Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?


Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?

Everybody had to know Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs werent going to burst out into cartwheels no matter how good the offer was from the NHLPA Wednesday.
Spontaneous song or hilarious Montgomery BurnsSmithers comedy act skits? Possibly.
But cartwheels? No way and no how.
The players made significant movement toward the NHL with a six-page offer that went away from a set monetary figure for next seasons revenue, and instead aimed toward the leagues request of a set percentage of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) along with a raise in make whole money.
"There was movement from the players association on some issues, which was appreciated," said Bettman. "There was some movement by us. Hopefully there will be some momentum from todays session that we can build off of."
So the NHL should have been satisfied with the movement, but instead they acted like one of the NHLPA contingent clogged up their toilets during the Wednesday visit to the league offices.
The NHL had previously offered 211 million in make whole deferment money to guarantee the player contracts already signed, and the NHLPA asked for an additional 182 million to that kitty over the course of the CBAs first four years.
In essence you could say the two sides sit 182 million apart along with a bevy of player contract rights they also still dont see eye-to-eye on. To put the 182 million into perspective: it amounts to little more than a million dollars per team, per year over the course of a five-year contract.
Thats chump change in the world of professional sports. It also makes it all the more insulting to the fans that the league simply rejected the players proposal rather than making an effort to work off the numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the players moved toward the league on a number of fronts, and the NHL did almost nothing to meet the players in the spacious middle. Instead the NHL pushed entry level contracts back to the three years as they existed in the previous CBA from a two-year proposal. In their infinite wisdom, the NHL also went to the extent of pushing the players arbitration eligibility back one season.
In essence, the NHLPA gave in to the players on some important areas that put the two parties within shouting distance of each other. But it didnt matter to an almighty Board of Governors thats expected to whack all regular season games until Dec. 15 and the NHL All-Star game by the end of this week. Hows that for a nice holiday surprise to the businesses of Columbus, Ohio that expected a nice business boom at the end of January?
Maybe the Blue Jackets' owners should have checked the fine print on this years NHL blueprint for the CBA.
So where do the NHL and NHLPA go from here with Fehr at his bemused breaking point on Wednesday and Bettman overflowing with smugness as he conversed with an angry Flyers fan during his post-meeting press conference?  
Both sides are expected to hold discussions on Friday about where to go from here, and one would hope that means a counter-offer from the NHL bringing them closer together. Instead, the league continues to sound the alarm that theyve already released their best offer, and that circumstances will only get worse for the players as the NHL hemorrhages 18-20 million per day. Its also not helping that NHL sponsors like Kraft and Molson are either asking for refunds, or simply walking away to spend their money elsewhere.
The New York Post is reporting the NHL Board of Governors will sit down for a Dec. 5 meeting, and its difficult to glean whether thats a positive or negative development for the 2012-13 season.
The NHLPA has its share of frustration as well. They finally had their first union member go broken arrow when defenseman Roman Hamrlik angrily mentioned getting rid of Fehr if the season is cancelled. Hamrliks lockout rant doesnt speak for many players, but it was only a matter of time before one of the voices struck out against the rest of the players singing in harmony.
The mention of potentially decertifying the union was first brought up in a conference call earlier this week, and could become a possibility if the NHLPA gets desperate for leverage. The NBA and their players union were going through a similar impasse last season when the basketball players got serious about breaking up their union, and lo and behold the NBA regular season began a few weeks later.
The decertification process allows the players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league and even sue for damages in some instances, so its a tangled web the NHL probably doesnt want to delve into too deeply. But it might also give the NHLPA a chance to crumble the leagues salary cap structure once decertification takes place. That kind of action would mean a certifiable World War III with NHL owners that have built their business model around the salary cap.
But it would also mean players have some leverage they dont currently enjoy as Bettman lightly pats them on the head after watching the NHLPA stretch toward the league in negotiations. As stated previously at this address, the players already know theyre going to lose this head-to-head battle with the NHL. Theyre already feeling the urgency to return to work before the game they loved is wrecked beyond belief by the ugly business side of the league.
Unfortunately, the NHL appears to have a date in mind when theyd like to return, and that date will mean a couple of things have happened: the league can still play a maximum number of games played in the 60 range combined with five or more paycheck cycles missed that out-of-work players will never see again.
In the end, the owners will have lopped off the least profitable months of the season while still getting things into gear when the NHL historically tends to take off around Christmas.
Thats the theory, anyway.
Bettmans abhorrence for the NHLPAs gamesmanship and the leagues unwashed arrogance toward the players could always push the entire league over the cliff, and force them to miss another season.
But that moment is still more than a month away, and theyd have to be foolish enough to blow through deadlines on Dec. 15 and January 1. It could still happen, but its difficult to see the NHL unable to field some manner of shortened regular season given the middle ground both sides are dealing with.
Thats a little NHL silver lining on a day that turned out much worse than most had hoped or anticipated it would. At least we have that to be thankful for.

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Patriots advance to AFC title game vs. Jaguars


BEST OF BST PODCAST: Patriots advance to AFC title game vs. Jaguars

0:41 - Tom Curran and Albert Breer discuss some of the big takeaways from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

4:49 - Jalen Ramsey told the fans in Jacksonville that the Jaguars would be going to the Super Bowl. Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith talk about if they have a problem with what Ramsey said and if the Patriots would be using his quote as bulletin board material.

9:25 - Curran, Breer, and Giles discuss Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels likely not returning with the Patriots as Patricia seems to be headed towards the Lions while McDaniels goes to the Colts.

14:06 - Michael Hurley joins BST to preview the Jaguars/Patriots matchup and discuss the Patriots schedule and road to the Super Bowl. 

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal


No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

BOSTON – Less than 48 hours after one of his legendarily hard slap shots put a Montreal Canadiens forward in the hospital after striking him in the head, Zdeno Chara didn’t hesitate when given the chance to wind up and blast away on Monday afternoon.

It was the 40-year-old Chara that rocketed a slapper past Kari Lehtonen at the end of the second period, and in doing so energized the Bruins while getting them on the scoreboard. The Chara goal helped earn the Black and Gold a point in overtime before eventually falling to the Dallas Stars by a 3-2 score at TD Garden on Monday afternoon.

The Bruins captain had been texting with the felled Montreal winger on Monday, and was fully aware that Phillip Danault was out of the hospital and doing well aside from understandable concussion symptoms after a puck to the head. Perhaps that eased Chara’s mind just a little when it came time to lean into another wind-up slapper on Monday, but it was also certainly aided by the lack of brave bodies willing to front one of his heavy, hard point blasts.

“I obviously spoke to Phillip a number of times. I talked to him right after the game and wanted to make sure he was okay, and he texted me back that he’s doing fine. He’s been released [from the hospital] and that’s very positive, good news,” said Chara. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that it’s something that happens quite often, but it’s something you never want to see with somebody getting hit and hurt. I’m very happy he’s going to recover fully and hopefully he’s back on the ice and playing hockey [soon] like we all do.”

Was there any hesitation to Chara winding up and stepping into a 100-mph slap shot so quickly after the ugly incident in Montreal?

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often where you have that clean [shooting] path to the net where you can settle the puck, take a look and take a full slapper,” said Chara. “Usually teams play so well structurally that there’s already somebody fronting it, and you’ve got to get it through him with bodies in front. It does happen, but it’s nice that you have that time to put everything on it.”

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-9 defenseman did in sparking the Bruins to come back from a 2-0 deficit and push for the overtime point while extending their point streak to a season-best 13 games and counting.