NHL COO none too pleased
As the NHL lockout enters the holiday season, nobody, including NHL COO John
Collins, is in a jovial mood.
TORONTO -- I've been relatively quiet lately about the NHL's labor
negotiation. In fact, it's been one month since I last wrote about the
Frankly, I've had better things to do. We've been busy with the
magazine, I've been to Montreal, Los Angeles and Chicago for some
great photo shoots with some great players, and I honestly rather not
get all worked up over the same crap that's been tossed around week
after week. We get it, you're all disappointed.
When I look back at some of the stuff I've written about this lockout,
I take notice in the dates. August was big, then for almost two months
nothing really happened. November rolled around and everyone got
excited again... for one week.
Now, as we enter the holiday season, the owners and players are set to
meet, followed by the NHL's Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday.
What will come out of this? Probably nothing. Do you really expect the
owners, who will have Jeremy Jacobs in the room, to sympathize with
the players and their lost wages? (By the way, did you know Bill
Daly and Steve Fehr will join tomorrow's meeting?)
And do you think think Jacobs gives a crap what Jim Dolan and the rest
of the BOG have to say? (Wishful thinking suggest "he'd have no
For the record, this isn't simply the owners giving the players the
middle finger; I still believe both the NHL and the NHLPA need
to give-and-take before all is said and done.
Whatever happens tomorrow (owners include Boston's Jacobs, Calgary's
Murray Edwards, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum, Winnipeg's Mark Chipman,
Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle and Tampa's Jeffrey Vinik; players expected
include Jonathan Toews, George Parros, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller and Shane Doan -- though
more NHLers will be in NYC tomorrow and they'll formally decide as a
group as to which players will jump in the meeting with the owners) could have
an affect on how Wednesday's BOG play out. If, by some miracle, common
sense prevails, we might be able to figure this whole mess out.
But I'm done being optimistic. Almost.
I want the season back up and running, I want to see which player
lights it up this year, I want to see Ilya Bryzgalov talk about
Huskies and blondes and spaceships, and I want fans to boo Gary Bettman when he presents the Stanley Cup -- because that means one
will be awarded and that's what fans do.
I'm without a doubt not the only person frustrated by all of this, and
I'm extremely intrigued when I hear the important folks voice their
concerns (even through third-party sources).
Remember when Detroit Red Wings Senior VP Jimmy Devellano spoke a
little too honestly (by the way, he referred to himself as cattle,
too, so give the guy a break), or when Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk told
a Toronto radio station "this should not happen" and worries fans
might not come back, similarly to how he became disinterested in MLB
after the 1994 strike (I don't think he was slapped with a fine, like
he'd pay it, anyway)?
Remember when reportedly someone in Ed Snider's camp told the
Philadelphia Daily News he's pissed off, or when someone reportedly told Comcast Sportsnet New England that Jacobs told one of the NHL's newest
alternate governors to sit in the corner and drink from his sippy cup?
Remember when some of the NHL's top sponsors (PepsiCo, Bauer, Canadian
Tire, etc.) have started to allocate their dollars elsewhere, or when
some (Kraft) have already done that, or when others (Molson) have
threatened to seek damages as a result of the lockout?
This whole situation is just full of sunshine and smiley faces, isn't
Well, here's the latest.
It seems the frustration surrounding the lockout has made its way deep
into the NHL office. John Collins, the NHL's COO, isn't a happy
camper. The man responsible for spearheading the Winter Classic,
moving the NHL Awards to Las Vegas, getting the NHL back on a major
network (NBC), significantly expanding the League's digital reach, and
so on, is ticked off. And rightfully so.
Imagine getting to the office every day and having to deal with an
inbox full of disgruntled emails and a voice mail loaded with "call me
back, immediately" messages. Not only has the NHL significantly
wounded itself (again, not just a one-way street) with this lockout,
but it's causing more headaches for Collins than he needs.
In news first reported by
Joey "Vendetta" (well connected to
the NHL, and no, that's not his real last name), it has been
speculated that Collins is considering and exploring all of his
options. Whether he decides to leave is an entirely different matter,
but I've been told by multiple sources that he's "upset" -- not only
by the length of the lockout, but by being shut out of the negotiation
process, which, by itself, raises eyebrows.
Collins, an award-winning businessman aficionado, who made his bones
on a much bigger NFL stage, has been one of the
NHL's top assets since the 2004-05 lockout (he first jumped on board
in late-2006). League revenues have jumped approximately 150% since he
joined the NHL, and it's no secret the League can't afford to lose him.
Now, this doesn't mean he's walking out the door tomorrow. He'll
probably stay (his contract is significant enough), but the mere
notion that he's irked by all of this is truly telling. And the fact
that it's being whispered now, at this point in time, might not bode
well for this week's CBA meetings.
Hey, Comrade... GFY
Ah, the thrills of playing overseas. Sometimes you get paid,
sometimes you don't.
While most NHLers spending the lockout in leagues in Europe and Russia
haven't experienced too many troubles (outside of being bored off
their asses), there always seems to be some kind of beef coming out of
Earlier today, I was informed that Avtomobilist, the KHL's last place
team, is in HUGE financial turmoil. They're hemorrhaging. They're in
such a bad spot, that the team might have to fold.
What that means for some of its players, I don't know. Toronto Maple
Leafs star Joffrey Lupul joined that club last month, and while the
experience has been eye-opening, the team has been horrible.
According to multiple sources, some (if not all) of Avtomobilist's
players haven't received their latest round of payment. I honestly
don't know where Lupul stands in that department (I haven't been able
to reach him since Friday -- I fearfully picture him sitting in a
dark, wet Soviet prison -- I kid, I kid), but I'd imagine he's in a
What happens now remains to be seen. I don't know how the team can
just all of a sudden disappear. The KHL could step in for the balance
of the season and lend support, which appears likely. I guess we'll
find out soon enough.
As for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Co... don't
worry, they're getting paid. Well.