Wednesday, February 16, 2005

DROP-DEAD COVERAGE

Links to sources of NHL lockout news on this important day:

TSN
Sportsnet
The Score
CBC News
ESPN

PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE AS OF 11:43 AM EST:
1 PM- NHL- Commissioner Gary Bettman
3:00 PM- Toronto Maple Leafs
4:00 PM- NHLPA- Bob Goodenow and possibly others from Harbour Castle, Toronto

SEASON ON THE BRINK

The worst labour disruption in NHL history either ends today or becomes the worst labour disruption in the history of sports. One or the other. If a season gets resumed it will be 28 games, or roughly 1/3rd of the length the season is supposed to be. And if the season gets cancelled today the NHL will look like the league that truly can't shoot straight after this week of letters, silliness and incompetence. Even if a deal gets done, fans are mad that it took this long for people to start compromising.

Well, apparently the compromises are over. At the moment Sportsnet is reporting that the league may move off its hard 42.5 stance but TSN is reporting that the general managers are being informed that the league is shutting down. Word is that the union will not move from 49 million soft cap, period.

So unless the league makes some kind of miraculous offer, this is probably the end of the season.

The word we hear on the radio from the FAN 590 is that the 49 million soft cap was a really tough sell and the players are having a tough time even accepting the cap. There's a general feeling of "why the hell were we out since September if we gave up the salary cap?"

Only good thing about this press conference is that the American media are finally on to the story. Listened to XTRA from Los Angeles and Lee Hacksaw Hamilton talked about the lockout; the only problem was none of the listeners wanted to talk about the lockout. All they wanted to talk about was the San Diego Chargers or Jose Canseco's steroid accusations. The Americans are STILL angry at the sport of baseball. They may be angry at hockey, too, but there's a big difference. With baseball, fans sound off with their mouths and don't go to games. With hockey, they simply ignore the entire sport.

Sportsnet is still running its countdown clock and calls it Countdown to Shutdown; but this press conference may still not start on time or could even be cancelled. The other thing is that they call it Countdown to Shutdown, but the league is already shut down. So it's more like Countdown to the Total Destruction of the Sport.

CTV News has learned that the season will be cancelled at the 1 PM press conference. That is the report I am hearing on the noon-hour news. The news on every channel in Canada is leading with the lockout.

If there's breaking news about any last-minute rescue of the season, and at this late stage it looks completely bleak, I'll report it.

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