Marek Vs. Wyshynski Radio: Truth and lies in the NHL lockout, with John Shannon of Sportsnet

19 Oct

It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Stars: Marek and Wysh talk with John Shannon of Sportsnet to get an insider's perspective on the NHL and NHLPA proposals to end the lockout.

• Getting the two sides to 50/50.

• Why Marek is a positive Pete about all of this.

• Roberto Luongo and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

• News and notes from about the hockey world.

Question of the Day: Assign percentages of blame to the NHLPA and the NHL for the lockout, and why.

Email your answers to or tweet them with the hashtag #MvsW to @jeffmarek.

Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

Tags: , gettin, John Shannon, Marek, , , Roberto Luongo, Sportsnet, , , truth
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The Vent: Protesting the lockout by cheering harder for the Leafs, partying

18 Oct

THE VENT is a forum for rants, raves, pleas and laments from hockey fans across the world about the NHL lockout. It runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If you've got a take on the lockout and need to let it out, email us at .)

Wouldn't it have been nice if this feature came to an end today? It was a nice thought, but it didn't, so here are some thoughts that aren't quite as nice.

Ryan F. won't sit idly by and do nothing. He's got a brand-new protest: he will only watch Toronto Maple Leafs from here on out. It's kind of like a hunger strike, but with more suffering, I guess.

I'll keep this short. So here we are once again. The NHL season is supposed to be underway but alas it is not. You know, the last couple of weeks fans like me have been told how we can stop this lockout. I've seen people and even hockey media suggest I unfollow the NHL/NHLPA on social media sites, stop buying tickets/merchandise or even stop being a hockey fan altogether. I'm not going to do any of those things. I am not naive enough to think that I could have any effect on ending this lockout. I am going to do something though, not from pressure but simply based on what I feel.

You know the old saying "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." I was willing to let the last lockout slide because I was told it was necessary to fix the systemic problems with the league. I bought that and boy was I dead wrong. How else would we be back here once again? I live in Toronto where like so many people I live and breathe the Maple Leafs. My father is a Leafs fan and my grandfather was too. I watch every game on TV that I am capable of viewing and through winning and losing (mostly losing), I support them. I try and get out to a couple games a year at the ACC but usually I cannot afford tickets. Remember in the last lockout when you claimed we would have lower ticket prices under a new agreement? Again, you won't fool me twice.

Look, I'm always going to be a Leafs fan until the day I die. I will continue to watch every Leafs game I can whether they return in 2012, 2013 or 2014. But here's what I will not do. I will not be watching other NHL games. I won't be watching Calgary vs. Edmonton or Detroit vs. St Louis. I'm done with that. Instead I'll be watching the NFL, MLB, NBA and heck even the AHL. This is not a threat or a form of protest. This is simply the reality of taking your fans for granted. It doesn't matter how big or small your role is in this. Whether you are Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr, Sidney Crosby or Shawn Thornton you have reduced a former NHL fan into just a Leafs fan. Stop posturing and negotiate like civilized people who have influence over the lives of so many who are hurt not only emotionally but financially but this lockout. You know them right? They are the broadcasters, writers, bars, mascots and concession workers. I believe there are a lot of people who share my sentiment and that's not good for anyone. Time to grow up and do what is right. Drop the puck.

Angela H. also cooked up a unique way to protest the lockout. A party.

To mourn the loss of opening night, some of my hockey friends and I had a F#%k the Lockout Party this past weekend. Beer, nachos, classic Bruins games on the TV, and A LOT of bitching.

My amazingly talented friend Stephanie brought over this cake, and I just had to share it.  It pretty much says it all!

Pro-tip: If your protest involves cake, you're protesting the right way.

And finally, Nicole H. wants to do something, but she doesn't know what to do but share with us her despair:

I first fell in love during the summer of 2003 while paying a visit to my Midwestern relatives. I had lived my whole life (to that point) unaware I was related to die hard hockey fans. Then I sat down to watch a playoff game with my Pépère, and found myself instantly hooked.

I picked up right where I left off the following season, determined to learn all I could. Having just moved to the DC area I became a Caps fan (which, given my timing, was both a show of incredible dedication and stupidity). I have bled black and bronze/red, white, and blue ever since. I count down the days till prospect camp, then rookie camp, then training camp. Between the league and third party ticket sites I pay huge mark ups to see the occasional game on my teacher's salary (if only I would take the player's advice and just get a better paying job). I came back after the first lockout, even though I had barely had any time to invest myself in the sport. But this time is different.

I can't say I am giving up forever- that would be ridiculous. And I am still a hockey fan- I bought AHL Live in anticipation of the worst to get me through the winter. But my heart just doesn't feel in it for the NHL right now.

My husband tells me I'm nuts and maybe I'll feel different the moment the improbable actually happens. But for now all I want to do is stick it to the NHL and NHLPA. But how? I'm thinking "opening night" boycott. Wouldn't that be nice to see the fans say "screw you, we'll come back when WE are good and ready". But alas, hockey fans are well dressed crack heads. So I will be left with the ability to do little more than sit in the corner like a petulant child till I feel like I've made my point. That always works out well...

Tags: , , , , Maple Leafs, , , protest, ,
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Shawn Horcoff: Gary Bettman’s ‘blatant lie’ about caring for NHL fans

16 Oct

You can understand Shawn Horcoff's frustration with the NHL lockout.

The Edmonton Oilers forward is 34 years old. He's scheduled to make a base salary of $6.0 million in 2012-13, and his annual wage tumbles to $4 million and then $3 million the final two years of his 6-year contract — and that's before whatever type of rollback the NHL ends up winning in this round of CBA talks.

Horcoff's deal is kind of creative accounting the owners and GMs perfected since the salary cap was implemented, and are now attempted to eliminate in this work stoppage. So he feeds from one hand and gets punched in the face by the other. It's rather jarring, we imagine.

So Horcoff, who has been an active member of the NHLPA, isn't a fan of the lockout. Or the NHL's brass. Or Gary Bettman and Bill Daly in particular, as he revealed to Craig Custance of on Monday:

"It's the same thing every time with the owners. [Commissioner Gary Bettman's] first defense is to cancel games and test the players. There's been no effort to negotiate on his stance. Their negotiation is 'The players have to come down to us or we're not moving at all,' " Horcoff told ESPN The Magazine. "Gary has forced the players' hand into this situation and frankly, he's [ticked] us off. I think at the start, that first offer they gave out, that was a big, big mistake on Gary's part."

Well, yeah. There's no question about that, given that the players still believe the NHL's offer includes a 24-percent rollback. It could be argued that the NHL's initial offer — made with an eye towards starting the talks — set the CBA negotiations back weeks, maybe months.

But Horcoff also doesn't buy that the NHL actually cares about the paying customer in this dispute.

From ESPN:

"I sit there and read Gary and Bill's comments about, 'We feel sorry for the fans.' Well, I find that really hard to believe," Horcoff said. "I think it's a blatant lie, personally. I don't feel they feel sorry for the fans at all. Gary feels like no matter what, [the fans are] going to come back and couldn't care less if they're frustrated with this. He's going to do what it takes to get the best deal and couldn't care less what they feel."

There are a few ways to read Gary Bettman's affinity for fans, or lack thereof. Does he take us for granted? Of course, as does the rest of the NHL, blind to the damage this work stoppage is doing to its core audience.

Does Gary Bettman care about what fans think? Not about him, for sure. But he does have a general interest in the fans' likes and dislikes about the game? Sure; why else hire Frank Luntz to find out what we believe during the lockout?

But to Horcoff's point: Does Gary Bettman feel sorry for the fans?

Probably as much as the players do.

s/t Kukla

Tags: , , , , , , , rollback, Shawn Horcoff,
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Golf-NHL lockout the sole black cloud on Blixt’s horizon (Reuters)

15 Oct
Oct 15 (Reuters) - Having grown up as a 'wannabe' ice hockey player, Swedish golfer Jonas Blixt has been totally frustrated by the cancellation of the first two weeks of the 2012-13 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season. While Blixt is riding a wave of exhilaration after winning his first PGA Tour title at the Open in San Martin, California on Sunday, the NHL lockout has become an ugly black cloud on his personal horizon. ...
Tags: black cloud, Blixt, , , ice hockey player, Jonas Blixt, , , , , ,
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NHL CBA offer talk; Hockey Canada guitar; office chair hockey (Puck Headlines)

15 Oct

Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• Via reader Arnold Klassen: "I know it's not a jersey foul, but I'm not sure what to call it - a guy that I work with builds guitars as a hobby." We'd call it awesome.

• Might the NHL be the next one to make an offer, rather than the NHLPA? []

• The NHLPA misses its first paychecks today, according to Ken Campbell: "The $297,297 Kovalchuk missed today is money he will never, ever get back. And the more cheques he misses, the better the deal is going to have to be for the players to justify him sitting out. And unlike the owners, the players can direct their leadership to get a deal done regardless of how disadvantageous it is to them." [THN]

• Eddie Olczyk, Mike Modano and Lou Lamoriello go into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame tonight. Eddie O. on what it means to be an American hockey player right now: "We have the ability to be the best at this game, and the more numbers that we have and the opportunities, we're going to prove that. We don't have to play second fiddle to anybody anymore." [Sun Times]

• Great stuff by Heika on Modano: "There was no question that the Hall induction ceremony should have been in Dallas, where Modano turned a city — and really an entire area of the country — on to hockey. When he arrived in 1993, there were a couple of sheets of ice and a spare men's league here and there. Now, there are youth leagues, high school leagues, adult leagues and pro leagues." [Dallas News]

• Is Pat Brisson planning another barnstorming tour of NHL stars led by Sidney Crosby during the lockout? [Pensburgh]

• Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand on his lack of urgency to play in Europe during the lockout: "Guys like me and [Gregory Campbell] are built like Greek gods, so we don't really need to go anywhere else to play." Awesome. [CSNNE]

• The Onion has some fun with the NHL lockout and Gary Bettman, who is "quoted" as saying: "We get calls every single day from people who are begging us to keep this thing going. People just can't wait to see more regular season hockey games canceled." [The Onion]

• In case you missed it: Hockey ref/airport bomb joker Peter Friesema has been suspended indefinitely. [Duluth News Tribune]

• Kevin Smith on the NHL lockout: "You should never have a lockout. You fight if you must. You work without a contract. But stop play all together? I'm 42 years old and I've seen enough hockey to exist a year or two without. But what happens to your kids? My [Los Angeles] Kings just won the Stanley Cup but now there is no hockey. How do you explain that to a 9-year-old? I get it. It's a money game. People got to get paid. It's the beautiful simplicity based on people saying, 'I need my cut, my percentage.' I get it. People want to make money. But they need to think about the audience. Without the audience, you ain't got no money." [ESPN … and "his" Los Angeles Kings?! Sorry Edmonton and New Jersey]

• Scott Burnside on the collection of hockey stars trying to take the Allen Americans to the next level. [ESPN]

• What the NHL lockout means for Canadians: Many more babies conceived, if and when they put down their video game controllers. [Business Insider]

• The AHL has gotten an early attendance boost from the NHL lockout: "The average attendance of the first 27 games over the weekend was 6,238. This was a 600 per game increase over the average crowd of 5,638 for AHL regular-season games last year." [CBC]

• Here's Justin Glock on "The Last Gladiators", a hockey fighting documentary: "After viewing The Last Gladiators and seeing the negative effect fighting has on enforcers, and the fact that fighting is the sole job of a select few players, NHL teams should stop employing those players who do not have typical NHL hockey skills and are paid strictly to fight. Let fighting take place when a player, who possesses typical NHL hockey skills, loses their cool with an opponent. Enforcers know that for each game they play, everyone is expecting them to fight, and at the very least, fight their opponent's enforcer. This type of fighting should be consider rehearsed. Fighting needs to happen and not be planned. For this reason, the NHL needs to address fighting in their league and keep teams from signing players who are only on a team to fight, and would not otherwise play if not for being an enforcer. Issues such as employing an enforcer strictly for fighting should be brought to the forefront of the NHL agenda after what The Last Gladiators teaches us all." [The Hockey Writers]

• "Nebraska-Omaha officials have proposed to build a 7,500-seat arena at the south end of UNO's campus that would be the Mavericks' new home for hockey, basketball and volleyball, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald." [USCHO]

• In which Sidney Crosby anoints Connor McDavid a star. [Buzzing The Net]

• Finally, here is office chair hockey at its finest. We see no reason why this can't be added to the All-Star Skills Competition. Hell, make it players vs. owners.

IIDEX 2012 Chair Hockey Highlights from hitplay on Vimeo.

Tags: enforcer, Gladiators, Hockey Canada, , , NHL HOCKEY, , ,
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Joe Thornton expects to play full season in Switzerland, thanks to NHL lockout

12 Oct

During a public relations offensive, it's difficult to separate the truth from the spin.

The National Hockey League Players Association has been laying it on thick since the summer — the latest example being the "hey, look at the NHL players that just so happened to drop in on a youth hockey practice, wearing their #ThePlayers jerseys!" campaign on Twitter.

Part of the players' PR front from the start: Leaving for Europe en masse, to show the owners they're in this CBA battle for the long haul.

But after they arrived there, things have gotten tricky: When we hear Alex Ovechkin or Ilya Bryzgalov talk about staying in the KHL even when the lockout is settled, is that the from the heart or more union marching orders being parroted?

When Rick Nash of the New York Rangers left for Davos in the Swiss League, he said there was a chance he'd play there for the full season — just like he did in 2004-05.

His teammate, then and now, was Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. In an interview with Berner Zeitung, Thornton became the latest NHL star to cast doubt on the season:

Q. Today (Thursday, Ed) should have started the NHL season. Got news on lockout ending?

THORNTON: No. I am in contact with some people, but there is nothing concrete. I'm now expecting to play the whole season in Switzerland.

"Expecting" could probably mean "prepared to", but either way the pessimistic message from Thornton is clear. The only question is whether it's from the heart, from the NHLPA handbook or perhaps it's a way to sell more Davos swag by convincing the locals they're not part-timers.

s/t Andreas Boos

Tags: , Association, , Joe Thornton, , National Hockey League Players' Association, , , NHL season, Switzerland, , youth
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Dominik Hasek, 47, retires for a third time after failing to receive NHL offer

09 Oct

Back in June of 2008, Dominik Hasek retired from the NHL at age 43 for the second time after 16 seasons. At the press conference, he noted he lacked the motivation to continue playing at a high level — a level that earned him a treasure trove of honors including two Hart Trophies, six Vezina Trophies, two Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal.

A little over four years since that first retirement announcement, Hasek is set for another one, and this time it feels final. In an exclusive interview with iSport Hasek, 47, says it's unlikely he'll play again after failing to receive an offer from an NHL team.

From iSport (translated):

"I prepared, I wanted to play. But for what I was studying (return to the NHL), it did not work. I do not see that it has changed," he explained in a video interview for "I wanted to do everything possible to get back to the NHL, but the other party did not feel like me. Finally I decided it's not worth it," said Hasek.

Via a translation:

"It's very sad," Hasek told Sport. "But there is nothing you can do. I realized that it's time to retire."

In March of 2011, Hasek said he wanted to play one more year in the KHL, but no offers came his way. This past March, he stated that if he didn't receive an adequate contract by June, he would retire. Over the summer, with the talk of retired players like Mike Modano and Georges Laraque making comebacks as well, Hasek began training with Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga -- the team he played for in his youth -- in hopes of enticing offers from NHL teams.

Reportedly, two of the teams Hasek's camp had spoken with included the Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes, but the lockout and full AHL rosters at the moment put those discussions to a halt. "I see no reason why I would now suddenly be someone they want in the NHL," Hasek said.

Had there not been an NHL lockout, maybe a team brings him to training camp for PR or to create a competition among their netminders. Maybe. But knowing the kind of fitness freak the future first ballot Hall of Famer Hasek is, a trait that allowed him to play competitively until age 47, it wouldn't surprise us if he's found lacing them up again somewhere in Europe in the future.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

Tags: Dominik Hasek, Hart Trophies, iSport, iSport Hasek, , motivation, , , , , Vezina Trophies
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NHL lockout forces canceled games through Oct. 24 (Yahoo! Sports)

04 Oct

FILE - In this May 15, 2012, file photo, ice covered hockey pucks are shown at the New Jersey Devils practice rink in Newark, N.J. The NHL said Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, that it has canceled the hockey season through Oct. 24, a total of 82 games, because of the ongoing lockout. The NHL and the players' union are unable to decide how to divide $3 billion in hockey-related revenues. There have been negotiations in recent days, but the sides have not gotten any closer to an agreement on core economic issues.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- What seemed inevitable for the NHL has become reality. The league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season on Thursday, the second time games have been lost because of a lockout in seven years.

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The Vent: Boycotting NHL sponsors; how lockout slows momentum in U.S.

02 Oct

THE VENT is a forum to rants, raves, pleas and laments from hockey fans across the world about the NHL lockout. It runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If you've got a take on the lockout and need to let it out, email us at .)

Our first rant comes from "Pickett," with a call for NHL sponsor boycotts until the lockout is settled.

I won't be angry over the lockout until Oct. 11 has come and gone without a puck dropping on NHL ice. Obviously we, as fans, don't have any say in the lockout. We can scream and make threats about never returning all we want, but we'll be back.

I hate to say it, but we'll be back. I'll cancel my subscription to Gamecenter Live for a couple weeks, I may even miss the first few weeks through pure indignation, but I'll be back.

We're pawns in this game, but there are angles for leverage. For instance, the NHL proudly displays their marketing partners on their website.

If we had a large and vocal enough boycott of the sponsors of this buffoonery, we could get the corporations to do our work for us. In addition to the NHL's partners, the NBC suckers that signed a contract to show 1 month of hockey then lose their premier sport should be weighing heavily on Gary's actions.

Teams with local sponsors, arenas with naming rights, etc. should all be targeted by fans for a loud rejection of their products and services until they can get their partner back in line. If you go to your favorite team's website and see the ads plastered all over the site, write those people and let them know you've stopped using their products due to their financial support of the lockout. Maybe send the video from "Strange Brew" of the dad asking the McKenzies, "They spent their allowance on this, just what am I supposed to tell 'em?"


Bridgestone, Cisco, Compuware, Coors Light, EA Sports, Enterprise, The Hockey News (Sorry!!!), Gatorade, Lays, Only Vegas (?), Molson Canadian, Panini, Pepsi Max (Not Diet Pepsi?), Reebok, Westin, Sirius, Ticketmaster, Upper Deck, Bell, Hershey's, Canadian Tire, ScotiaBank, Visa, Tim Hortons, Discover Card, Geico, Honda, McDonalds, Verizon.

OK, this is all well and good, but … Canadian Maple donuts from Timmy's are our crack-rock.

Here's Dave, making the same call:

Puckdaddy, since the '94 lockout I have only attended two NHL games here in Calgary. The last game was an afternoon game vs. the Preds that has turned my daughter off of hockey almost completely.

My simple suggestion for those who want to "boycott" the NHL is do it via social media. A lot of "market analysts" are using social media data mining and page hit etc. to determine what a brand is worth and boycotting all NHL web site and blogs (except for puck daddy of course) is the quickest easiest way to let your feelings be known.

Yay! We avoided the boycott!

"OvechkinFan99" played Gary Bettman mode on NHL 13:

Here is "valued customer," riffing off Anthony's VENT regarding a phone campaign against the NHL:

I liked Anthony's idea of a calling campaign but think it could be tweaked to be more effective. The owners and players are arguing over revenue's that come from fans: Fans are customers! I don't believe it does much good to call them millionaires/billionaires but it would do good to tell them what the effects of a lockout will be. Emailing and calling your favorite franchise and telling them respectfully and specifically what effect the lockout will have on their revenues should be effective, they are crunching those numbers both long and short term right now so it is at the top of their minds. Impassioned pleas from fans to get back to the game will only strengthen their perception those fans will return no matter what.

Here are my specific suggestions and I will be sending these to the Buffalo Sabres today:

"If there is a lockout (regular season), when you return to work I plan as a customer to reduce my normal spending by X percent this year and growing the longer the stoppage continues. I will inform your sponsors, advertisers and TV networks of the same intent. I normally attend X games per year, buy X dollars worth of merchandise and support your sponsors over their competition with my loyalty and business. I will encourage my family, friends and acquaintances to do the same as a customer of yours I expect you to resolve your internal issues if you expect to keep my business."

Interesting threat; but would enough fans follow through?

Finally, here's Jim Wiley on how the lockout is hurting hockey's growth in the U.S.:

The owners are selectively ignoring whole aspects of the NHL and hockey in general all because it is not easily monetizable - the value of hockey in the media. They are looking to the past and thinking of last year's legers. They invoke "it's the sweater not the number on it"  and forget the damage to the brand they are causing. And it has been a struggling brand.

It is hard to honestly say NHL hockey is the 4th-ranked sports brand in the USA.

The last lockout caused us, the loyal hockey fan, to lose ESPN broadcasts that are just now being equaled by NBC. And NBC is, or now possibly was, planning to use NHL hockey to boost its NBC Sport channels primetime. They are burning bridges. Broadcaster and sponsors put a lot of money and effort into marketing and cross-brand associations and campaigns. The league needs to keep its advances with NBC Sports Network and weekends on NBC. Every time they do this, it takes years to get those sponsors and time slots back. Then more time to build the new fans back and loss of committed die hard fans being added to the pool. The loss of a year of youths not starting hockey because there was no exposure at a impressionable age. TV/Internet is where the sport needs to grow and grow revenues - as many have pointed out buildings only hold a finite number of fans.

The league, player, fans, media, etc. are also forgetting another issue that is helping hockey grow - improvements in broadcast quality and TV's. More people are getting a casual interest in hockey because of TV media exposure - the Olympics, the gimmicky outdoor games, excited hockey fans in bars, bandwagon effect (for playoff teams), for some less fighting, etc..

One of the biggest things that has been happening in the lower 50, at least, is that more games and markets are rolling out HDTV broadcast and at higher and higher resolutions. The fans are also getting larger higher resolution HD TV's. New building have better camera locations too.

Any person I have taken to a live NHL hockey game loves it. It is colorful, bright, fast, physical and they love the energy of the game. They see the puck and can follow it like basketball or soccer. HDTV is giving us that connection to first time viewers to a lesser degree but to many more people during a single broadcast/game.

The owners talk to the players about the effect of hold out time, and where the point of diminishing returns is for a single season is for their labor deal.

What about their point of diminishing returns for media and brand related revenues? The value of their franchises? The value of the NHL?

Well, those are all things both sides seem willing to risk. (That said, we think the NBC deal is going to be unaffected by the lockout; are you telling us that NBC and the NHL didn't have a conversation about the lockout before signing their deal?)

Tags: boycott, , Canadian, , NBC, , NHL HOCKEY, , site, website
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