Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's "Just Words" Anyway...

You may have noticed that we've been leaving our old friend Larry Brooks alone recently. It isn't because Ol' Lar hasn't been up to his usual tricks of double talk and attempting to stir the pot with his weekly columns. We've been leaving him alone because it's nothing we haven't seen before and we have other things to do with out time. But rest assured folks, we still read Larry Brooks every Sunday so you don't have to.

We will admit though, this past Sunday's installment is tough to ignore by itself and after what happened on Tuesday, we simply cannot ignore the Union Thug Mouthpiece's latest steaming pile of garbage.

To put it simply, after winning the Cup last year and fending off Kevin Lowe, the Anaheim Thug Ducks found themselves in "salary cap jail." It isn't a pretty place to be and was threatening to reek havoc on the Thug Ducks and cause a Florida Marlins like firesale. Rumors of Scott Niedermayer being injured and considering retirement because of it put the Thug Ducks in even more of a bind. Niedermayer carries a $6.75 million cap number, by far the largest on the team, and had another two years left on his contract heading into this season. The Thug Ducks ended up losing Dustin Penner because they didn't have room under the salary cap after picking up Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider and wondering just what Neidermayer and Teemu Selanne were going to do. It was Niedermayer and Selanne's "soul searching" that allowed the Thug Ducks to get around this sticky situtation. Selanne was an unrestricted free agent so he could take his time because he wasn't under any contract. Niedermayer however, was under contract and as the precedent set under the Alexi Yashin dispute with Ottawa set, he owed the Thug Ducks another two years of service.

So is Larry really in a snit over a distinguished player like Niedermayer being forced to attend a training camp that he is contractually required to? Or is the Union Thug Mouthpiece still upset over the implementation of a salary of a cap? We know he's still angry over the salary cap because we all know that star players like Niedermayer can longer get huge paydays under a salary cap system. But this isn't about Niedermayer wanting more $$$$$, this is about Brian Burke needing more cap space. The CBA was well drawn up to prevent cheating and circumvention of it.

But what makes this a true Larry Brooks classic is what Bob McKenzie reported on Tuesday. McKenzie disputes a major point in Larry's temper tantrum but drops bombshells that Larry couldn't have possibly missed when doing the reporting for this story:

[T]he league, in concert with the NHL Players' Association, is apparently negotiating to ensure that some or all of Niedermayer's fine doesn't actually have to be paid...But sources say that while the league and PA are discussing how to temper or eliminate the penalty to Niedermayer, the rule will remain in place and be enforced to the letter of the law from now on.

In other words, the NHL is trying to get around a CBA it shutdown the league for an entire year for in favor of one club, but not for others.

Is anybody really surprised by this?

Furthermore, how could Larry Brooks have not already known this himself? He alludes to Anaheim helping Niedermayer get away with this stunt but nothing about the league office itself. It is something that makes what he wrote Sunday impossible because while the league is "forcing" Anaheim to fine Niedermayer, they're working with Anaheim to have the fine undone. If you want an example of unprofessional journalism in professional publication, this is it. Bob McKenzie made Larry Brooks look like a rank amatuer blogger like Rumor Boy.

And in true NHL fashion, the stars get different treatment than everybody else because the NHL will look to ignore the precedent establishing situation and hold everybody else to the standards laid out in the CBA. We have never seen this by the NHL before have we?
THEY are so consumed with the fine print over on Sixth Avenue that the NHL misses the larger picture.

Oh if that that were only so true...

And you wonder why we're souring on this league...

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