Monday, November 14, 2005
If you’ve seen some transaction lists lately, you might think that Krzysztof Oliwa was claimed off of waivers by the Phoenix Coyotes. Eurohockey.net and Slam Sports have it on their transaction lists. Even NHL-centric TSN has the transaction listed on their player page for Oliwa, and Phoenix listed as his team when you search for players. However, the move isn’t anywhere to be found on nhl.com and ESPN looks like it got something hockey-related right, at least by not having it on their transaction list.
A Coyotes rep has told me reports of the claim are inaccurate, the ‘Yotes have not picked up Oliwa off of waivers from the Devils.
Oliwa cleared waivers on Oct 25th and was sent to the AHL, but not the Albany River Rats, the Devils’ AHL affiliate. From the Oct 27th Star-Ledger:
Left winger Krzysztof Oliwa, who cleared waivers Tuesday, was initially assigned to Albany. However, after having a conversation with general manager Lou Lamoriello, the Devils will look to assign him to an AHL team affiliated with another organization.
“We’ll see if he can be assigned somewhere where other people can look at him,” Lamoriello said. “Maybe a team that had been interested in him. That way they can see him every day. I’ve given him the freedom to talk to anybody.”
Monday, August 01, 2005
Aucoin, who owns a home in Garden City, says he wants to keep his family on Long Island but can’t deny himself the chance to determine his value on the open market. The Montreal Canadiens are believed to have strong interest, along with Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Hahn also touches on the cable contract:
The NHL is close to finalizing an agreement with a U.S.-based cable network, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The league recently re-opened talks with ESPN, which cut the NHL loose last spring in favor of poker and eating contests. Comcast also is planning a bid.
That reminds me I haven’t picked up that IFOCE shirt I’ve been craving.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
The Province is reporting that Brian Burke wants to be a Duck.
Burke, dismissed as president and general manager of the Vancouver Canucks on May 3, 2004, has interviewed for the vacant GM position with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Other candidates to replace Bryan Murray are Los Angeles assistant GM Kevin Gilmore and former league GMs Dean Lombardi, Mike Smith and Neil Smith.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The Washington Post is reporting that the Hershey Bears are expected to announce a new affiliation with the Washington Capitals today.
The move would be the first of several changes involving AHL teams. The Caps will end their affiliation with Portland, Maine; the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are expected to shift from Cincinnati to Portland; the IceCats of Worcester, Mass., are moving to Peoria, Ill.; and a new team will set up shop in Omaha, Neb., with other franchise relocations rumored.
Still unknown is which team will become the Colorado Avalanche’s new AHL affiliate. Rumors circulated about the Avs talking to the Central Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles, and possibly trying to get them to jump leagues, but nothing has been mentioned about it lately.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
The Colorado Avalanche haven’t chosen a new affiliate yet, but they have said goodbye to the Hershey Bears.
The Washington Capitals, currently affiliated with the Portland Pirates, are believed to be interested in having Hershey as an affiliate. The Caps were affiliated with Hershey from 1977-78 to 1983-84.
Distance was a major factor in Colorado’s decision. The Avs are said to be considering a team closer in locale as an affiliate, although this season few players were actually under Colorado contract, and Hershey was not happy with the arrangement either.
If the Capitals were to choose Hershey as their new AHL affiliate over Portland, the drive would be reduced from ten hours to two. Air travel was possible from Portland, but the Times notes weather is always a concern.
Many NHL teams have chosen AHL affiliates that are closer in location over the past decade, or even have the team move into the same NHL city. Some of the latest moves include the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate moved from Toronto to Edmonton in time for the 2004-05 season and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate in St. John’s will move to Toronto next season.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Just because there’s a lockout going on doesn’t mean we have to drop the player movement rumors completely, does it?
Jason Allison is an unrestricted free agent and is looking to possibly join the Toronto Maple Leafs whenever the NHL starts playing again (with it’s NHLPA members). Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch on 640 Toronto is reporting there have even been talks between the Leafs and Allison recently.
Allison, who grew up in the Toronto area, hasn’t played since 2002-03 when he had 22 points in 26 games for the Los Angeles Kings. His best season was with the Boston Bruins in 2000-01 when he finished 4th in scoring with 95 points. It was also the last time he’s played a full season.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
From the AHL:
The Chicago Wolves on Tuesday announced they have acquired forward Stephen Weiss and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester on loan from the San Antonio Rampage.
While it’s not that uncommon to see minor league teams loan players to one another, the caliber of these two is a bit higher than that norm. The deal supposedly is the players for cash - and that for every round the Wolves advance in the playoffs, the Rampage will get more money. The Rampage, clearly out of the playoff race, decided to cash in. There’s something that just doesn’t feel right about that and the integrity of the AHL playoffs certainly can be questioned because of it.
The Chicago Wolves are one of the AHL’s more successful franchises, currently sitting at third in average attendance behind Manchester and Edmonton. Yes, Chicago is a good hockey market. Last year the Wolves outdrew the Blackhawks one Sunday afternoon last year. It might have just been one day, but it shows you Chicago’s desire for hockey, just not current Blackhawks hockey.
The Wolves are the AHL team that has been scouting Sidney Crosby a good amount. It is rumored they will offer him a contract if no deal between the NHL and NHLPA is reached and the draft cannot take place.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
One of the most common questions I’m asked by other hockey fans I know is “when do you think they’ll play hockey again?”
For a long time my answer was “January, 2006”. While that’s probably still my best guess, the aggressive tactics of both the league and the players association make me think that there is the possibilty of seeing NHL hockey, in some form, by this fall.
What does “in some form” mean?
- The league and union get a deal done in time. Stop laughing. Please.
- The league brings in replacements, union holds steady.
- Training camp time comes around and the league says “doors open, show up if you want to”, and a mix of mid-level NHLers and minor leaguers show up.
One of the more interesting rumors I’ve heard lately is that the league would entice players to cross the line by possibly saying “first five players back get their former contracts honored in full”. Is it legal? Technically, I’m not sure, but I am sure it would have serious legal impasse implications. It was an ear-perker either way.
Monday, February 21, 2005
If you’re looking for some more material about what happened over the last few days:
- Loyal fans get cross-check by Damien Cox of the Toronto Star
- Gretzky and Lemieux just made things worse by Ira Podell of the Associated Press
Sunday, February 20, 2005
So the NHL cancelled its season, and although it was officially gone, we all flocked towards the rumors that the 2004-05 NHL season may be “uncancelled”.
Hockey fans - even many who are against the concept of a mini-season - seemed excited that we may have some NHL this spring, but it was not to be.
So what did happen over this past week? Why couldn’t the league and union agree to a deal, and what made the two sides meet just days after an official cancellation?
The easiest answer is to everything is that they couldn’t agree about money, that shouldn’t come as any surprise. What many fans need to be reminded of is that it wasn’t “just” $6.5 million (US) that kept the two sides apart. It was $6.5 million per team over the course of the agreement, which should be either five or six years. Using five years, and with the league having thirty teams, that’s a disagreement of $975 million. At six years it’s $1.17 billion, note the “b”. So please throw away any “just”, “only” or “merely” - please.
So what about the rest of the storyline?
It’s no secret that time was running out to have any sort of season at all. Finally, a real deadline was set. With a real deadline, real deals were going to be presented. The league backed off of linkage between revenues and salaries, and the union said “ok cap (as long as there’s no linkage)”. They couldn’t get their numbers to jive and the deadline came and went.
Many players were furious. First of all, they’ve been told “no cap” the entire lockout, and the union agreed to one. Secondly, word is that Bob Goodenow told Steve Yzerman something along the lines of “this is the week when the league gives in”. Well, that came and went and Yzerman was supposed to be the one behind a group of veteran players who put pressure on Ted Saskin, Trevor Linden and Daniel Alfredsson. Another interesting PA tidbit is that supposedly upwards of 80 players knew about the cap proposal from the union - two left out were the Buffalo and Toronto player reps, Jay McKee and Bryan McCabe, respectively - whoops.
One thing these players weren’t being told is that purportedly Goodenow accepted a cap as a legal impasse move. His intention, by offering a contract with a team salary cap, is to show that he’s bargaining in good faith. If he tells the PA members otherwise (that he’s just doing it to look like he’s bargaining in good faith), well, then he’s obviously not bargaining in good faith. Joseph Heller would be proud.
So the players are now up in arms that the season was actually cancelled. There are big rumblings that they’re going to make another offer to the league, and this time Goodenow isn’t involved. But remember this - it was the league, not the union, that sent out the invite. Like a shark smelling blood, the league saw the union as vulnerable and thought this could be the best time to strike a deal.
So now we have clear signs of player angst, and the league sending out an invite. That was it, the rumors started to fly left and right about a deal being done and the season being “uncancelled” (word of the month btw, and I prefer the unhyphenated version, even though it’s not a real word).
The thing that everyone forgot is that the two sides were still around a billion dollars off from each other and that a group of owners thought a $40 million cap was too high, and that anything higher was even more ludicrous (it’s not hard to separate where each owner stands). While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman only needs 16 of 30 owners to agree to a deal, and he’d probably get that many with a cap as high as $45 million, he still needs to do his best to make sure the owners on the lower end of the scale can survive. Many suggest that it probably doesn’t matter - any cap in place will raise the franchise value of all teams, and that any unhappy owner will be able to sell relatively easily (then you just have to deal with new owners possibly wanting to move teams, something Bettman doesn’t want to happen). There are a couple of NHL team wannabe-owners out there right now, former Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin being one of them (the old-ish rumor is that he wants to take a team to Kansas City). The wannabe-owners are banking on the league having a cap.
But I digress, back to the matter at hand: a deal between the league and the union was supposed to be struck up Saturday, but Saturday came and went with no formal agreements, and both sides saying “no progress, nothing further scheduled”. They’re still far apart, although you’ve noticed we’ve at least gotten to take a break from the phrase “philosophical differences”. Another thing was made clear: Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux are clearly just owners now, making statements for the league, despite Lemieux still planning on putting skates on again in the NHL.
There it is, some of the story you’ve seen in the press, and some of what I’ve heard. Take it as gospel or shrug it off, doesn’t matter now because the result doesn’t change - no deal done.
So what’s next? Not sure. From the very beginning I was banking on seeing NHL hockey again in January 2006. The aggressive nature of the bargaining process lately has made me more optimistic than I was before about seeing some NHL hockey this fall, although I can’t be sure if it’ll be because a deal is done, the union broke, or replacements come in.