Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Players Union Has Good Intentions

Asking a player not to take part in on-ice activities for their country's team is kind of like asking them to to kiss their sisters. It just not going to happen. Earlier this week, the NHLPA asked players not to take part in on-ice practices due to the possibility of injury.

The Players Union is worried about injuries and the insurance to cover said injuries. Since there is no deal between the NHL and IIHF, the country's hockey program is responsible for the players' insurance for any activity for international play. The NHL is not responsible for insuring the players.

The Union obviously is looking out for their own (as they often do) and sent out a memo asking players to not take part of on-ice practices because of "unwarranted and unnecessary risk."

While it's a strongly worded memo, the players have a different take on the subject. Via TSN.ca:
"I've skated for years and have never been hurt, so I'll be skating," said
(Joe) Thornton, who played for Canada at the 2006 Olympics.
While the PA is looking out for their own, I think they failed to realize that players are going to do what they want, memo or not. International teams need to see the boys on the ice so they can make the matchups, get the lines right and see what their own can do. Also from TSN.ca:
"We shouldn't have to worry about the business of things, but it's a fact, and the PA is there to protect everyone's interests," said New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, a three-time Olympian who admits he's confused as to why the NHLPA is more worried for this Olympics than they were in 2006. "It's just normal that they have concerns."
It means the Players Union, the NHL and the IIHF need to sit down and hammer out a deal in the coming years. If the Union and the league decide against using NHL players in international events like the Olympics, that will greatly impact players that want to play for their countries and they may go elsewhere rather than the NHL to play for their homeland. Asking Alex Ovechkin not to play in his home country in another four years might be a tough pill to swallow for the player, the league and the Washington Capitals.

This just points out the distance that the league and IIHF have to close in making a deal.

NHL Notes:
  • The Phoenix Coyotes are making a go at staying in the desert. This time there is a bid that involves both U.S. and Canadian interests that would like to keep the Coyotes where they are. Not only does it make sense (since the Coyotes signed a long term contract with the venue), but hockey in that part of the world is starting to gain some interest. If the 'Yotes can put some wins together, the stadium will fill.
  • Speaking of owners and money, Len Barrie (the part genius behind the Lightning last season) finally showed proof that he can sustain the team as a majority holder. Barrie basically took over the team with Oren Koules and tried to rebuild the team through free agency. After firing the coach, John Tortorella, and the GM, Jay Feaster, the Lightning floundered near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. There are still some rumbles that it's not new GM Brian Lawton calling the shots, but the two owners. That forced Bettman's hand to make sure Barrie had at least $10 million to maintain the team.
  • Believe it or not, but there are still a fair amount of good players that are free agents and haven't signed with a team. For the Caps, Brent Johnson, minor leaguers Alex Giroux, Graham Mink, and Bryan Helmer are still on the list as free agents. Milan Jurcina's arbitration hearing is set for July 28th.

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