The hockey world got their first surprise of the shortened 2012-13 season. Just a few days before training camps open around the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired general manager Brian Burke.
"Toronto Maple Leafs have apparently fired Brian Burke as general manager. Working on official confirmations."
It's not so much a shock that Burke was fired, but the timing of the firing. Obviously something drastic had to have happened over the last few days. If something out of the ordinary didn't happen, why did Burke keep his job before, during, and a few days after the lockout concluded? Especially after he made a key trade to beef up the strength of his forwards this offseason.
Burke sent defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward James van Riemsdyk. Both players were top five picks but ultimately haven't lived up to the hype they brought in to each franchise. Burke wanted the Leafs to be more physical, and Van Riemsdyk surely fits the bill.
Hockey fans don't owe any words to either the NHLPA or the NHL union. Neither side many any ground breaking concessions to keep the season alive. The two sides lost out on some aspects within the new deal, but gained on others.
Essentially how every contract dispute in the real world gets resolved.
But don't tell that to the two leaders, Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman, who wanted to "win" the deal outright. Hence the lockout lasting 113 days yet the new deal looking like a lot of people predicted back in September.
Thanks to federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, the two sides learned how to negotiate the correct way. It wasn't easy for Beckenbaugh, who for days went back and forth between the two sides.
Distrust over "hidden revenue" late last week almost derailed the entire 2012-13 season. As childish as it sounds, neither side could come face to face with one another. Instead of talking with Beckenbaugh in the room, he had to become the messenger.
Earlier this morning, the four month NHL lockout came to an end. After 16 consecutive hours of talking between the NHL and NHLPA an agreement was made.
Oh how sweet it is.
The final step includes three pieces of ratification. First, the NHL's Board of Governors must come up with at least 16 out of the 30 possible votes. Second, the union's executive committee must come up with at least two-thirds of the votes. Lastly, the union's membership must come up with 51% of the votes.
Of course that will happen, and the NHL will be back in business.
The only question hockey fans have now, is a question they've been asking for 113 days.
When will opening night be?
That question is still up in the air, but it will either be January 15th (50 games) or January 19th (48 games).
The deal is made just five days before Gary Bettman's season cancellation date of January 11th.
1. New General Manager: Mike Tannenbaum's time is up in New York. Over the last few seasons, Tannenbaum has failed the offense in both free agency and the draft. The lack of weapons is a severe problem for gang green. Also, the lack of depth on both sides of the ball has made injuries that much more of a problem to a team that suffered significant injuries in 2012. The major problem has been the lack of starting talent, see the 6-10 record. Trader Mike used to be known for acquiring major players but over the last two years the team has only gotten worse in part because of terrible cap management. Past cap saving moves have added up and are starting to make things difficult for the Jets to retool their team. A new general manager, preferably known for his scouting skills must come in and work on the mess that Mike Tannenbaum has left in the world of Jets nation. No general manager should ever be known for his mathematical skills with contracts rather than his ability to assess talent.
Just three weeks ago, Brooklyn was the place to be within the Basketball world.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were leading one of the most talented rosters in the game. Brooklyn was revived with the addition of the Nets, and at 11-4 the team was living up to its high expectations.
But since that superb first month of the Brooklyn era, the party has ended for Avery Johnson. After losing to the Milwaukee Bucs last night, the Nets are now 14-14.
Johnson is now jobless as he was fired earlier today.
Mikhail Prokhorov has invested a lot of money into the team, and the move to Brooklyn was supposed to put the franchise over the top. Many picked the Nets to finish in the top four of the eastern conference this season, and to keep that a reality a move a had to be made.
Firing Johnson this early in the season is a statement from Prokhorov to everyone involved. He's not going to let anyone in the organization underachieve, and Johnson is the first to find that out.