Signing bonuses could become next CBA battleground

Jamie Benn (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the NHL announced last fall its seven-year partnership that will see adidas become its official outfitter starting next season, your trusty correspondent asked commissioner Gary Bettman whether the deal would be extended by a year if there were another labor dispute. Bettman responded with a one-word answer.

“Really?” Bettman asked, with a good amount of offense and incredulity. Well, about as much offense and incredulity as someone who has shut down the game three times in the past 20 years could muster.

Read more

Five NHL jerseys players should have refused to wear

Todd Bertuzzi. (Getty Images)

On Saturday, Chicago White Sox all-star pitcher Chris Sale was scratched from his start and sent home because he refused to wear the team’s throwback uniform. It went beyond that, of course. Sale reportedly went into the clubhouse and cut up his own jersey, along with those of his teammates.

Sale’s gripe? The collar on the jersey was uncomfortable and he was adamant that he would not wear it. Sale was eventually suspended for five games by the team.

It was a bizarre story, but one that could plausibly play out in any team sport. In the NBA, for instance, many players complained when the new sleeved jerseys were introduced.

In hockey, the basic design of the jersey has been largely the same for the past 100 years. There isn’t much that can be done that could throw a player into a fit of uncomfortable rage. The aesthetics of hockey jerseys on the other hand, they have at times been a cause for concern.

Here are five NHL jerseys players should have refused to wear.

Read more

Report: Islanders potentially looking at move to Queens, playing near MLB’s Mets

Jared Clinton
Barclays Center (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders’ first season at the Barclays Center was successful on the ice, but that hasn’t stopped rumors from swirling about the potential for the club to find a new home in the near future.

Last week, the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte reported that new Islanders co-owner John Ledecky had said he believed the Brooklyn-based arena would play host to the club long-term, going so far as to call Barclays Center the Islanders’ “home.” However, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, the Islanders may be looking into another option.

Soshnick reported Thursday that the Islanders could be looking to move out of Brooklyn and into Queens, where they would build an arena situated near Citi Field, the home of the MLB’s New York Mets. According to Soshnick, discussions between the Islanders and Sterling Equities, the Mets’ ownership group, have been taking place for “months.” Read more

Jamie Benn’s contract sets the bar for John Tavares’ next deal with Islanders

Jared Clinton
John Tavares (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New York Islanders co-owner John Ledecky has already said GM Garth Snow is going to have no financial restrictions when it comes to making the team a Stanley Cup contender once again, and that seems especially true when it comes to locking up Islanders captain John Tavares.

Tavares, 25, is currently in the fifth year of a six-year, $33-million deal that could see him become an unrestricted free agent come the end of the 2017-18 season. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, when Ledecky was asked how the Islanders would approach things when Tavares is inching closer to free agency, he said plainly that Tavares “is not going to be a free agent.”

While it’s one thing to say it and another to make the deal reality, it sure seems like Ledecky and Co. are willing to do whatever necessary to get Tavares to sign on the dotted line. And while it’s hard to know where Snow’s starting point will be come July 1, 2017 — the day he can officially submit a contract extension offer to Tavares — the eight-year, $76-million deal inked by Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn offers an almost perfect comparable. Read more

New Islanders owner says team will spend to “cap-max” in hunt for Stanley Cup

Jared Clinton
John Tavares (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

This past season saw the New York Islanders win their way to the second round of the post-season for the first time in 22 years, and new owner Jon Ledecky said there will not be any financial restraints in the way of the once-dynastic Islanders snapping their 32-year Stanley Cup drought.

Ledecky, who joined up with Scott Malkin to take over the majority ownership of the Islanders from Charles Wang, told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that the plan for the Brooklyn-based club is to spend wherever necessary to bring the glory days back to the Islanders.

Already, some signs of Ledecky and Malkin’s commitment to spending money to ice a winner has been seen, as New York went out and signed Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5-million deal. The Islanders also spent to add Jason Chimera and P-A Parenteau through free agency.

“There are no financial constraints on (GM Garth Snow) and the team,” Ledecky told Botte. “So if we need to be cap-max to compete for a Stanley Cup, we will be cap-max…We want the New York Islanders to be a destination in free agency and we want the Stanley Cup to be lifted by our captain, John Tavares, whether it’s this year, next year or five years from now.” Read more

Why frontrunner George McPhee would be the best choice for Las Vegas

George McPhee  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Las Vegas expansion franchise will name the first GM in its history Wednesday, and while it appears that owner Bill Foley has scanned the hockey world interviewing candidates, things keep circling back to two prominent hockey names – Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee.

(UPDATE: I spoke with a very reliable NHL source at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday who told me he has been told by four different people that McPhee will in fact be named GM.)

When the team interviewed candidates for the job recently, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill put in a strong performance. But the sense in the hockey industry is that Foley and former NHLer Murray Craven, who is assisting him in the process, settled on Mellanby and McPhee early on as their frontrunners and someone would have to really impress them in order to unseat them from that position.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs still haven’t made decision on Lupul’s future

Joffrey Lupul (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons praises the ability of Maple Leafs management to ship out contracts considered untradeable. He observes they’ve shed over $23 million in salary-cap space in the last 18 months by dealing away Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier.

That prompted Simmons to speculate their next trick will be making winger Joffrey Lupul’s contract disappear. Lupul, 32, is signed through 2017-18 at an annual average salary of $5.25 million. He also holds a modified no-trade clause listing 14 acceptable trade destinations.

Since joining the Leafs, Lupul’s continually been sidelined by injuries. He missed 31 games in 2015-16 to a sports hernia. As a result, his name is frequently surfacing in trade rumors. Read more