
  • Bettman, Habs differ on NHL’s response to hit

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    By Stu Hackel

    The fallout from the Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty continued today with two dramatic statements and contrasting views on how the incident was handled.

    The first came from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (above) at the Congressional Hockey Caucus briefing on Capitol Hill. Responding to a media question, Bettman said, “Our Hockey Operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that they made. It was a horrific injury and we’re sorry it happened in our fast-paced, physical game, but I don’t think whether or not supplemental discipline was imposed would have changed what happened. In fact, the people in the game who I have heard from, almost to a person — and I’ll exclude the two clubs involved — believe it was handled appropriately by Hockey Operations.”
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  • Published On Mar 10, 2011


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