[NHL] On The Blue Line

The NHL had it’s lottery selection show last Friday and it went as best as it could. For one, this thing sure wasn’t rigged, not even close to it…however, the most surprising fact is that I remained sober throughout the entire lottery selection show. Now, onto the extravaganza:

The lock out is over and here’s every hockey fan’s best friend, Gary Bettman. We’ve got rule changes!

Shopping day is tomorrow, by the way. Teams have from July 23rd to July 29th to buy out players, the players they buyout CANNOT be re-signed by the team that releases them.

Bettman starts off by announcing that the board of governors have raitified the new CBA and will bring a new era of hockey. That’s cheesy, but whatever. Bettman thanks the players for ratifying the new deal and thanks everyone for being so cooperative.

Opening night will be Oct. 5th with all teams in action that night. That’s cool. New rules:

OT: Shootout! Ok. Now my audio is failing me, get off the site, please! Yes, I’m watching the live broadcast online, no other way to do it in this country.

Bettman announces a new modified NHL logo which has been out in front of the cameras all day anyhow. Same logo as the old one but silver and black rather than orange and black. There goes the audio again, I’m betting it’s Columbus fans crowding up the site. Rick Nash AND Sidney Crosby, you people are bloodthirsty!

Due to the NHL participating in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, there will be no All-Star Game to accomodate the crowded schedule. So, no All-Star Game in Phoenix in ’06.

Shanahan and Colin Campbell join in.

Questions:

Why does Brendan Shanahan have to be out there?

I guess they didn’t hear me, they’re not answering.

Was the deal worth losing a season?

Bettman says the future is bright because the new partnership is so good, they had no choice but to get it right.

Bettman’s future?

He’s not going anywhere, he loves his job and Bill Daly isn’t going anywhere, either.

Enforcing obstruction..what makes you believe you can do it this time?

Campbell: We want the refs to make the right calls and players have to learn to accept these calls and we’ll teach and tell everyone involved what’s going to be called: players, refs and coaches.

Shanahan: The players will be a part of the decision making as to what is obstruction.

What was decided on revenue sharing and how will it be carried out?

Bettman: We could cover that elsewhere, but we look forward to all the clubs participating.

Why no 3-point win?

Bettman: It was considered, but with the number of rule changes already being made, everyone felt it could be held off for another time.

Audio is dead again and I need a beer.

Looks like I missed a question but that’s okay as it’s Campbell that’s speaking.

Anything else planned to mend the fences with the fans?

Bettman: We will be unveiling more marketing and fan friendly events as we get closer to the season. There’s a lot of work to do before the start of the season, but as we get into August and September you will be seeing more events to connect with the fans.

Changes in TV broadcasts?

Bettman: Interviews and more backstage views. More mics on players and coaches and using some more technology. The rail cam above the ice works (no, that camera isn’t very good) and will continue using the netcam.

How do fans feel about the rule changes?

Shanahan: Well, as a player you are constantly in touch with the fans when you walk down the street, but fans seemed excited, but the commitee will continue to exsist and more changes will be made as the game changes or not change certain things that might hurt the game.

Do you think the players and management owe an apology and what’s the status of the TV contract in the US?

Bettman: Well, we have consistently apologized to the fans for having to go through this. There is no shortage of regret for having to go through this difficult process. We accomplished what had to be accomplished, but we couldn’t have operated another season that way we were and we’re back and were going to make it up to you. With respect to TV, we have a very important relationship with NBC and we are confident that we’ll have a national cable deal done in the very near future.

Shanahan: Most fans don’t seem interested in an apology and more talk about what we can give them in the future. We promise a better product in the way we’re going to reward teams who play an exiciting style and players that have the skill, players have been more or less conservative in the past but the fans want more and as players we have to give them what they want.

They mention some of the rule changes:

No red line

Goal lines will be positioned 11 FT from end boards

Neutral zone reduced to 50 ft from 54 ft.

Shootout if tie remains after OT

Tag up offsides

Goalie equipment reduced in size.

How is the shootout going to work?

Shanahan: All the players I spoke to said that it’s something that could be developed and be very entertaining for the fans. Most fans have wanted to eliminate ties and a shootout was prety much the only way you could eliminate ties. We’ll be going with 3 shooters per team.

Bettman: Only for the regular season, no shootout in the playoffs.

New 82 game schedule promoting division play:

intra-division: 8 games against every team in division (32 games)
intra-conference: 4 games against every other team in the conference (40 games)
inter-conference: 10 games against the other conference (rotating divisions every season; 10 games)

This would be perfect if they forgot all the talk of playoff expansion and implented the old divisional playoffs again.

NHL DRAFT SELECTION IS NEXT!

29 teams and the Capitals, 48 balls!

Who gets the #1 pick? We find out, next!

So this Sidney Crosby, anyone actually seen him play? He was here in Los Angeles at Kings camp last year and there was good talk about him, but ANYONE else anywhere in the U.S. ever see him play? Well, you’re going to be getting a lot of him from now on, so now’s your chance to see him play.

4 teams have 3 balls: Pit, Col, Buff, NYR and thus have the best chance of drafting first.

The first ball drawn got the #1 pick.

Not even Bettman knows who got the #1 pick. Bettman not knowing something isn’t very surprising. Deputy Commish Bill Daly is introduced.

Earnst and Young has overseen the picking selection and 7-11 provided Slurpees to all the Execs.

Here we go!

#30: Tampa Bay
#29: Florida
#28: Dallas
#27: Colorado
#26: Calgary
#25: Edmonton
#24: St. Louis
#23: New Jersey
#22: Boston
#21: Toronto
#20: Philadelphia
#19: Detroit
#18: Nashville
#17: Phoenix
#16: NYR
#15: NYI
#14: Washington
#13: Buffalo
#12: San Jose
#11: Los Angeles (dammit)
#10: Vancouver
#9: Ottawa
#8: Atlanta
#7: Chicago
#6: Columbus
#5: Montreal
#4: Minnestoa
#3: Carolina
#2: Anaheim
#1: Pittsburgh

The Draft takes place on July 30th in Ottawa. Make sure not to watch.

That was pretty much what was expected out of the entire deal and ESPN not broadcasting this was for the best. There was talk that ESPN wanted the rights to broadcast this and good for the NHL for not giving in. ESPN wanted to cut ties with the league after the ‘end’ of the season that never was, so screw them. If FSN can do something about their crappy picture quality then let them jump on board.

The Flyers became first team to use the buyout option and have said goodbye to John LeClair ($6.84 million) and Tony Amonte ($4.26 million) and those salary numbers are AFTER the 24% rollback and are still insanely high. The Flyers have enough fire power to do without these two and seeing Amonte back in Chicago would be a nice move for the young Hawks. Then again I’m sure the Hawks would like Roenick, Chelios and Belfour to come back as well.

The Red Wings have placed Darien Hatcher, Darren MacCarty and Ray Whitney on waivers. If these players aren’t picked up, the Wings will probably buy them out, making them unrestricted free agents. As if Whitney ever had a shot to even have the opportunity to put up the numbers he did in Columbus.

The Los Angeles Kings held a press conference on Monday and announced how glad they are about the new CBA. The Kings have run a pretty tight ship over the last several years and this was the playing field they were hoping for. Which probably doesn’t mean much. They also announced the re-signing of Luc Robitaille who happens not be Ziggy Palffy. Nice start, though.

The Phoenix Coyotes, after learning of the cancellation of the ’06 All-Star Game that was supposed to be in Phoenix, have taken out their frustrations on Brian Savage by buying out his contract. In Montreal, Habs fans learned the news that they were expecting years ago, Patrice Brisebois will not be returning to the club due to the Canadiens declining their team option on his contract.

The Colorado Avalanche have made it clear that Joe Sakic and Rob Blake will be returning and Pierre Lacroix has tried to make it clear that he intends to bring back all their key players as well. That’s going to be fun to watch.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind for the upcoming week:

-July 28: At 5pm ET, all unsigned 2003 draft picks go back into the draft.
-July 29: Buyout period ends at 5pm ET.
-July 30: NHL Draft in Ottawa (7 rounds only, snkaing draft order).
-July 31: All qualifying offers to teams’ own free agents must be made by 5pm ET.
-August 1: Free agent signing period begins.

So it’s going to be another busy week for the league as we head into August and the free agent signing spree (which also has had changes made to it) and all the while I’ll be here to add nothing of relevance to the entire process.