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. Hope Thanksgiving was safe and enjoyable even without the NHL's annual slate of Thanksgiving Day games to help you digest. Okay, got a fresh cup of Dunkin (all out of Tim's) going. So, where were we?
Brendon (Storrs, CT)
Who do you think is the winner of the Steve Ott-Derek Roy trade?
Scott Burnside (1:04 PM)
Brendon; Interesting you should ask as I recently spoke to Steve Ott's Detroit-area agent. Hoping to catch up with Ott to talk about charity game he's putting on in our shared hometown of Windsor, Ontario. Couple of factors. The Sabres have been a big disappointment the last couple of years and I think they identified a need for more sand and grit. Ott delivers that in spades. He's also got better offensive skills than people think. For me the real tipping point will be whether Derek Roy can get healthy. If he can then the Stars will get another top six player to plug into a group that already includes Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Jaromir Jagr, Ryan Whitney and Brenden Morrow. If he can't stay healthy they may miss Ott more than they think they will.
With the recent news of the Maple Leafs being valued at over a Billion dollars (not sure if thats US or Canadian), does that increase or decrease the possibillity of the 2nd Toronto Franchise set in Markam. They could obviously support a second team, but i cant imagine The Leafs welcoming another team into their backyard, and potentially taking money out of their pockets. And secondly what makes the NHL think that die hard Leafs fans would embrace another team?
Scott Burnside (1:07 PM)
Justin; Not sure the value established by Forbes (and questioned of course by every NHL team including the Leafs) would have any impact on a second team in the Toronto area. The Leafs are going to try and block such a move and when/if it happens will be handsomely compensated. My guess is that Toronto 2 becomes a viable option when the league looks to expand (discuss that strategy amongst yourselves) so the owners can share in whopper expansion fee. Also, no small matter of finding a place for Toronto 2 to play. Markham looks now like it's not going to happen. I agree with your question about whether it's a slam dunk that a second team is successful. Hard to break decades of hockey habits if you're a Leaf fan just because it's another NHL team.
Scott,Since we're so liberal with our hatred of the hardline owners, can you identify who the hardline players within the Union are? It seems to me that the 3rd and 4th line players would prefer to be getting paychecks. The 1st and 2nd liners are set for life already and are also the ones overseas stealing jobs from those guys. Seems a little hypocritical that they preach about doing it for "the good of future players" when they have no problems ruining things for the current ones (both home and abroad)...that either A) Aren't earning 5M+ or B) Are in the twilights of their careers.
Scott Burnside (1:10 PM)
Chris; It's an interesting difference between the two groups because the way the NHLPA is now set up it's a very horizontal organization with a 30-player bargaining unit and 30 player reps but any player can attend any meeting. It's an open door policy so unlike the last go-round when there was an executive committee that held sway with the rank and file it's a lot harder to pin down 'hard-liners'. My sense is that while most players want a deal the vast majority still believe it's wrong to take a deal just to get a deal done. Guys like Ron Hainsey and Kevin Westgarth have been constants in the meetings of late. Martin Biron, Johan Hedberg are a couple of more who have been involved quite a bit. So it's not just that guys with high end contracts are somehow obstructing a possible deal.
Is my extreme pessimism that there will be no hockey this year warranted?
Scott Burnside (1:12 PM)
Eddie; No. I get it. And lots of days it's hard not to think they'll never get this done. But maybe because there is so much at stake and the game in general and the owners in particular continue to be hammered in the court of public opinion I still think a deal gets done. Maybe mediation is the escape hatch that allows the season to be saved. I still remain at least mildly optimistic we'll have hockey before Christmas.
Scott, not that it really matters because we hate them all anyway, but where do the NHL officials stand on this? I assume "no play, no pay" applies to them as well, no? Any word out of their camp or have they found other options as well?
Scott Burnside (1:15 PM)
JD; Ha, ha. If it's one thing that fans all agree on it's that the officials are against their team. Again, funny you should ask as I traded e-mails this morning with Brian Murphy who's the head of the officials' union. They don't get paid when there's no hockey and to their eternal credit they also don't take officiating jobs in other leagues. That was their stand last time and it holds true this time. Hats off to them for having those principles. They take part-time jobs, work with local officials in their towns, and next week a group will be making a trip to a Kitchener area childrens' hospital for a donation and to spend some time with the kids. Bad calls or not these are guys who deserve a lot of credit for how they handle themselves.
Assuming there is hockey ?? I see the bruins as favorites for the cup. They haven't changed anyone in lineup for mlast year besides possibly Dougie HAmilton. THey have chemistry and system in place and can just pickup where they left off .. Thoughts ?
Scott Burnside (1:17 PM)
Bill; I think the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues among others might have something to say about that. But agreed that the Bs are a solid organization. My question is whether Tuukka Rask is ready to be 'the man' assuming Tim Thomas remains on leave from the game.
Luke (St. Paul, MN)
Sad story about Josh Harding's MS diagnosis today. Thankfully he resigned with the Wild prior to the lockout for 3 years, but how do you think NHL teams would deal with a player that has a diagnosis like that during Free Agency?
Scott Burnside (1:20 PM)
Luke; Agreed. Warm thoughts for Josh Harding who has never had the best of luck when it's come to injuries in his career. I remember talking to him last year when he was playing so well when Niklas Backstrom was injured and he talked about just keeping the faith when it looked like his career was over. He told Mike Russo who wrote the story basically the same thing after being diagnosed with MS recently. Here's hoping he can keep his career on track in spite of the disease. As for NHL teams taking a chance on a free agent it would take a pretty big leap of faith for a scout/GM/owner to go that route. Here's hoping Harding proves it would be a leap worth taking.
Bruce (Pittsburgh) [via mobile]
Do you see Anaheim losing Getzlaf and Perry whenever hockey resumes either in free agency or via trade? Love to see Perry on Crosbys wing.
Scott Burnside (1:23 PM)
Bruce; One of the great storylines if we do see hockey this year is how the Ducks handle two cornerstone players who could become UFA next summer. We will beat the 'have to get out of the gate fast' horse to death if there is a truncated season but hard to imagine a team that will need a better start more than the Ducks. I like their chances with Bruce Boudreau at the helm for a full season but it will make life difficult for GM Bob Murray if the team falters. Have to imagine Perry is the priority to sign if they had to choose between the two but they would both command top assets if they both hit the market at the trade deadline. And yes, Perry would look pretty good playing on the wing with Crosby.
Speaking of Tim Thomas, what's his take on the lockout? :)
Scott Burnside (1:23 PM)
Nick; It's the government's fault.
How much of the season do you think needs to get cancelled for them to finally nix the entire thing? I'm still holding out hope that there will be hockey in January. Realistic?
Scott Burnside (1:25 PM)
Brad; No one knows when the drop-dead might be for the league to cancel the season. Last time they went at it until mid-February before the lights went out for good and even then there was a last-ditch effort to revive the season the following week. The widely held belief is that the league won't wait that long this time around. So, best guess, mid-January? For me, if there's no hockey by Christmas I can't see how they could get a deal done at all.
During the HHOF ceremony, I read a lot of columns about potential future candidates. I keep hearing about how Jerome Iginla is a future lock to enter the HOF. Why? Jeremy Roenick's numbers are better and he's not in. Is there still a canadian bias when it comes to who gets into the Hall?
Scott Burnside (1:29 PM)
Rich; Honestly I've never heard any discussion yet about whether Jarome Iginla is a lock for the Hall or not. He's got more time left to build his case although his scoring title and a share of the goal-scoring title are pretty good starts along with his international play. As for a Canadian bias don't think that's an issue at all. There are lots of reasons to quibble with the selection committee's decisions (no Pat Burns, no Fred Shero, no Brendan Shanahan) but being Canadian-centric isn't one of them in my opinion.
Stephen (New York)
I can't believe how much is going to happen in 2013-14. New Dallas Stars look, the Arizona Coyotes, and the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Scott Burnside (1:31 PM)
Stephen; Hard to believe that a year from now we'll be in full pre-Olympic mode. Recall the buzz leading up to the Winter Classic in Boston where the U.S. unveiled its team for Vancouver. Pretty exciting. As for new-look Stars and the Arizona Coyotes, I'm all for it. Wouldn't mind a preview sometime before the fall of 2013 though.
In Tim Thomas's defense, all the big government we have here in the States, and they can't force the NHL and players to come to an agreement? COME ON!
Scott Burnside (1:33 PM)
Joe; Wouldn't that be something if this thing gets settled by a federal mediator? At this stage I think we'd settle for involvement from any level - CIA anyone? - that might get these two sides to see the light.
Mark (San Jose)
Hi Scott, would you please explain to me why Gary Bettman would risk the union decertifying. If the players were to win and the CBA was nullified, wouldnt that indicate that he has lost toal control of the league? Could he survive such a thing?
Scott Burnside (1:35 PM)
Mark; The thing with decertification is that no one really knows exactly what would happen if it ever got to court. The NFL and NBA settled before it got to that point and while the potential damage to the league in terms of court-appointed damages could be catastrophic there's also the risk to the players they could lose which would essentially destroy the PA. I've had it described to me as being like a jar of nitro; big bang just not sure when it'll go off or who gets hurt by it. That said, the threat of decertification is a serious one and not sure it's a coincidence that after a lot of discussion about the possibilities that the two sides agreed to mediation.
If this thing gets through the All Star break, they should just have a double elimination tournament for the Stanley Cup (NCAA baseball style) instead of a 40 game season or whatever. A shortened season is just going to lead to a lot of injuries and sloppy hockey.
Scott Burnside (1:36 PM)
Tom; Love that idea. Of course owners and players will be hungry for as many games as possible to drive up the revenues that they'll be splitting so don't think it will happen. But would love to see some interesting wrinkles thrown into the mix in an effort to help forget the madness of this fall and I don't mean a lame message painted at center ice.
Funny how the officials dont take jobs over seas in support of the NHLPA, but the players have no problem doing it.
Scott Burnside (1:37 PM)
Tom; Officials aren't supporting one side or the other they just decided amongst themselves that they wouldn't take officials' jobs in other leagues. They, as one would expect, remain an interested (and unpaid sadly) third party to the dispute.
Scott, could you please explain what decertifying entails? Thanks..
Scott Burnside (1:40 PM)
Rich; Abridged description decertification is a strategy by a union that feels it can't get a deal done with an employer and they essentially disband the union after which the players would go to court as individuals to argue the owners are in violation of anti-trust laws. If successful the punitive damages can be tripled and can be, as one lawyer told me, catastrophic. It's a huge hammer but it's also risky because players are essentially destroying the safety bubble of the union.
Nick C (San Jose)
Scott, if the league does come back, how much action do you think we'll see with player movement (trades, releases, waiver pick ups)? And can you explain how trading salary cap space works? Thanks
Scott Burnside (1:44 PM)
Nick; There is a lot of uncertainty how a shortened (most folks believe it would be seven or eight days) training camp would work. Would NHL teams call up players already playing in the AHL for camp? As for trades etc. Not sure there would be much of that until things got going but it would all be a bit of a blur. As for trading cap space I assume you're talking about Brian Burke's favorite topic being able to pay part of a player's salary when dealing him. So, if Vancouver wanted to trade Roberto Luongo they could agree to pay a portion of his salary to make him more marketable. Same amount of money gets paid to the player thus no impact on hockey revenues or to the player but GMs believe it would be a lot easier to make deals especially at the deadline if teams were able to eat some salary as they were before the last CBA.
Plus if they do decertify that will only lengthen the work stoppage. At that point they can't even collectively bargain.
Scott Burnside (1:45 PM)
CC; Well, the threat of decertification played a role in deals being reached with the NBA and NFL and their players. But you're right, it's a process if entered into could take literally years to sort out. That's another factor in the players being cautious about going down that road.
Speculation over here that if nothing happens after the governers meeting the 5/12, then we wont have a season. Your take?
Scott Burnside (1:45 PM)
Kent; Too early I think.
Scott, Do you know what owners and players are at the meetings today? If any?
Scott Burnside (1:46 PM)
Dan; The two sides are back in mediation. And amazingly enough the location remains secret. Lots of conjecture that it's in Washington but have heard otherwise. They started at 11 this morning though.
David (Port St. Lucie)
Should us Panthers fans be concerned about Jacob Markstrom's mediocre stats in the AHL so far?? He has had enough time to adjust to the game over here. Could it be a result of his knee injuries?? I'd like to think that his AHL stats are a blip, and he will be much stronger once he gets starter's minutes in Sunrise.
Scott Burnside (1:48 PM)
David; I think it's unwise to judge players by how they play at the AHL level or in Europe during a lockout. Obviously an organization wants to see some sort of evolution from its players. Jason Spezza, Mike Cammalleri and Eric Staal among others really evolved as dominant players during the last lockout. But with goalies it's a bit different I think and he's still young and a big talent. I think the Panthers' goaltending situation is going to be interesting to watch if we have hockey this season. Does Dale Tallon make a push for Roberto Luongo? Where does Markstrom fit in? Should be fun.
Hockey question, do you think any prospects leave the CHL to join their NHL team if the lockout ends and there is a season or will they all stay with their junior clubs?
Scott Burnside (1:50 PM)
Bill; I think there would be a handful that could make the jump back to the NHL although that's another wrinkle the NHL will have to figure out vis a vis how many games could they play etc.
Where do you see Tim Thomas ending up ?? He want be back in Boston ?
Scott Burnside (1:54 PM)
Bill; Such an interesting situation. You wonder how a guy who will turn 39 next April will be able to jump back into NHL action if that's what he wants to do. But he might not be any different than any player of his generation trying to get back to NHL level after a lost season. Hard to imagine him anywhere but Boston but my sense is all of the drama last season may have made it more difficult for him to simply jump back into a Bs jersey. Still, given his work ethic and his success he wouldn't be without work for long should it not work out in Boston and he does decide he's not done with hockey.
Scott, if and when there's a 48 game season, how do you see the schedule shaking out? No inter-conference games? Would the original schedule be scrapped entirely?
Scott Burnside (1:55 PM)
BK; Guessing that to reduce travel and keep things as compact as possible teams would play exclusively in conference. The only caveat is if they settled quickly and agreed to something like a 65 or 70-game slate in which you might see a limited out of conference component to the schedule.
Scott, Who do you think are some of the best players in the AHL that we have seen yet in the NHL?
Scott Burnside (1:59 PM)
Jason; Well I just spoke with Barry Brust who just broke Johnny Bower's shutout streak record and you could see him in a Flames' jersey. How about Justin Schultz who leads the AHL in scoring and was one of the big free agent signings for the Oilers last summer. Tyler Johnson has 13 goals in 17 games for Syracue, Tampa's AHL affiliate. Tomas Tatar who had a brief look with the Wings has 10 goals. Have to imagine that some of these kids will get a real running start on an NHL season if there is one. Should be fun.
Scott, Whos decission was it to bring in mediators and is there any regulation that requires both sides to abide by their decission?
Scott Burnside (2:00 PM)
Mark; The mediators invited the two sides and they accepted. It's non-binding but it's something.
Scott Burnside (2:01 PM)
Okay folks time to wrap. Thanks as always for dropping by. Maybe next week we'll have real NHL hockey to talk about. We can dream, no? Until then.