NHL Lockout Views

Thomas Boswell wrote this in the Washington Post last week regarding the NHL lockout:

“Hiring Don Fehr, the Sun Tzu of jock labor, to face NHL owners in a lockout is like getting the Godfather to help you fix a parking ticket.”

The thrust of his column was that when the NHLPA hired Donald Fehr as their leader, the NHL owners were consigned to second-class status at the negotiating table and that they had better get themselves a deal soon or Fehr would destroy them in the new CBA. Clearly, Thomas Boswell thinks very highly of Donald Fehr. So, perhaps he might provide some answers to two simple questions:

    If Fehr is the master of all this, why have his clients already lost almost 30% of the salaries that they were scheduled to make this year?

    Moreover, how will Fehr via his protracted negotiations get that money back for his clients?

I think a more sensible and balanced view of what is going on in those negotiations is held by Steve Simmons as stated in his column in the Toronto Sun:

“According to Gary Bettman, the NHL is losing $18 million every day they’re not playing. The first nine weeks of the season have now been cancelled, so do the math: On how much the league is leaving behind, how much the players aren’t getting paid, and explain again what in the hell is going on, and why?”

I closed yesterday’s rant with a comment about Danica Patrick’s upcoming divorce. I do not mean to make light of divorce because I have too many friends who have gone through divorces and found them to be extremely difficult times in their lives. Nevertheless, Danica Patrick is and continues to seek to be a highly recognized public figure so I do not think that it is completely off base to note that once she is divorced, she will then have one more divorce to her name than she has NASCAR victories. For someone who is nominally a racecar driver, that is not a good thing… Yes, I do know that she did win an Indy car race once.

When Patrick signed on with NASCAR, there were lots of folks who thought that she was going to be the catalyst to get NASCAR’s flagging attendance figures headed in a positive direction. As of the last figures I saw, that is not the case – even though Patrick is one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. If in fact, getting her “on the NASCAR team” was a strategically planned move by the NASCAR mavens to boost attendance, then I surely hope they have a Plan B in mind.

By the way, about a month ago, I also saw an announcement that Danica Patrick would be featured in two new Super Bowl ads for this year. I do not keep count of such things, but two new ones would have to give her a total of a half-dozen Super Bowl ads – and that is not bad for someone who does not succeed very well in her chosen field of athletic endeavor…

By now, you surely must have seen the completely botched call by the officials in the Lions/Texans game on Thanksgiving where a Texans’ runner was clearly down by contact but there was no whistle and he ran on to the end zone for a TD. When Lions’ coach, Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag, he got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a flag in a non-reviewable situation thereby rendering any review moot. Here is Bob Molinaro’s commentary on that incident in the Hampton Roads Virginian -Pilot:

“Confusing: Does anyone understand the purpose of the rule that contributed to the Detroit Lions’ loss Thursday? Why would a coach throwing a challenge flag on a scoring play negate the video review of an obvious bad call, then be ruled an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Why can’t the ref just tell the coach to pick up the flag and stick it back in his pocket? No harm, no foul.”

Here is another philosophical question with regard to the rule:

    Why is it not unsportsmanlike conduct by the runner who is down to continue to run the ball as if he were not down when he knows what happened on the play?

The Pittsburgh Steelers QB situation is grim until Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and back under center. Byron Leftwich was mediocre in his start and when he went down, the Steelers turned to Charlie Batch last week. Let me just say that after watching that game, I now understand why he was the #3 QB on the Steelers depth chart. If Roethlisberger is going to be out for a few more weeks, the Steelers have to go and find someone else to play QB if they want to remain in the playoff picture. I recognize that bringing in a guy who has not played at all this year is something just short of a panic move – but the situation in Pittsburgh is right there on the panic line and someone needs to hit the panic button.

Both of the CBs on the Seahawks face a possible 4-game suspension for violations of the NFL policy on PEDs. According to reports, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both tested positive for Adderall – an amphetamine drug normally used to treat attention deficit disorder. Both have appealed the suspension and so they are scheduled to play this week against the Bears. However, if both of them have to miss 4 games, the Seahawks’ playoff aspirations will be done.

I wrote the Jets off here about a week or two ago. Now, even Fireman Ed is giving up on the team; he will no longer lead cheers in the stadium for the Jets – and in so doing remind Jets’ fans how to spell J-E-T-S. Ed says that he has had too many confrontations with other Jets’ fans this year who think that he is on the team payroll [He denies this categorically.] because he wore a Mark Sanchez jersey to a game and fans took that as an endorsement of Sanchez as the QB. Fireman Ed says he is not on the team payroll, but he was featured in some promos touting the benefits of purchasing PSLs for Jets tickets last year.

Let me be sure that I have this straight. Fireman Ed has been an attention whore at Jets games for at least 15 years now and probably closer to 20. Now he faces a situation where some fans do not like what he does and have confronted him with that. So now, he decides to take his firehat and go home. Somehow, that is not the behavior pattern I would associate with your typical first-responder.

Finally, here is a cogent observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“And in other news, the World Series of Posers ended. Oops, I meant World Series of Poker. Sorry, Freud.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • rugger9  On November 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    As for Justin Forsett’s continuing to run, every player plays until the whistle or he can expect to get benched.

    However, your question on the rule is apt, because it seems the league doesn’t want its refs “shown up” by coaches causing delays. In this case, the flag should have been lifted because there was no indication yet that the booth would review it, and any Texans coach worth their salt would run the conversion play as fast as possible to change the situation. I’ve always seen the booth reviews come with all the decorum of a fire drill at college games which would most closely compare to the situation here with the booth intervention.

    • Doug  On November 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

      I agree with rugger9 about Justin Forsett actions. He has to play until the whistle. The reason is that sometimes the whistle doesn’t come when it should.

      This rule is clear and certainly the coaches must know it, but it seems the refs could have done just what you suggested and the correct outcome would have been reached in due time. As it is, we have a perversion of the competition.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    rugger9 and Doug:

    I completely agree that Forsett has to keep hustling until a whistle blows or he will be out of work.

    My question had to do with the NFL’s concept of “unsportsmanlike conduct”. It is “unsportsmanlike” for a coach to make it clear to the referee that he thinks a big play needs a review because he thinks they missed a call. What he really did was to forget that all scoring plays have to be reviewed. so his forgetfulness is “unsportsmanlike conduct” to the degree that he loses the opportunity to have the call “made right”.

    Meanwhile, Justin Forsett knows full well that he was down and that a whistle should have blown but he keeps his mouth shut and accepts the long scoring run that was improperly given to him. And the NFL does not see that as “unsportsmanlike conduct”.


  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Oh, by the way, Woody Paige pointed out a huge hole in the rule.

    Suppose that Gary Kubiak had seen that Forsett was down by contact but that the play was ruled a TD. If Kubiak throws the flag, that gets him a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff but it precludes a review of the play that would negate the TD run.

    So the coach throwing the flag and committing “unsportsmanlike conduct” would then be the direct beneficiary of said “unsportsmanlike conduct”. What a bad rule…

    • rugger9  On November 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      There is some betting about which coach would try that first. Easterbrook has Belichick in his TMQ column today, and I’d say that would be the most likely choice if/when he really needs it. He’s a scholar of the rules, more so than most coaches.

      The other thing about Forsett stopping would be the problem that the defense [not having heard a whistle, either] will just drill him because they can. LBs are like that.

      On the NHL lockout, it never really made any sense except in terms of sheer ownership greed. Once again a group of owners demand to be saved from themselves. It is still curious how 18 million can be lost if the TV deal is still there and no operating expenses, but perhaps that’s the new math.

      Not that I want to give Danica any more ink, just as I don’t like giving ink to the Kardashians, but there are more factors in auto racing than driver skill to winning. It seems a lot of the game is in the machines and supporting staff. The driver can be important but it’s the last link in the chain of success.

      • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm


        Some NFL coach needs to do this just to point out the utter stupidity of the rule.

        Again, my problem is not with Forsett continuing the play; my problem is that his failure to “fess up” to the fact that he was down and he had to know that was indeed “unsportsmanlike conduct”.

        The NHL lockout – given that league’s reported economics – makes about as much sense as the NFL lockout did a year ago. The difference is that the NFL and the NFLPA came to their senses and only lost the Hall of Fame Game which is of zero consequence.

        I am beginning to wonder if Danica Patrick even cares about winning any races – driving whatever style of car for whatever distance – or if all she cares about is getting an attractive photo taken before and after the race.

  • Doug  On November 28, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I wonder what the ACC has in mind with their lawsuit against Maryland. The $50 million exit fee is clearly a penalty, not a liquidated damages amount. Penalty clauses in contracts are rarely upheld in court. That said, the ACC must have a strategy that takes this expectation and uses it to their advantage.

    One of the possible outcomes the ACC seeks is to get a court sanctioned settlement that affirms the $50 million as an accurate estinate of the actual dmages, but allows Maryland to escape for less. All the other ACC members joined the suit against Maryland, so they implicitly endorsed the amount.

    It was interesting last night to watch the ACC struggle against the B1G while Maryland was one of only two ACC winners. The other was Virginia Tech, a likely next school to leave if the penalty clause is stricken from the ACC constitution.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 28, 2012 at 10:20 am


      The legal issues here are not clear to me at all so I really do not understand why the ACC has filed suit against Maryland.

      Perhaps as the case proceeds, I will read something that gives me some understanding here – and then I’ll try to say something about it.

      I do find it interesting that Maryland – a school that had to eliminate sports because its athletic department was not generating enough revenue to keep those sports afloat – is now in a situation where it might have to pony up $50M to play sports in another conference. Seems a bit strange…

      • rugger9  On November 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        I’m pretty sure the suit is a shot across the bow to remind other members they will fight. Maryland for the Big Ten does make sense in terms of the dynamics and footprint, because PSU is no longer isolated and the NYC to DC corridor is well covered. I don’t see either Maryland or Rutgers competing at a Big Ten level for a while, especially with Nebraska, OSU, Michigan, MSU, Wisconsin, and perhaps PSU and Northwestern. That’s a lot of respect to give away.

        Combine that with the overall athletic program shrinkage [and that can only go so far before the Big Ten gets unhappy, because it isn’t only football sponsored by the conferences] and the U of Maryland is in some potentially dangerous times.

        All of this may change soon, exactly how does the playoff seeding format work? As I see it the whole realignment fiasco was driven by teams trying to get into AQ conferences because of being passed over when they weren’t AQ. Does the playoff format eliminate the problem or not? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

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