GM Brian Burke, Owner Henry Samueli and Executive Vice President Tim Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
Lots of great questions this week, so let’s cut short the introductory paragraph and get right to ‘em:
I know what a big fan of Don Cherry you are. What do you think of CBC dropping their iconic theme song for Hockey Night In Canada? Maybe Grapes is next.
Sean O'Reilly, Riverview, N.B.
Dare to dream, eh? Not about the song, I mean.
The war of words between the CBC and the publishing company for the theme’s creator sounds a lot like a public negotiating ploy to these ears. One side says they’re going, the other says “here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
In other words, I fully expect a last-minute deal between the two groups. I doubt CBC bigwigs are thick enough to let a cornerstone component of their hockey broadcasts walk away to a competitor without a prolonged effort to keep it.
You have a press pass, right? Can you go and ask Mr. Bettman (in a very blunt fashion) why Mr. Balsillie can't have a team? Or why is the league so reluctant to bringing back teams across the border? I mean, to this I see only two possibilities: either they hate Jim Balsillie for petty reasons, or they simply hate Canada.
With more than 30 percent of revenues coming from Canadian teams - Montreal and Toronto probably making more money than the five-to-eight least profitable teams put together - I just can't understand why they persist trying to break into a market that doesn't seem to want to open up. What do you think? And will you ask him?
I’ve spoken with too many league officials who insist Bettman harbors no anti-Canada bias, so I lean more heavily to the idea that he’d rather allow John Spano back into the fold than permit Balsillie into his ownership group.
But I don’t buy into the idea reporters are going to ask Bettman a tough question that causes the commish to suddenly cop to the truth about his feelings for Balsillie.
If there’s one thing Bettman is a master of, it’s spin; assuming he would do anything but promote his own agenda before those entrusted to represent the public interest is like assuming the telecommunications industry really wants you to save money on long-distance rates.
What do you make of all this talk about Brian Burke and the Leafs GM position; that it's the deepest, brightest desire of his heart to come to Toronto right away, and that his contract is the only thing standing in his way?
Sure, there are reasons why he might want to come to Toronto, but he's also got reasons to stay. I'm not convinced he does want to come to the Leafs as badly as I hear. I suspect most of this speculation may be wishful thinking on part of the Toronto media fanboys.
So what's really happening? Are people really talking, or just rumor-mongering? Enlighten me, please.
Josh Price, Toronto, Ont.
Almost every person I talk to – be it agents, players, GMs or other (non-Leaf) team officials – in the NHL community expects Burke to be in Toronto, either by the beginning of the coming season or the end of it, when his contract with the Ducks expires.
That’s nothing but sheer speculation until it’s confirmed, of course. But when you consider that Burke hasn’t signed an extension with the team, especially after the organization has made clear it doesn’t want him to leave, something clearly is amiss in Anaheim.
Add in the recent developments regarding a contract offer being made to Burke’s buddy Ron Wilson to assume the Leafs’ coaching duties before a full-time GM is in place, and you needn’t be Nancy Grace to solve this mystery.
If a player is a restricted free agent and a team from Europe offers him a contract, what are the restrictions? (Sorry for my English...)
Vincent Beaudet-Lagacé, Montreal
No need to apologize for your English. You should hear/see my French. For a guy with a last name like mine, I’m surprised Charles Aznavour and BonHomme haven’t appeared on my doorstep with a court order to change my surname to Jones.
Anyhow, there is no collective bargaining agreement clause that prevents restricted free agents from signing with a team outside of the NHL. I hope that answers the question for vous.
Do you think after a Game 5 like we saw with Detroit and Pittsburgh, it will put to rest the "should we have shootouts in the post-season" question? Could you imagine what you would be reading right now if Pittsburgh lost the Stanley Cup in a shootout?
Scott B, Red Deer, Alta.
As far as I’m concerned, the “shootouts in the playoffs” debate is a red herring usually floated by anti-shootout-ites who would prefer to do away with the concept altogether.
Nobody I know of who enjoys the shootout wants it extended into the post-season. What the shootout does is provide a reliable, guaranteed ending to NHL games that might otherwise drag on forever in overtime thanks to defense-minded coaches who would try and play pong for three extra hours a night until one side gets a lucky bounce on a shoot-in and the winning goal comes off the back of a netminder’s noggin.
I’m happy to put the debate to rest – so long as those who’ve opposed the shootout quit trying to have it removed from the game.
IN WHAT YEAR DID THE NHL LOCKOUT TAKE PLACE?
Jim Boland, Cambridge, Ont.
THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION, RIGHT? THE CORRECT ANSWER IS, THE LOCKOUT TOOK PLACE IN TWO YEARS – THE LATTER QUARTER OF 2004, AND THE FIRST HALF OF 2005. AND THANKS FOR THE ALL-CAPS QUESTION – IT REALLY PROVIDES A SENSE OF URGENCY I OTHERWISE WOULDN’T HAVE PICKED UP ON.
Hope you enjoyed the final, but my mind is a little bit off the ice...With restricted free agency becoming the devil to the sport allowing guys who are still getting IDed when they buy a beer to become multi-millionaires, what can the owners do the next time they enter a negotiation to avoid all the loopholes they have created (and the players have exposed)?
By the way, what Blake Wheeler has done is ridiculous and is another loophole that needs to go away.
Steve Malone, Freeport, N.Y.
For me, it’s hard to blame Wheeler or his representatives for using the rules to their advantage. It happens all the time in every other walk of life, so it’s hard to understand the vitriol directed at athletes who do the same thing.
Rest assured, there are more than a few hockey people – especially at the NCAA level – whose knickers are in a twist over this issue. So I’d imagine the loophole gets closed, but another one will almost certainly pop up down the line.
It’s just the nature of the beast; do you remember how people were using the term “idiot-proof” for the current NHL CBA? As NHL owners continue to prove, there’s really no such thing.
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