Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Greetings all. Still no end in sight to the NHL's lockout but we remain undaunted and will forge ahead. Now, where were we?
a non lockout (ish) question! i was able to go to the champs for charity event in chicago last friday and it was amazing! seeing soo many all star caliber players coming together and just having fun. some people equated it to the all-star game, but i felt it was MUCH better and more entertaining becuase the players were just having fun while playing completely unpressured hockey. do you think there was something to this event other than a one-time only? like maybe a post season "champs tour" or similar event?
Scott Burnside (1:02 PM)
will; Glad you were able to attend and kudos agent Bill Zito and Adam Burish for helping get this event off the ground. Talking to those involved it sounds like it was a really emotional night and as you described a nice break from the mindlessness of the lockout. I know guys in Minnesota had a similar charity event on Sunday night and Max Talbot and Bruno Gervais have been raising money and playing some hockey in Quebec. For players who aren't interested in or don't have opportunities to go to Europe it's refreshing to see them turning their talents to doing something good for their communities. I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this happen the longer this lockout goes.
Why dont the nhl players union set up a ton of the charity games? seems like doing a barnstorming like campaign around the US and Canada, could create a lot more pressure from fans and media to owners to get it done? what do you think?
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Paul; This is a good follow-up question. During the last lockout the big agency CAA set up a European tour and there were tours in Quebec similar to the one going on now. But it's a logistical nightmare to make these things work. I remember during the last lockout a guy was trying to set up a rival league with six teams but that never went anywhere the costs and logistics too daunting. If there was something that involved a large number of players and moved from town to town I think it would generate a ton of coverage and a lot of positive copy (check out the Chicago game from Friday for an example). But lots of moving parts not the least of which is insuring players' contracts.
Will Alexander Radulov be invited to the Blues-Preds alumni charity game?
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Nick; Depends. What time is last call?
Hi, Scott... Just wanted to say that you and the gang have done a great job covering this mess. Do you think we have reached a point that either side is just so dug in to their side that there is little chance for any concessions?
Scott Burnside (1:07 PM)
Rock; You are too kind. With the Winter Classic on the bubble; it could be canned as early as tomorrow; I fear we may be reaching that point where the deep freeze sets in. Funny, though, my colleague Pierre LeBrun and I were talking this morning and he reminded me that it's just Nov. 1. Last lockout the two sides didn't speak at all until December. Of course they did flush an entire season down the toilet so maybe that's not a good reference point.
Bob Ottaviano (Providence, RI)
Scott, what kind of loose talk do you hear from insiders as to the likelihood of a partial NHL season. Is their optimism; resignation; mixed feelings; or nothing close to a consensus?
Scott Burnside (1:10 PM)
Bob; The common theme I get from talking to people throughout the industry, folks on both sides of the fence, is dismay. No one can believe we are at this stage, more than a quarter of the season off the books, Winter Classic next, record revenues not enough for the two sides to find common ground. As for the potential to save even a portion of the season I still think there is at least guarded optimism that it can and will happen. The two sides are too close and there's simply too much to lose for both sides for it not to happen. Of course I said the same thing in August when I thought the season would start on time and look where we are now.
Andy (Orlando, FL)
I can understand if both sides are struggling to agree to points in a negotiation, but can you shed some light on why the sides can't even agree to sit down with each other? That seems to be what is causing the frustration among fans right now. Thank you!!!
Scott Burnside (1:13 PM)
Andy; My sense of it is this; both sides have room to move. The league will come off some of its demands vis a vis salary length, arbitration rights etc. and I think the players are reconciled to getting to a 50-50 split but the fear is in giving too much too soon (I know, too soon? It's Nov. 1.). But this goes back to last lockout when the players offered a 24% rollback and it ended up staying on the table and the owners still wound up with the salary cap. So I think both sides are waiting for the other to step towards the middle.
If you asked me two weeks ago, I thought the season would be starting tomorrow. Now I think we are done for another year. Does either the NHL or NHLPA understand that they are killing all of the momentum they built over the last 5 or 6 years.
Scott Burnside (1:15 PM)
Steven; That's the weird part of this. Regardless of what you think of Gary Bettman or Bill Daly or Steve and Donald Fehr they are bright, intuitive men. Yet in spite of that intelligence and their combined experience here we are. It truly is mind-boggling that so much could be put at risk to prove a point as seems to be the case with both sides.
Do you think the NHL would consider paying the $250,000 on Friday to buy more time to try and save the season & the WC? If they expect to make $30,000,000 from the WC, the $250K is a drop in the bucket.
Scott Burnside (1:18 PM)
Bill; I think it's a bit of a red herring to look at the deadlines for getting money back on the contracts with the various players because you're right, if the league thought they could save the Winter Classic by hanging on for a few more days they would. I think it's straight on logistics. So many partners, so many moving parts in getting an event like this up and running (and remember this is actually an event in two locations Comerica Park and Michigan Stadium) that they've just decided that in the absence of any forward momentum this is the right thing to do.
I asked Custance this on Tuesday, would love your take, thanks:We need to get the extremists on both sides out of the room to make something happen. Give me three names on each side you'd lock in a room and not let out until a deal was struck.
Scott Burnside (1:21 PM)
John; No doubt Craig will have been more thoughtful than I will be but here goes.I would have Ron Hainsey, Pat Brisson(agent) and Don Meehan (agent) representing the players' side and I would have Mario Lemieux, David Poile and Jim Rutherford in from the owners' side. My guess? Two hours and a framework is done.
do you think that donald fehr plans on going after the cap since the lockout is dragging?
Scott Burnside (1:22 PM)
karen; No chance. His veiled threats to go after the cap are ludicrous. The moment he goes that route the NHL will go after guaranteed contracts and then you can kiss the entire show goodbye until, well, hell freezes over and they schedule the Winter Classic there.
BOBBY (NORTHERN MINNY)
I heard Lou Nanne on the radio the other night saying that 18 of the 30 owners were losing money each year. If that's true, what kind of incentive do they have to settle this mess?
Scott Burnside (1:25 PM)
Bobby; Funny how all we heard from the NHL the past four or five years was how great everything was, rising, record revenues and great growth on a multitude of platforms. Now no one makes any money. Gee, funny how that works out. Are there teams that need the system to be tweaked? Sure. Does revenue sharing need to be more broadly and lucratively applied? Sure. But I think you can make numbers like those being quoted by Lou (and I didn't see or hear the context in which he was referring) say anything you want. Right now it's in the league's best interests to have the numbers look as ugly as possible.
Sergei (Mother Russia)
Many of my country-men are loving playing in KHL here, the motherland, with many threatening to stay regardless of the NHL's status. If they do remain in the KHL, notwithstanding contract issues, will the NHL ever recover?
Scott Burnside (1:27 PM)
Sergei; The contract issues are paramount which is why it is ludicrous for those players to suggest they won't come back. First, the NHL will never go for a clause in the new CBA that would allow players to break existing contracts and stay. Second, if players are in breach of NHL contracts by not coming back the KHL shouldn't allow them to play (based on the agreement they have with the NHL) and third the IIHF should and presumably will ban all such players from taking part in international events like the World Championships. Frankly the threats are a joke.
What are the chances that Michigan will host the same Winter Classic, but next year? Could the NHL scrap the Winter Classic completely?
Scott Burnside (1:29 PM)
Mark; The assumption is that the NHL would do all in its power to replicate what they had planned for this season next season. That's assuming of course they can get a deal done to save the 2013-14 season. Yikes. As for scrapping the Winter Classic I don't see that happening. In fact given the damage done to the game things like the WC will be even more important to the league in trying to make up lost ground.
OK, to lighten the mood...Scott, give us one of your favourite "I can't beleive I just saw that" hockey memory.
Scott Burnside (1:31 PM)
Andrew; Love to. Watching Zach Parise tie the Olympic gold medal game in the final minute and then watching Sidney Crosby score from the bad angle to win it for Canada. Will never be able to adequately describe the weird almost airless emotion in that building after the U.S. tied it, like every single person was holding his/her breath until it ended.
Dan (New Hampshire)
What prevents the union and the league from meeting tomorrow? Why won't they?
Scott Burnside (1:33 PM)
Dan; In no particular order; greed, obstinance, pride, ego, anger, laziness. Take your pick. That said, they could in fact meet at a moment's notice. That's the maddening part of this, no?
Jim Clark (Long Island, NY)
Will Bettman and Fehr show up for the Hockey Hall of Fame induction November 9-12?
Scott Burnside (1:34 PM)
Jim; Good question. I assume so although both parties were invited to and expected at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame festivities in Dallas a few weeks back and declined because the league was putting a proposal together. Toronto's Hall of Fame ceremony has a higher profile so I would think both will be on hand. Heck, they could grab a coffee and pound out an agreement before cocktails.
So with no NHL so far there were only those two versions of the power rankings (Yours and Lebruns). Why not start up some AHL power rankings? I'm sure you guys must be looking for somthing to work other than the lockout and complete lack of progress in negotiations.
Scott Burnside (1:35 PM)
Rob; Not a bad idea although I think Craig Custance did AHL power rankings of some sort. I have found myself trying to keep more tabs on which teams are excelling at the AHL level and which players are making a statement early on in the season. It just might come to that.
You sound a little more stressed today than normal. Do you need a hug? Or maybe a beer?
Scott Burnside (1:37 PM)
Justin; Thanks for asking. No, trying to stay Zen as we move along in this. But it's no different for the media covering this than anyone who has a stake in the game, feelings of being disappointed or disgusted or bewildered or downright ticked off. But hugs and beer are always a good antidote for whatever ails you regardless in my books.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Scott, I saw the other day the amounts that NHL teams were losing per game and the numbers were between $3-11 million per game, depending on the city (amounts were based on last year's ticket costs). How long can the owners continue to let that happen, or does the tv money offset some of that?
Scott Burnside (1:39 PM)
GBK; The NHL has always been and I suspect will always be a gate-driven league. That's why you hear lots of rumor or debate about just how many owners would much rather be playing than embroiled in this fiasco of a labor dispute. Think of the big revenue generators like the New York Rangers, Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia and they are dying to get back on the ice. Is there enough of that sentiment to force ownership into a more concilliatory stance and ultimately bring this to an end? That's the 64 dollar question.
James (England )
Do you think it's feasible that when it appears as though the season is in jeoprady, the owners become more divided and some might even start speaking out (despite the garunteed fine) - against either the league- or just their desire to get things moving in the right direction?
Scott Burnside (1:41 PM)
James; This is a good follow-up to the previous question. The problem for owners is that they have to be very careful about what they say and how they say it as Jim Devellano of the Red Wings can attest after his ill-advised (but accurate) description of players as cattle. Just don't see an open rebellion or fracturing of the ownership position. Bettman's positioning is too strong. Any kind of palace coup would have to be done very subtly is my guess.
Mike (Toms River)
Do you think the NHL will lose more russian players to the KHL as a result of these constant labor battles?
Scott Burnside (1:44 PM)
Mike; I don't think so. Certainly the KHL has proven to have more staying power than most (myself included) might have imagined. But the level of competition there is never going to rival that of the NHL (assuming the NHL gets back to business at some point). I think you'll continue to see the KHL pick off players that are younger and are attracted by more money than the NHL can provide under its entry level system and fringe players who don't want to play in the AHL and can make more money going home. But as for impact players in spite of Ovechkin's threats to stay if he doesn't like a new deal the best players will always want to play against the best players and that's going to be in the NHL.
RJ (Phoenix, AZ)
Hi Scott,You and Pierre (and Katie) have been doing really well in covering the lockout, thanks so much for that. I have one question right now, regarding the Quebec labour suit. Do you think it has any merit, and if the Canadiens end up having to pay their players, would it force the NHL's hand in cutting a deal sooner? I can't imagine the Habs would be ok with an indefinite lockout if they were still on the hook for some of their contracts
Scott Burnside (1:47 PM)
RJ; Again, thanks for the kind words. I have always been of the mind the NHLPA's attempts to muck up the works for Canadian teams by challenging the lockout in various provincial courts is a waste of time and energy and simply a way of annoying the NHL. History suggests the suits have little chance of success and even if the Habs were forced to pay their players I don't see it driving a wedge into the owners' positioning at all. Just another diversion away from the real issues.
Mike (Mision Viejo, CA)
I waited my entire sports watching life to finally see my Kings lift the cup. My openingday tickets to see the banner lifted are already useless and now I have to wait even longer to celebrate their run towards back-to-back cups. This lockout is killing me!
Scott Burnside (1:49 PM)
Mike; I don't know how many times I chatted with Jay Feaster, then the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, about the kick in the teeth the last lockout was to the Bolts. All that enthusiasm, the passion for the team and the game simply dissipated. There will always be a die-hard core of Kings fans. That's not going away (I don't think) but this must be a bitter pill for the team and its players to swallow not being able to take advantage of last spring's magical run. Hope you get to see that banner go up sooner than later.
Scott, is there anything, anything at all, that we as fans can do to make some kind of an impact on this nonsense?
Scott Burnside (1:51 PM)
Alex; I think the whole social media thing has changed the dynamics of this lockout compared to last time around. I think the league and the players too are much more sensitive to how they look and fans have far more avenues with which to vent. Of course the only real response from fans that matters to the owners - and by extension the players who share in the revenues - is by walking. By not buying tickets and merchandise that's the real way to send a message. Sad but true.
Scott- GREAT piece yesterday on the lockout. How can 700+ rich guys possibly out-wait 30 wealthy guys? What possible leverage do the players have as clock ticks away on their finite playing / earning years?
Scott Burnside (1:54 PM)
Doubles; Yes, I know this looks like it's all about pumping my own tires. But it's not. Really. But the question of leverage is key to these negotiations I think. The owners believe that ultimately they can outwait the players for the reasons you outlined. There are many within the NHLPA whose careers might be one, two, three, four years in length. Lose a season and the hit to their career earning potential is enormous. Owners count on those players to become disgruntled and force the PA to move to the owners. It's what happened last time. Apparently at this stage the owners are confident it will happen again or at least willing to gamble a large portion of this season and maybe the entire shebang that it will happen again. Oy.
Craig (Boston )
Assuming that a negotiation is reached, give me one player from the Eastern and Western Conference due for a breakout season?
Scott Burnside (1:58 PM)
Craig; Okay. West; Sven Baertschi of the Calgary Flames and Jacob Josefson of the New Jersey Devils.
Scott Burnside (1:59 PM)
Okay folks. Hope all of those in Sandy's path are staying dry and warm and let's not give up hope. Maybe when we reconvene next week there will be better news to discuss. Until then be well.