In the wake of a third consecutive lockout, Brian Burke and Company wasted no time in improving their American Hockey League squad. Late Saturday night, it was announced that 22 players were assigned to the Toronto Marlies.
Those 22 are as follows: Spencer Abbott, Carter Ashton, Jesse Blacker, Tyler Brenner, Sam Carrick, Joe Colborne, Andrew Crescenzi, Jerry D’Amigo, Nicolas Deschamps, Jamie Devane, Jake Gardiner, Simon Gysbers, Ryan Hamilton, Korbinian Holzer, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Greg McKegg, Mark Owuya, Brad Ross, Kenny Ryan, Jussi Rynnas and Greg Scott.
Though most of these players were already Marlies, they have been assured the presence of Kadri, Colbourne, Ashton, and the future star in Jake Gardiner to start the season.
A handful were also assigned to their junior clubs: Tyler Biggs (Oshawa-OHL), David Broll (Sault Ste. Marie-OHL), Stuart Percy (Mississauga-OHL) and Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw-WHL), as per mapleleafs.com
As for the NHL lockout, as of midnight, it is indeed upon us. 1994-95 was the first lockout under Commissioner, Gary Bettman, 2004-05 was the second, and this is the third. Needless to say, fans are not impressed.
Perhaps just as unimpressive was his motion to show support from the league owners, by a raise of hands. Despite the growing number of struggling franchises who already have trouble selling tickets and overall interest in their respective cities, the owners voted 30-0 in favour of a lockout. In any circumstance, the likelihood of having a 30-0 vote by a show of hands is far more likely than it would be through a legitimate voting method. So could there be internal division among the owners? Bob McKenzie of TSN reported on Friday that the players feel the owners are not in unified in their decisions and feel they are likely to give in. Could the possible owners’ division cause them to be the ones to cave this time around?
In the case the owners are not actually 30-0 in favour of the lockout, there may be volcanic reaction among the owners in the coming months. Especially with struggling markets, the coming months will only get more difficult and the owners will simply beg for hockey. Hockey interest in each city could see a drastic loss as a result of the lockout.
To briefly summarize the progress, or lack thereof, during the summer, the owners want the players to take a significant pay cut in terms of Hockey Related Revenue. In the Collective Bargaining Agreement that expired last night, the players collected 57% of HRR to the owners’ 43%. In the league’s first proposal, they requested the tables turn with the owners collecting the 57% and the players collect 43%. The next offer suggested the players earn 46% by the end of the CBA, and the latest offer had the players earning from 47-49% by the sixth and final year of the deal. That deal, Bettman stated, is now off the table as the league would face new economic challenges as a result of the lockout.
Though there are many other issues concerning the lack of progress in the CBA negotiations, HRR seemed to take center stage and acted as the catalyst that broke down any attempted progress in any other aspect.
Although the owners hold the ultimate veto, without players there is no league, and thus no owners. If progress remains at a standstill and animosity escalates, could we see players threaten to sign contracts abroad beyond a year? Keep in mind, this would likely only materialized in extreme circumstances.
The players have stated they want a deal that would prevent a similar outcome at its conclusion. Leafs defenseman, John-Michael Liles, even said he wanted to avoid signing to the owners’ demands this year only to take another pay cut in the CBA that follows the next one. In that sense, the players’ stubborn demeanor can be understood. Couple that approach with the fact they took a 24% rollback in existing contracts in the last CBA along with taking on the salary cap system. From a player’s vantage point, one can begin to see the snowball that they see coming at them.
As for Leafs fans, the world has not come crashing down on us.. in regards to the lockout, not past success of course. We have one of the best AHL teams and they will only benefit from an NHL lockout. Make the best of a bad situation and support the boys down the street during the work stoppage. This may be the last thing anyone wanted, but it doesn’t mean hockey is locked out altogether.