The NHL and NHLPA are quickly running out of different approaches to try for their deadlocked collective bargaining agreement negotiations, knocking off yet another option this week after two days of meetings with federal mediators failed to yield any progress.
But from the ashes of this attempt rose another suggestion as to how the two sides can try to work through this mess (or for the cynics among you, how they can check off yet another attempt on their list of "things we must go through before we can cancel the entire season") - meeting without the controversial figureheads of Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman involved.
#CBA According to multiple sources Bettman proposed to D. Fehr a meeting between owners and players only, w/ no league or PA staff present.— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) November 29, 2012
Strang went on to indicate that the details of this offer aren't yet clear - will it just be one owner, the same group that has been heavily involved thus far (names like Jeremy Jacobs, Ted Leonsis and Craig Leipold) or a larger group including owners who, at least to this point, have not been involved. Those details are likely the tipping point as to whether the PA will accept this arrangement.
On the surface, it makes some sense. Both Bettman and Fehr have been lightning rods during these negotiations and are, fairly or not, seen as hindrances to the process rather than help. Of course, it could also be a sneaky ploy by Bettman to expose some dissension in the PA ranks while putting forth only owners he knows will hold the company line. Without more details, it's impossible to say which is going on here.
Also in today's links, the Dallas Stars are ranked surprisingly high in Forbes franchise value, the Phoenix Coyotes make yet another narrow escape and little Russian hockey players channel Slapshot.
- Forbes released its annual estimate of NHL franchise values and profitability this week, and the Stars are ranked slightly higher than I would have guessed in overall value. Forbes has the Stars ranked No. 13 with a $240 million franchise price tag (which, not coincidentally, is the price Tom Gaglardi paid for the team last fall). The Forbes story also illustrates the gap between the haves and have-nots, which is one of the main issues driving the lockout at this point. [Forbes]
- A friendly reminder, though, that the Forbes numbers are educated guesswork based on a confidential formula and are not to be trusted in terms of the exact numbers (particularly profit-loss ones). [mc79hockey.com]
- The flip side of that financial coin came out a few days ago, when an analysis revealed the Stars have had the fifth-greatest drop in attendance over the past five years. Given the lack of success and Tom Hicks bankruptcy issues, I can't say I'm surprised. [24/7 Wall St]
- The group of NHL players that landed in Dallas several weeks ago for practices has moved on to Phoenix for this week, including players like Brenden Morrow and Sidney Crosby. [DallasNews.com]
- Eric Nystrom is also keeping busy, joining the coaching staff of the US squad for the Maccabiah Games, which will take place next summer in Israel. [The Jewish Chronicle]
- There have already been plenty of stories on Seth Jones and his rise to the top of the draft charts for next summer. But I'm more intrigued by the nugget in this story about how his younger brother, also coming up through the Dallas youth hockey system, may also be someone to watch out for. [Toronto Sun]
- Plenty of other local products are also making names for themselves in other parts of the hockey world, including Marcus Ortiz. Any story that works a former Odessa Jackalopes junior player into the main body is an automatic win. [New York Hockey Journal]
- Back to the players already in the Stars system, here's a quick look at how the chase for a World Junior Championships roster spot is shaping up for several of them. [The Hockey Writers]
- I haven't posted many links about the saga of the Phoenix Coyotes, because frankly the entire thing has given me tired head. From Jerry Moyes' questionably-legal attempt to circumvent NHL bylaws and sell a team to Jim Balsillie to the oddly passionate opinions of Canadian fans on local Glendale, Ariz., it's almost as exasperating to track as the lockout itself. But Greg Jamison's attempt to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix took a big step forward Tuesday when the Glendale City Council voted to approve his lease. Now all he has to do is, you know, officially buy the team. [Five for Howling]
- Sad news from the Los Angeles Kings - longtime PA announcer David Courtney died unexpectedly at age 54. [Puck Daddy]
- Todd offers his take on Stars prospect and OHL goal-scorer extraordinaire Brett Ritchie. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- This is why we can't give Russian kids nice things.