Quick hits: NHL leaders holding up a deal and some buyer beware
Posted December 13, 2012
The NHL and NHLPA aren’t any closer to a deal at this stage of the negotiations than they were at the start of the lockout. It appears the two faces of the work stoppage, Commissioner Gary Bettman of the League and Donald Fehr of the Players Association, are holding up a deal. The battle of egos needs to take a back seat for the good of the game. Last week the players and owners were able to sit down and make significant progress in taking the game out of meeting rooms and putting it back on the ice. That progress was set back by Bettman and Fehr, as those two managed to pull the rug out from under those meetings and the hope of a season getting underway.
If the owners and players were as close as reported and really want to have a season, those parties need get back in a room with a federal mediator without Bettman and Fehr and agree to a deal. If those two don’t like what the parties agree to, it is time for them to move on and shut down another sport.
If the NHL is able to put together some sort of season, the question is what teams will have the advantage? Simple answer is the ones that have a core group that has played together and won. Teams like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Detroit would jump out as the favorites in a condensed season.
The reality is that it comes down to two things, health and which team gets good goal tending, just like the playoffs. The season will be no more than 60 games (that is wishful thinking), filled with four games in six night stretches, so keeping top players on the ice is a priority. No team will have an advantage because those factors don’t care about experience.
Okay, so you are thinking but what about teams with elite goalies? Goaltenders get the least amount of work during this lockout, most European teams shied away from employing NHL goalies in case the lockout ended quick, leaving most to work out on their own. Net minders can practice all they want, but there is no simulation for NHL practices or games. With so many back to back games that will be scheduled, the back-ups will be as precious as the starters. There will be no way cross-conference play is possible, so every point matters for playoff positioning.
Hopefully hockey fans will get a chance to find out.
Take the money and run
I try to avoid telling people what to do with their lives, but in the case of college football running backs, I make an exception. UNC tailback and third team All-American Gio Bernard is eligible to enter the NFL Draft this April, and even though he is only a red-shirt sophomore he should go. The shelf life of running backs in the NFL is about as long as a half gallon of milk. No position in college takes more abuse, not even quarterback, which is why if a running back is thought to be a first day of the draft talent, he should go. This isn’t just for Gio Bernard, but for the handful of underclassmen at that spot each year that can leave. After seeing South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore suffer a terrible knee injury that might have cost him his first round status, there is no reason to fault a college running back for leaving for the draft.
It is not a surprise that disgraced Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino has ended up on a college sideline coaching again. Western Kentucky is taking the calculated risk of bringing in Petrino to head their program.
His record on the field turning programs into winners is well documented, but the fact that he is shady off the field speaks volumes as well. Petrino according to good sources interviewed multiple times for the Auburn job while at Louisville when his friend Tommy Tuberville was the head coach there. He left Louisville after signing an extension and saying that is where he wanted to be for the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons. He bolted from the Falcons by leaving a one paragraph message on the lockers of his players, saying that he was leaving for Arkansas, while there were still games left in the season. And of course his biggest transgression, at Arkansas giving his mistress a job in the Arkansas football office and getting caught.
While this is not a major job in the NCAA football ranks, it gets him back in the game and a chance to get back to one of the higher profile jobs.
But a word of caution to Western Kentucky’s athletic department, in case they didn’t already know, don’t count on this relationship to last. Bobby Petrino has shown that he is more than willing to move on to the next sexiest thing, be it on or off the field.