If the NHL didn't see how the lockout in 2004 hurt the sport, a lockout in 2012 will make the NHL a questionable fourth major professional sport in the United States. We've gotten all too familiar with players and owners at a negotiating table over the last couple years. The NHL now takes its turn keeping teams and fans wondering how much of a season there will be in 2012-2013.
For the Buffalo Sabres, a lockout, or even a late-starting season could put plans the Sabres may have had for its rookies on hold. In June, the Sabres drafted Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons in the first round. The Russian Grigorenko and the Latvian Girgensons could seek other options to play hockey this year instead of the Sabres.
Grigorenko is the real concern. He's the higher of the draft picks and the more talented player right now. The Sabers were willing to give Grigorenko a chance at a NHL roster spot in the preseason. The Sabres don't have a center over 6-foot. At 6-foot-3, Grigorenko would be a welcomed addition.
Despite having a bad season with the Montreal Canadiens in last season, the team has decided to signed goaltender, Carey Price anyway to a six-year, $39 million contract.
Price, 24, who became a restricted free agent on Sunday, was quite pleased with the signing.
"It's an honor to put the Habs uniform on," Price said.
His $6.5 million annual average value would be third among goaltenders, trailing Nashville's Pekka Rinne ($7 million) and this year's Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist ($6.875Million). Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick earned a ten-year deal but is making less annually than Price in the new deal he signed in June.
Price's contract is the richest ever handed out by the Canadiens and could make or break the franchise's future.
Price said he doesn't think the pressure on him will be any greater because of the money he will be making. "There is tremendous amount of pressure on us no matter what were making. It might make you a target a little bit more, but being a goaltender, you're a target anyway," he said.
When does easy become too easy? It's surely our nature to relax when the path ahead seems clear; when the light shines bright because you're close to the end of the tunnel. We're all victims of leaning back a bit when things are good.
Over the weekend, the Kings lost their first playoff game in nine tries, and the first in their Western Conference matchup against the Coyotes. Not only was it their first loss of the series, but it was the first time they've been held scoreless in these playoffs. Pretty impressive stuff from a team that finished the season ranked 29th in goals scored for the regular season.
But the real question is: what does this loss tell us? We've been trained by the NBA and baseball to believe that once you hold a 3-0 lead, the series is a lock; with the Red Sox being a one-in-a-million exception. But in hockey, we've seen this phenomenon 3 times, the most recent being in the 2010 with the Flyers over the Bruins.
As the field of remaining teams challenging for The Stanley Cup continues to narrow, fans of the also-rans find themselves looking for somewhere to cast their support. This season's final four are increasingly looking like a final three (with the Phoenix Coyotes not-long for this world), neutral fans are faced with a three-way choice between the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings.
The Rangers and Devils are conspiring to play the least-exciting conference championship series in recent memory, with the games so far playing out as defensive grind-fests. When the New Jersey Devils, progenitors of the dreaded neutral-zone trap, are being referred to as the feisty and entertaining part of the matchup, you know you have a dud on your hands.
LA on the other hand, is playing a fast, dynamic and dominating style of hockey that is both physical yet sublime, losing only one of their first twelve games this post-season. Even with the LA sports spotlight being shared along with the NBA's LA Lakers and Clippers, the Kings have been embraced by the City of Angels in a way unseen since the Wayne Gretzky era.
Canada was defeated by Slovakia 4-3 in the quarterfinals of the IIHF World Hockey Championships, giving the Canadian hockey press a fresh source of faux-angst to grind as we reach the midway point between the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Canada has never warmed to the annual world tournament, due primarily to its scheduling conflict with the NHL playoffs, and the European venues which make the games inconvenient to watch live. However, this does represent the first time that Canada has lost at the quarterfinal stages in three consecutive years, leading some pundits to question Canada's commitment to its international hockey program following its epic victory at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.