Haggerty: NFL ref agreement means NHL is on the clock


Haggerty: NFL ref agreement means NHL is on the clock

So now the NHL is officially on the clock.

It clearly wont really be a catastrophic event for the league until Oct. 11 hits and the NHL wont have anything but cancelled regular season games on their schedule. It also truly wont be a suicide mission until the NHL officially cancels the Winter Classic and 247 HBO series that have become marketing gold for pro hockey and that isnt expected to happen until sometime in November at the earliest.

But the NHL is now also the only major pro sports league that officially cant get its crap together.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the 30 owners or 29 if you consider the Phoenix Coyotes situation were handed a beautiful disaster of a diversion when the NFL was locking out their referees. The most successful sports league in the land had turned laughingstock as the replacement refs were botching calls and compromising the integrity of the sport.

Meanwhile nobody was paying attention to the staring contest going on between Bettman and Donald Fehr.

All of that NFL sound and fury was also before they ruined the sacred Monday Night Football by handing an undeserved win to Golden Tate and the Seattle Seahawks on a horrendous touchdown call. But Roger Goodell and the NHL finally heeded the public outcry to spend a little extra money, find some middle ground and get Ed Hochuli and his band of merry striped men back into the fold.

The NFL finally showed some respect for their paying customers rather than continuing to insult their intelligence while allowing their great sport to decay. Its time for the NHL to do the exact same before they become a year-long running joke on a slap shot into oblivion.

Clearly they are different situations.

The NFL is a 10 billion plus industry that was foolishly squabbling with the refs over a few million dollars. The two sides of the NHL CBA negotiations are about a billion dollars apart over the lifetime of the contract, and nobody is denying that money is the key issue.

But the scrutiny and the microscope is now expertly trained on Bettman and the NHL, and the lighting will only get more unforgiving as time marches on.

Much like the NFL, the commissioner and their owners were criticized for their tight purse philosophy, the NHL ownership is wearing the full brunt of the blame for the NHL lockout right now.

The NHL owners are losing the PR battle by a country mile with fans and media alike siding almost exclusively with a group of hockey players that are being asked to take a 10-20 percent pay cut by an industry thats never been more robust. The NHL lockout is about unloved franchises like the Florida Panthers, the Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Islanders that few people care about at the end of the day.

Its a 3.3 billion industry where business of hockey has been booming, and it appears that both the NHL and the NHLPA feel theyre just scratching the surface of their popularity and revenue streams.

It makes zero sense that the NHL and NHLPA cant find a suitable middle ground to truly commence negotiations. There will obviously be no watershed Green BaySeattle moment for the NHL as long as theyre locked out and unable to play games, but it will be just as sobering if the NHL somehow turns away the 100,000 fans looking forward to a Winter Classic at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

That would be the kind of act that Detroit and Toronto hockey fans would never forgive, and would leave the same kind of stain caused by a band of misfit referees.

Goodells leadership abilities and management style came into question as the NFL became a runaway train with players, coaches, analysts, media and fans openly mocking the leagues willingness to place money over integrity.

Its the same tone of exasperation that NHL fans have been feeling all summer toward Bettman and the Board of Governors as theyve watched things slowly deteriorate into a bad, bad place. The two sides are unwilling to discuss the core economic issues when they get together this weekend, and clearly are stuck in an area where the NHL simply refuses to budge.

The NHL thankfully still has time to avoid their own personal abyss if both sides can give a little to create something that will keep hockey in business for the foreseeable future. Lets hope Bettman has learned from Goodells folly and doesnt need to be shamed into making a decision thats best for both the league and the hard-working, loyal customers that have made them so successful.

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins


Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 


“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 


“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues.