Chat with Barry Melrose
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose will drop by to take your questions about the NHL season.
Melrose re-joined ESPN after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first part of the 2008-09 season. He first started with ESPN after coaching the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals and was a commentator on ESPN and ABC since 1995. Melrose made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets in 1979. A defenseman, he played for the Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings before retiring after the 1986 season.
Send your questions now and join Barry Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:02 PM)
We've got Barry!
Barry Melrose (2:02 PM)
It's nice talking to the hockey fans out there. Haven't been here in a while. I miss you!
You've said it time and time again we're going to have hockey this year but both sides look so stubborn, so in your opinion what finally gets this deal done?
Barry Melrose (2:03 PM)
When they get to a drop dead date and they have to get a deal done. This reminds me of 94-95. Very similar. We came back in January and had a 48 game season. That date isn't there yet, but it's getting close. Once we get there, I think both sides will realize and we'll get the season started.
John (St. Pete Beach, Fl)
Can teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning exist after a cancelled season?
Barry Melrose (2:04 PM)
It's going to be tough. A lot of small market teams will have it tough. Carolina. Phoenix. I have to think that the small market teams that have no revenue coming in...it's tough on them.
Ethan [via mobile]
Any chance of hockey this year in your opinion? And if there is what are your Stanley cup predictions?
Barry Melrose (2:04 PM)
I would pick the New York Rangers against the Minnesota Wild.
you're Barry Claus....how hungry are you for hockey??
Barry Melrose (2:05 PM)
Very desperate. I'm glad you noticed!
Edward (Lockout hell)
Barry, considering that 50% of most NHL careers last only 100 games or less do you think the players are risking more then the owners in this lockout?
Barry Melrose (2:06 PM)
I think for some reason the players forget stats like that. That's one of the funniest things of fighting for length of contracts since the vast matjority of the players won't ever reach a five year day. 90% of the players are fighting for the top 10 percent. They're helping the rich.
I do not play hockey unfortunately, but I do play baseball. Anyways, what will happen if there isn't a season this year? Will the NHL be gone forever? Or a new "NHL" be created?
Barry Melrose (2:07 PM)
There will be an NHL. The vast majority of the teams are very strong. The Maple Leafs value just went over $1B, the first to do so. If we miss a whole year, the look of the NHL might be different. Just because it's not settled now, why would it be settled in August of next year? The landscape of all of hockey would be changed if we missed a whole year.
Assuming (I know...a BIG assumption) we have hockey this season, what teams will benifit most from a short season??
Barry Melrose (2:08 PM)
Younger teams. It's going to be very tough physically. You'll play a lot of games in a short period of time. Younger teams with younger stars will do well. Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Edmonton.
Are there any teams that are more seriously impacted by this than others (not franchises but teams)? It seems like younger teams will be at a huge disadvantage if there are any games this year and maybe even next season.
Barry Melrose (2:10 PM)
It should make it easier for small market teams to compete, if you take out these long contracts and front loaded contracts. New York, Toronto, will thrive in any agreement. Dallas, Calgary, Edmonton, Carolina, it will be interesting to see them in a new agreement.
Taylor (Phoenix) [via mobile]
How long do you think Bettman will remain as head of the league?
Barry Melrose (2:10 PM)
Gary works for the 30 owners. He's made their franchises more valuable. All he has to do is answer to them and I think they are very happy with the way he's running the league.
Benn (Whiteford, MI)
Will the lockout end? How many games will there be played?
Barry Melrose (2:11 PM)
Yeah, a 48 game season. Mid January, that's the shut down date.. We had a full playoffs in 94-95.
Eddie (Fort Wayne, IN)
Do the players or owners really have the nerve to cancel an entire season over these kind of issues? Do you think the owners really will "die on the hill" for 5 year max contracts? Can the players take a 10 year CBA?
Barry Melrose (2:12 PM)
I would hopefully say no, but it's already happened once. The players and owners have already done it once. If you've done it once, you'll do it twice.
James (Rochester, MI) [via mobile]
Season or not, will the NHL lose all credibility due to the frequent labor disputes? If so, how does the greatest game on earth recover from such abominations?
Barry Melrose (2:13 PM)
I think we're going to see how the fans come back. After the last lockout, revenues went up every year for 6-7 years. Time will tell. Last time the fans came back bigger and better than ever.
why didn't the NHL learn from the NBA and NFL?
Barry Melrose (2:14 PM)
If you follow what's happening with the NHL, they're doing exactly what the NBA players did, they're talking about decertification. Right now the NHL is very similar to the NBA issues last year.
John (Ontario, CA) [via mobile]
How can the NHL & NHLPA come to an agreement for a new CBA?
Barry Melrose (2:15 PM)
It looks like just years. The money has pretty well been agreed upon, which is the crazy part. That's why I'm optimistic that a deal will get done.
Anthony/ Piscataway [via mobile]
Barry will we play hockey at some point this year and if so how good are my New York Rangers chances of winning the cup?
Barry Melrose (2:15 PM)
They have some older players, so you're worried about injuries there. But the addition of Nash is huge. You've added a 40-goal scorer. That will make everybody better. That's a huge addition.
Lloyd VanLanen (Connecticut)
Barry, so what happens if the NHLPA disbands, how does that help the current situation going forward?
Barry Melrose (2:16 PM)
It's sort of like the NBA. It's the last thing that can happen. It's the last move that they can make. The NBA did it and 12 days later there's an agreement. You're getting to the last option.
jake B (Troy NY)
Your take on owners (and players) keeping the very week franchises afloat? Would the league be better off with less teams? (With less teams, would-be 5th line players still have other options (AHL, ECHL, etc.), albeit not as lucrative.)
Barry Melrose (2:17 PM)
Every league would be better if you had the 10 best teams. MLB, NBA, NFL. But it's about revenues and markets and things like that. That's why all of the teams and sports keep some weak ones alive, to get to all of the national markets if you're a major sport.
Erik R. (Steamboat Springs, CO)
Can the owners just get replacement players? It's pretty obvious that, with Fehr having anythign to do with this, that nothing will ever be done.
Barry Melrose (2:18 PM)
No. I think that's a road they don't want to go down. The players have other options, but only a few players. I don't see it getting to that point.
Barry,Have you been following potential nhlr's playing in the AHL,and which players will have the biggest impact if/when the lockout ends?
Barry Melrose (2:19 PM)
A little bit. I've been trying to follow the AHL, college hockey. We have the Frozen Four this year, so I've been trying to keep an eye on it.
Brian (Long Island, New York)
With the young talent the Islanders have, do you think that they will raise a meaningful banner in the Nassau Coliseum before they leave?
Barry Melrose (2:20 PM)
No. When you compare their young talent to Edmonton or Pittsburgh's young talent, it's not as good. The Islanders are still a lot of players away from being a serious contender.
If players get hurt overseas will that effect their contract here? Also, if you had the option would you stay here and train or go play overseas?
Barry Melrose (2:21 PM)
It depends if I needed the money or not. If I were a young player and didn't have a nestegg, I would have gone over to Europe and made some money. Being injured is a risk, you're right. If you go over and play, the NHL doesn't have to pay you when things are set. But only the stars go over to Europe. Europeans don't want 3-4 line guys.
Barry, if the CBA does take more than the length of this season to resolve and the NHL is somehow pieced together, how will the players react after so much time away from playing in the US?
Barry Melrose (2:22 PM)
Hockey is not going to be great at the start, it will be pretty ugly. I'm not worried about the training of the players.
jon (los angeles)
Thanks for the chat. Kings season tix holder here. If there is a 48 game season, do you think that would taint a Stanley Cup victory, or repeat by the Kings? Sort of "yeah they repeated, but..."
Barry Melrose (2:23 PM)
No, because no one has put an asterisk next to New Jersey's first Cup. It will take good coaching and good playing to win a Stanley Cup. The playoffs will still be the same.
Pete (New York)
Two questions:1) Which team would finish last in the NHL?2) Which team has the worst long-term outlook?
Barry Melrose (2:24 PM)
It's going to be a sprint this season. Whichever team can stay healthy. If you lose a start player for 2 weeks, that could be 8 games, 10 games. Injuries are probably the most important thing.
This is the 3rd major work stoppage in the last 20 years, what makes the NHL so much different from the MLB or NFL where they have labor disputes but almost never miss any games?
Barry Melrose (2:25 PM)
I think the competitiveness of the hockey player. A hockey player, it almost becomes a battle, it's personal. We're not great businessmen. It almost becomes us vs. them. I think a lot has to do with the makeup of the athletes.
Ben (Raleigh, NC)
Coming out of the last lockout, the NHL adopted some rules and enforced others that made the game more exciting. Do you think it's time to rework any of the rules to improve the game? If so, what would you like to see?
Barry Melrose (2:25 PM)
I think the rule that's coming is head shots. I think you're going to see head shots penalized much more severely. Any hit to the head will be illegal. That will be the next major change.
What do you think the owners and players can do now, to prevent this from happening when the (eventual) new CBA expires? We didn't seem to learn from the previous lockouts. Is this something wrong with just the NHL or all professional sports?
Barry Melrose (2:26 PM)
I'm with the owners on this. I want a 10 year agreement. I don't want to see this in five years. I can't believe anybody out there doesn't want as long a deal as possible.
Do you think the owners are actually feeling any serious financial repercussions from this lockout yet, and, if not, how long/is there any way for the players to have the upper hand in bargaining? Or are the owners going to be able to hold out "indefinitely" compared to the players?
Barry Melrose (2:27 PM)
Some of them are pretty rich. There are different degrees of rich. Some of them, their major revenue stream is the NHL. Those are the owners that are feeling it.
Jeff (st. Louis) [via mobile]
Big Blues fan here. Once the season gets going, what's your perdiction on the Blues? Do they re-peat as central champs?
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
I like the Blues. This is perfect for the Blues. Young teams will be more resilient. This is tailor made for them.
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
The next time I talk to all of you guys, I hope to talk to you about the games and not the lockout!