Senators News: November 19th

-Not much in the way of Sens or hockey news today, although Stu Hackel reminds us that one of the reasons Gary Bettman has such strong control over ownership is the requirement for a 75% vote among them to reject any of his recommendations.

Ian McLaren writes about Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel, and Cody Ceci, although there’s nothing new in the article.

-There was a little confusion about my comments on Marc Spector’s article yesterday, with the reaction stemming (I think) from the inflammatory prose I used–a little tactless of me, but lazy journalism tends to set me off.  The point I was making about Spector was his slipshod way of forming his argument.  He’s writing an opinion piece and in order to inform his readers and justify his views he needs to make a solid argument.  A good argument is based on fact and deductive reasoning and there is precious little of either in the article.  Given the aforementioned confusion, let’s delve fully into what those problems are.  So let’s take a walk in the world of Spector:

Led by some Gary Bettman strategies that never quite panned out, the National Hockey League owners have painted themselves into a perilous corner.

So here’s the opening statement that should guide us (the readers) into his argument: Bettman’s made mistakes (a safe assumption–we all do), and now ownership is painted into a corner.

Decisions like that [making the 1994 CBA agreement last ten years] are what led to the players raking in 75 per cent of league revenues. They resulted in salary escalation that would pay hockey players like Major League Baseball players, without the underlying economy to justify it.

We run into that Levitt Report number (link above) without citation, explanation, or exploration, along with a broad statement saying the NHL couldn’t afford the escalating salaries (another statement without exploration–although fans are likely to accept it on face value).

Yes, the NHL has grown economically to a $3.3 billion business under Bettman. But in doing so, its labour situation has been botched to the point that today’s poisonous relationship between player and owner is irreparable.

So now the NHL is a booming business (not sure how that ties in with economic troubles) and the relationship between parties is irreparable.  The latter is pure hyperbole–irreparable means they could never have a functional relationship (also implying they have had one).  I don’t think Spector means what he says here, instead I assume he’s suggesting the season might be lost, but that’s not made clear.  I don’t see any reasoning provided to prove that animosity (if it exists) means that negotiations fail in pro sports.  Has that ever happened?  How do we know?  Isn’t it all about the money?

The players are equally at fault. They and their agents — in orchestration with the NHLPA — never missed a chance to sign a ridiculous deal, to prey on some GM whose job was on the line if he didn’t improve his roster to win some games, to drive salaries through the roof.

Here Spector implies an agent is not supposed to get the person he represents the best deal.  Similarly, a GM has the power to do things his owner won’t approve of and at the same time is helpless in the face of the agents.  How do we know this is the case?  Spector doesn’t provide any reasons.  I don’t buy into the idea that GM’s get to sign deals that aren’t approved by ownership, which means its ownership agreeing to pay those contracts which they (presumably) think are worthwhile investments.  Following the logic, that would imply owners are at the mercy of agents, but that still leaves us without any evidence or reasoning to back it up.

Today, players are paying the costs for 25 years of doing what was good for themselves, yet not good for the game as a whole. They drove the NHL’s economy into the ground.

Okay, remember that economic boom mentioned earlier?  Apparently you need to forget that: players have driven the NHL’s economy into the ground.  We’ve also learned that the only thing that effects the league is player salary–attendance, TV deals, trends in national economies, etc are all completely irrelevant (how or why that’s the case isn’t explored).

as players lapped up money their owners couldn’t afford to spend

Do we know owners couldn’t afford it?  I mean, have owners gone bankrupt from their hockey operations alone?

Simply placing franchises in football states like Texas, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina doesn’t get you football money, a misguided fourth-down gamble that will surely be Commissioner Bettman’s legacy.

This is a common sentiment (hockey doesn’t work in the south), but other than Atlanta no franchises have moved and none have folded, so can we really say all those markets don’t work?  How do we define a functional franchise?  It’s not made clear.

Worse yet, the only way to make most of those markets tenable is to revenue share.

Why is revenue sharing bad?  And if it is, if it’s a dog-eat-dog world, then why is there so much concern over struggling teams–shouldn’t a good capitalist let them fail?

It’s not like the days of the Canadian Assistance Plan, when the league propped up teams in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa as the Canadian dollar plunged to 65 cents.

Here Spector is on the verge of an excellent point, but he doesn’t make it.  Why were Canadian teams struggling?  The article would suggest player salary, but here we see the principal cause: the value of the Canadian dollar.  Doesn’t that throw a wrench into the idea that salary is the only driver of economic problems in the league?  Spector doesn’t explore the issue.

The core of Spector’s sentiments rest on economic arguments, about which there are a lot of interesting (and often contradictory) statements.  These tricky issues aren’t fully explored–we never find out what corner Spector thinks the owners are painted into during the current negotiations (we have to infer it’s the animosity he talks about).  I could write more about this, but I think that’s enough on the article.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 18th; Binghamton 3, Rochester 2

-Binghamton defeated Rochester 3-2 last night in a game I was unable to watch.  Robin Lehner stood tall in making 49 saves while Derek Grant had a pair and Shane Prince scored his first professional goal (it looked like Silfverberg‘s on the replay, incidentally).  Here are the highlights.

-Elmira pummelled Trenton 5-1, with Gazley picking up three points, Caporusso, Downing, and New having singles (Cheverie served as the backup, Kramer did not play).  Here’s the recap.

-Every once and awhile Marc Spector writes a problematic column, one filled with unsubstantiated facts and assumptions.  I’ll just pick one element to illustrate the point.  In the midst of his “Bettman is bad and the players are bad” column (they just are, don’t worry about how or why), he writes

players raking in 75 per cent of league revenues

Are you sure Marc?  Only 75%?  It could be higher, right?  I mean, when we’re making up numbers, why stop at seventy-five?  [Apparently this number comes from the Levitt Report which reviews the 02-03 season–what fan hasn’t read an 85-page pdf about ten years ago, right?  Presumably Spector thinks there’s no question it is spot on, because reports don’t have bias….] This kind of thing drives me crazy.  If you are going to use numbers say where they came from and add some context–is the source credible? has it been challenged?  Instead it just serves as a piece of his completely uninformed diatribe.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 17th; Binghamton 5, Adirondack 2

-Binghamton defeated Adirondack 5-2 in a game they controlled throughout (here are the highlights).  Grant, Eckford, Cannone, Zibanejad, and Stone scored, while Bishop picked up the win.  It was a good game for Cowick who lead the way with two points; Wideman was the only minus player (-2), while Benoit lead the way at +3.  Binghamton was able to manage some aggressive play from Adirondack at the end of the second period without losing their cool.  The team’s powerplay didn’t score, but looked much better than at earlier points of the season.

-Binghamton plays Rochester tonight.  The Amerks are 8-5-1, lead by Marcus Foligno with 15 points, while David Leggio has backstopped all the team’s wins.  The B-Sens won the previous meeting 3-1.

-Elmira lost 2-1 to Trenton last night, with Downing picking up the goal, the only point by Binghamton contracted players (Cheverie took the loss).  The Jackals will battle Trenton again tonight.

Kristen Odland writes about Sens prospect Chris Driedger, who said:

I think just all around, even this year, there has been a couple games when I’m  not in the game 100 per cent because you can’t feel 100 per cent all of the  time. But even when you feel not great before a game, you have to be able to  perform. I’m just trying to work on that. Obviously, there’s games where I’m feeling really good. And most of the time  when I’m feeling pretty good, I play pretty good. I’m just trying to make sure I  feel good before games and when I don’t, making sure that it doesn’t affect my  game.

Stu Hackel debunks the notion that many owners are losing money (or at the least obfuscating the books to exaggerate their losses).  The idea is for leverage in negotiations with players and to help win the public relations battle.  This isn’t to say that no franchises are having financial struggles, but that those struggles are much more limited than is generally believed.  There’s nothing particularly surprising about this, but given how often the media echoes the struggles of ownership it’s worth mentioning.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 16th

-Binghamton plays Adirondack tonight.  The Phantoms are 6-6-0; they are lead by Brayden Schenn (with 14 points), with Scott Munroe and Cal Heeter splitting the goaltending duties.  This is the first meeting of the season between the two clubs.  Adirondack is coming off a 4-1 win over Manchester on Wednesday.

-Surprisingly, Brad Peltz has been recalled by Binghamton.  Peltz hasn’t had a point in his last five games with Elmira.

Brochenski re-visits the Sens penalty problems last year to identify the chief culprits in taking as opposed to drawing penalties (no surprise that Konopka and Carkner are in the team’s top-five; I was surprised that Gonchar was worst on the list).

Eric Macramalla explains why players permanently lose a year of salary if the season is lost.

-ISS has released their latest top-30 list for the 2012 draft (changes in brackets, the previous list can be found here):
1 – MacKinnon, Nathan – C – Halifax – QMJHL
2 – Jones, Seth – D – Portland – WHL
3 – Barkov, Sasha – F – Tappara – FinE
4 – Drouin, Jonathan – F – Halifax – QMJHL (+6)
5 – Monahan, Sean – C – Ottawa – OHL (-1)
6 – Lazar, Curtis – C – Edmonton – WHL (-1)
7 – Shinkaruk, Hunter – F – Medicine Hat – WHL (+1)
8 – Ristolainen, Rasmus – D – TPS Turku – FinE (-1)
9 – Nurse, Darnell – D – S.S. Marie – OHL (+7)
10- Lindholm, Elias – C – Brynas – SweE (-1)
11- Burakowsky, Andre – F – Malmo – SweAl (-5)
12- Nichushkin, Valery – F – Chelyabinsk Chelmet – RusS (+2)
13- Lehkonen, Artturi – F – Kuopio – FinE (-1)
14- Dickinson, Jason – F – Guelph – OHL (+12)
15- Pulock, Ryan – D – Brandon – WHL (-2)
16- Santini, Steve – D – USA U18 – NTDP (-1)
17- Hagg, Robert – D – Modo – SweJE (-6)
18- Erne, Adam- F – Quebec – QMJHL (-1)
19- Zadorov, Nikita – D – London – OHL (-1)
20- Rychel, Kerby – F – Windsor – OHL (+1)
21- De La Rose, Jacob – C – Leksands – SweAl (-1)
22- Thompson, Keaton – D – USA U18 – NTDP (NR)
23- Kujawinski, Ryan – C – Kingston – OHL (+7)
24- Fasching, Hudson – F – USA U18 – NTDP (+1)
25- Morrissey, JT – D – Prince Albert – WHL (-3)
26- Gauthier, Frederik – C – Rimouski – QMJHL (-3)
27- Crus-Rydberg, Viktor – C – Linkoping – SweJE (NR)
28- Theodore, Shea – D – Seattle – WHL (NR)
29- Compher, JT – C – USA U18 – NTDP (-10)
30- McCoshen, Ian – D – Waterloo – USHL (NR)
Falling out of the top-30: Stephen Harper, Pavel Buchnevich, Bo Horvat, and Mike Downing.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 15th

-In the wake of Jared Cowen‘s surgery Nichols takes a look at Mike Lundin‘s numbers over the last few years, trying to determine what kind of option he is in the lineup.  His conclusion is the same as the sentiment when he was signed–a decent depth defenseman if he can stay healthy.

-Elmira lost 2-1 in OT to Reading last night, with all the Binghamton signed players silent except Kramer who picked up an assist (Cheverie served as the backup).  Here’s the recap.

-Elmira has released Brandon Blandina while placing Jordon Southorn on reserve.

Stefan Noesen‘s coach Mike Vellucci talked about the Sens prospect:

He thinks the game as well as anyone I’ve ever had. It’s not as if he’s shooting any more. His linemates (Rickard Rakell and Tom Wilson) have just been unlucky. Goalies have been making great saves. And our power play has been pretty bleak, too, so that hasn’t helped. We’re getting a lot of chances but just not converting. I think it’s just one of those things. And it’s early, too. So I suspect by the end of the year he’ll once again have more assists than goals. Sometimes he gets too into it, winning at all costs, but it’s definitely a great asset to have. He wants to count and he wants to be counted on. He wants to make the big hit, score the big goal, make the big play. When he first came here (conditioning and strength) was a big area of concern, but in the summer between 16 and 17, he worked a lot harder. He understood what it took to play in the OHL. But like any kid, he still has to take it to the next level. It’s one thing to be in shape for junior, it’s another to be in shape for the pros, and that’s what I’m trying to teach all my players. To me, if you’re going to play in the NHL, you have to get in the door first, and Stef can break in as a third- or fourth-line guy because he can do other things than be a goal scorer. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good defensively, and he understands the game. He sees the game real well. He can give a coach some really good minutes on the third or fourth lines, and eventually I think he can graduate to be a second-line guy. But that’s going to take maturity, conditioning, and strength — all those things.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 14th

Ben Blood was re-assigned to Elmira.  Blood hadn’t suited up for Binghamton since October 28th.

-Elmira plays Reading tonight; the Royals are 7-5-1, with Yannick Tifu and Denny Urban lead the way with 10 points each; Philipp Grubauer has shouldered the goaltending load winning five of the team’s games.

Mark Recchi thinks the players should agree to a deal now because:

But look what happened, the players always get their money. They’re always going to get paid, no matter what. Look at that last deal. We ended up with the cap and everyone thought it was a bad deal. But it ended up great, right? No matter what the system is, or has been, the players get their money. No matter what the contract, the owners always find a way to pay them more. That’s why I say, get a deal and get back in there…the money’s always there.

I don’t see the sense in this when it comes to negotiating–things worked out last time so things will work out this time?  There’s also a disconnect between Recchi comparing a deal done now versus the last one requiring the loss of a season.  If the players won a longer lockout, how does that create a need for a shorter one?  There’s not much logic here.

Ryan Kennedy posted his 2013 draft rankings:
1. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax
2. Seth Jones, D, Portland
3. Sasha Barkov, C, Tappara
4. Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas
5. Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa
6. Curtis Lazar, C, Edmonton
7. Jonathan Drouin, C, Halifax
8. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS
9. Hunter Shinkaruk, C, Medicine Hat
10. Robert Hagg, D, MODO
11. Adam Erne, RW, Quebec
12. Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie
13. Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert
14. Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon
15. Nikita Zadorov, D, London
16. Artturi Lehkonen, RW, KalPa
17. Anthony Mantha, LW, Val d’Or
18. Jacob De La Rose, C, Leksand
19. Hudson Fasching, RW, U.S. NTDP
20. JT Compher, C, U.S. NTDP
21. Valery Nichushkin, C, Chelyabinsk
22. Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski
23. Zach Fucale, G, Halifax
24. Steve Santini, D, U.S. NTDP
25. Jason Dickinson, C, Guelph
26. Morgan Klimchuk, C, Regina
27. Andre Burakowsky, LW, Malmo
28. Max Domi, C, London
29. Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor
30. Eric Comrie, G, Tri-City

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 13th

-It was a paralyzing slow news day yesterday (the Hall of Fame doesn’t interest me) until word came out that Jared Cowen was likely out for the season due to a hip injury.  It’s terrible luck for Cowen and a blow to Ottawa–they will need more out of Mike Lundin than they probably expected.  I don’t think the impact on Binghamton is as significant as he wasn’t originally part of the AHL plan.  There is no Cowen replacement for Ottawa nor will a random FA acquisition make much difference.  This isn’t to say that in a shortened season Cowen is the make-or-break factor for a Sens playoff push, just that they can’t actually fill his spot with equivilent talent and that sends ripples throughout the blueline.

-I wasn’t originally going to comment on Dave Young‘s mention of Mika Zibanejad‘s slow start, but rather than look at what Dave said I’ll just make a couple of comparisons for those wringing their hands over the young Swede’s early returns.  Here are the stats of a couple of other highly touted Swedish prospects in the AHL:
Mattias Tedenby (2008 1st rounder) – 8-2-1-3 with Albany and this is his third full professional season in North America (he has 101 NHL games to his credit)
Anton Lander (2009 2nd rounder) – 8-0-0-0 with Oklahoma after playing most of last year in Edmonton
My point isn’t that these players are also bad, just that early returns from young players have to be taken with a grain of salt.  It’s much better to focus on comments made by the coaching stuff and thus far they have been very positive.

-The Jakub Culek trade in the QMJHL has been confirmed.

-Elmira released defenseman Jarrett Rush.

Stefan reports on a rumour that Mikael Wikstrand will join Frolunda in the SEL next season (there seems little reason to doubt its validity).

-The Sens are wisely reaching out to fans to try to blunt their reaction to the lockout.  I’d be interested to know if other organisations are doing the same thing, as it would provide some context for the organisation’s approach.

-Here’s the weekly prospect update (for players with more than 10 games played I’ve indicated where they are in scoring; for blueliners they are compared to other defensemen on the team):

Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 20-16-5-21 (1st)
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa) 19-5-14-19 (1st)
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 19-12-6-18 (1st)
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 15-1-4-5 (3rd)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL Cape Breton) DNP
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) (injured)
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 10-3-2 2.37 .920
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 12-4-0 2.53 .907

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Wikstrand (Mora) 19-8-5-13 (1st)

Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 23-5-8-13 (2nd)

Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – 10-1-5-6 (3rd)
Max McCormick (Ohio) – 8-2-3-5
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – 6-2-2-4
Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – 8-2-2-4
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – 4-1-2-3
Tim Boyle (Union) – 4-0-1-1

Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana) – 14-2-8-10 (t-3rd)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 11th; Binghamton 4, Norfolk 2

-Binghamton defeated Norfolk 4-2 last night in a game I was unable to watch.  Robin Lehner earned the win while Corey Cowick, Andre Petersson, Andre Benoit, and Derek Grant scored.  Mark Stone returned to the lineup (sending Cole Schneider to the pressbox).  Both Cowick and Jakob Silfverberg had two points each with Silfverberg leading the team with four shots on goal.

-Elmira lost the final game of its southern road swing 5-3 to Orlando; Kramer, Downing, and Gazley scored while Caporusso, New, and Peltz were held off the score sheet.  Here’s the recap.

Stu Hackel provides additional insight on the CBA negotiations that are worth highlighting (in bold below):

The players contend that if their share of revenue is going to decline in order to help struggling franchises, the owners should have to participate more in that effort than they have in the past and they’ve proposed to do going forward. The NHL has redistributed about $150 million to poorer clubs and plans to raise that to around $190-$200 million. The players’ proposed hiking that figure to $250 million, in part so the problem franchises don’t have ongoing issues that cause the league to threaten yet another lockout when the CBA that is now being negotiated expires. Early on in this process, the NHLPA suggested the creation of an “Industry Growth Fund” to stabilize the game’s economics, with $100 million annually dedicated to the assistance of the clubs in need and a team-by-team plan administered largely by the commissioner’s office. It’s unknown if that idea is still part of the discussion, but wealthy owners have largely opposed enhanced revenue sharing. They contend that the business isn’t large enough for them to give away bigger chunks of their income to assist their weaker brethren. The PA has examined the NHL’s finances and doesn’t agree.

This kind of thing has always amused me.  The owners want the players to help save their business, but they are reluctant to take measures themselves to do so.  For a very technical breakdown of the issues check out Bob McKenzie.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 10th

Luke Richardson offered some thoughts on Mike Hoffman:

He does have the talent to be a great two-way player. He has the offensive talent and defensively he’s working at it just like everybody else. Now it’s a matter of working to find the offense at the right time but not giving up anything defensively.

Being a good two-way player is Hoffman‘s key to becoming an NHL player, as he isn’t consistent enough offensively to make it on that alone.

-Binghamton faces Norfolk tonight; the Admirals are 6-3-0 which is good for 5th in the conference; Peter Holland and Nick Palmieri lead the team in scoring with 11 points each; Igor Bobkov and Frederik Andersen were sharing duties in net, but Bobkov hasn’t played since losing to Binghamton.

-Elmira lost 5-3 to Florida last night with Cheverie taking the loss; Kramer and Downing scored while Caporusso had a goal and an assist; Gazley, Peltz, and New were held off the score sheet.  Here’s the recap.

-Elmira plays Orlando tonight; the Solar Bears are 5-4-3 this season (good for 6th in the conference), lead by Nick Petersen (who has 18 points) and backstopped by John Curry (who has all of his team’s wins).

-The Jakub Culek saga seems to be finally over as it has been reported that he was traded to Cape Breton (no official word yet).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: November 9th

Shane Prince talked about his time in Binghamton thus far:

My role is to help out offensively, and obviously you have to play a defensive game as well, but it was good to get on the board. I’m trying to play more gritty, the AHL is a different league and you have to play harder and get in the corners … That’s my role with those two guys [Zibanejad and Petersson], who are more skill guys. I’m not afraid to play that (gritty) game at all, and sometimes it’s going to be your turn to answer the bell and get in there to stick up for your teammates. It’s important to have a team that’s not going to get pushed around, and when you come into other teams’ rinks they know it’s going to be a tough game. It’s been great living with Cowick. I love the house. It’s an old house right in Binghamton and we have a nice setup, with me upstairs and Cowick downstairs. We get along really well.

-Elmira plays Florida tonight, in a re-match after their 6-3 loss to the Everblades on Wednesday.  Roster moves for Elmira: Binghamton has sent Louie Caporusso back to the Jackals, while Danny New and Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel have been activated from reserve; Jimmy Martin, Jarrett Rush, and Brandon Blandina have all been placed on reserve.

Stu Hackel writes about the CBA negotiations and quotes Damian Cox with the most pertinent point:

(What) you have to avoid is believing that we are at a critical stage, or at the brink, or that D-Day is upon us, or any of the terms bandied about to suggest the talks are at a pivotal moment. They’re not. The 1994-95 lockout was ended on Jan. 11. The 2004-05 season was cancelled (finally) on Feb. 16, and there were even talks after that. We’re not even in mid-November yet. Given history, how can anyone possibly say we’re at a make-or-break point? That’s just phony drama, mostly generated by the media, with little basis in fact. Right now, both sides are bleeding, and both are assessing on a day-to-day basis how much more they want to bleed, and measuring their losses against the possible gains, and calculating how far they can push the other side for maximum advantage. That’s all this really is at this point. Math, with some poker thrown in.

Varada broke his long blogging silence to say that while he’ll come back to the NHL when the lockout is over he’s refusing to spend money on it because of his anger.  I understand his frustration, but I don’t have the same reaction.  The league (and the players) don’t owe us anything–they talk about a special relationship with the fanbase, but that’s simply marketing to sell a few more tickets and jerseys.  What matters most to the NHL and NHLPA is the bottom line and the feelings and opinions of fans are irrelevant unless large numbers of us stop consuming their product.  For me, understanding the reality of the situation sucks out all emotion other than irritation over the situation remaining unresolved.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)