Posted on: September 20, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 3:50 pm

Goal verification line, change to net OK'd by NHL

By Brian Stubits

There has been a late addition to the changes for the upcomming season as the NHL Board of Governors was given conditional approval to implement the verification line in the goal as well as a plastic skirt and a thinner mesh for the net. This is according to TSN in Canada.

The line is expected to be in place by the start of the regular season in all venues whereas the changes to the net will take a few months to prepare, assuming the NHLPA gives its consent, which is likely.

The verification line is a second line that sits inside the goal zone designed to help review officials determine if the puck fully crossed into the goal. The concept is that if the puck touches the green second line, then you know the goal is good.

The idea was tested at the Research and Development Camp earlier this summer and that carried over into the preseason game between the Maple Leafs and Senators last night.

It is unlikely to save us from any more reviews on goals, it's just supposed to help the officials more easily determine goal or no goal. My initial reaction left me wondering what the difference is in the puck touching a second line or not touching the first line. But then when you realize the red line has a tendency to bleed while the green line will be actually in the ice, it makes more sense. The line will remain straight. The additions of the thinner mesh and plastic apron that will make the big difference in the visiblity.

Here is a little more explanation on the goal verification line from the R&D camp. The shallower nets will not be instituted yet, perhaps not for another year or two until it gets full approval from the NHL and NHLPA.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 15, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 5:03 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

By Brian Stubits

We don't do this often, but this one is worthy ... On this day in NHL history, the current CBA was signed in 2005, bringing an end to the lockout after an entire missed season.

Hockey has had life a bit care-free in the past year in regards to labor, watching the NFL and NBA go through their own lockouts. The NFL has since worked out a deal without any meaningful games being missed. The NBA, meanwhile, is in danger of missing the start of the season, if not a lot more.

But the care-free days are about to wind down. The clock begins ticking now on reaching a new deal to avoid another crippling lockout. It has taken six years, but the league finally seems to have recouped from the wiped-out season, seeing popularity levels returning to and in some cases exceeding the pre-lockout highs. To put it simply, things are going alright for the NHL these days.

You don't need me to tell you how jeopardizing another labor deadlock would be to the sport's growth. There are already multiple cities facing the possibility of losing their teams partly because of a lack of fan support. I'm sure a work stoppage will really help solve that problem ...

The biggest problem that seems to be on the horizon is the ever-escalating salary cap and floor. As each continues to rise quickly, it is doing the smaller markets and those with less money no favors. They are already losing money and their operating costs are forced to go up at an accelerated rate.

On the other side of the equation, the quickly rising ceiling is allowing the teams with greater resources to stay ahead of the pack. I touched on the landscape of the East starting to take shape into a very static conference because of well-off franchises getting more room under the cap to help maintain their lofty positions. This exact problem has caused a lot of the friction the NBA is currently dealing with.

The summer spending spree we just went through will undoubtedly give ammunition to owners claiming salaries are skyrocketing. Expect to hear a lot of "Ed Jovanovski was given $4.125 million per year for Pete's sake!" arguments being made.

Kelly McParland at the National Post wrote about how this year's free-agent blitz was planting some seeds of labor doom, insisting that the owners will only have themselves to blame. But the counterargument to that angle is that many of the owners' hands were forced by the salary floor rising, inducing them to overspend.

Out of the four major sports leagues in North America, it is pretty much undebateable which can least afford a stoppage; it's the NHL. It already has the lowest fan support of the four sports as it is. It can't afford to lose the momentum it has going (and the potential of it growing a lot more if the NBA season is taken away, leaving just hockey). You think hockey suffers from a lack of coverage now? Another lockout would set it back further.

There is no doubt the best thing that can be done to avoid another stoppage is get to work on a new collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible. You might remember there is a new lead man for the NHLPA, none other than Donald Fehr. In case you need a reminder, Fehr was the man in charge of baseball's players union when that sport suffered a strike of its own. I still own a ball from the World Series That Never Was from 1994, an awful reminder of the fall without baseball.

I think Fehr will forever have a taint in a lot of sports fans' eyes as the man that cost the MLB a season. I was still in school during the strike, but my memories of the way Fehr was portrayed was as the bad guy in the whole scenario.

Nonetheless, he is going to be the point man for the players in negotiations and from their point of view, there are few better to have on your side. Fehr plans on doing a lot of travelling the remainder of this calendar year, visiting every team and learning about the sport and all of his clients. After that, hopefully negotiations begin in earnest and the uneasiness that is seeping in can be put to sleep before it truly breaks out.

The biggest hope that the sides will swallow their pride and make concessions to sign a new labor deal is that the lockout is something many of these players and owners have gone through. Nobody would want to have to go through it again. It's those memories that can ultimately be the biggest incentive to find common ground. I mean they decided to bring the shootout to the NHL after the lockout to help interest fans (needless to say, most fans I see don't like it one bit), can you imagine what they would have to bring to the game whenever they would start playing again?

Every time labor battles are being fiercely fought you always hear the mantra of "think of the fans!" In this case, I don't think it will be too tough for the parties involved to do just that. The only question is if that will deter them from holding their ground.

And on a personal note, I hope they think of the writers, too. I don't want to spend my summer like the guys at the Eye on Basketball blog keeping daily tabs on labor talk. Nobody wins in that scenario.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Category: NHL
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:29 pm

NHL, NHLPA adopt new social media policy

By Brian Stubits

The NHL has sunk its teeth into the Twitter regulation business. As a result, no more will you hear from your favorite athletes on Twitter on game days. That's the result of the league's new policy, which was agreed to by the NHLPA.

The whole concept behind the policy is to make sure sensitive material isn't being revealed. I'm sure it had a little to do with organizations seeking some help, possibly feeling that their players could a) tweet said sensitive material, or b) be distracted by the social medium.

“The policy is sensible,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “It lets our players and clubs participate substantially in the opportunity of social networking while identifying and mitigating some of the risks. To date, our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks, and fans should not expect to see any material difference as a result of this policy."

Specifically, the policy calls for a blackout period of two hours before the game until the player's media obligations are completed. This has been a window of time that has pretty much been quiet anyway. Players haven't exactly been active in the locker room or on the bench.

For hockey operations staff members, the ban kicks in at 11 a.m. on game days. So Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, for example, won't have much to say on game days, even if it's something as innocuous as "GAME DAY! See you there Jackets fans!" for an example.

My visceral reaction is to reject regulation, it feel so draconian. It is a chilling effect, even if it is a restriction that was already being adhered to by 99.9 percent of the involved parties, if not 100 percent.

"To date our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks," Daly said.

So withdrawing the knee-jerk reaction to regulation, this simply establishes a guideline. Now teams would have actual recourse if a player were tweeting, say, during intermission. Although I think that would be pretty cool. Anything that would separate the NHL from the other leagues and make it stand out, I'm all for. But I understand this would never, ever fly and it's unlikely players would tweet mid-game even if they could.

The biggest tweeter of them all, Paul Bissonnette of the Coyotes (@BizNasty2point0), doesn't seem to have an issue with it.

“People asking about NHL's new policy on Twitter. I think its good. I don't even play much and I don't tweet on game days. Plenty of off days,”

And for those who are still resisting Twitter (I was once one of you, but it is truly perfect for sports fans) then this will have no impact whatsoever on your hockey fandom.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 9:58 am

Daily Skate: NHL, KHL sign agreement

By: Adam Gretz

NHL, KHL SIGN PLAYER MOVEMENT AGREEMENT: On Thursday, the two biggest hockey leagues in the world signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the intention of regulating player movement between the two leagues. According to an NHL release, the agreement is intended to respect the contracts of both leagues and has a list of procedures that should avoid conflict regarding the movement of players between the two leagues. The deal will be effective until June 30, 2012.

COMMODORE 64: If you're a child of the '80s, you might understand the reference, but Mike Commodore, who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings, is considering the possibility of maybe wearing No. 64 this upcoming season. Commodore 64. Get it?! Admit it, you would buy that jersey. Puck Daddy has all of the details.

CONNER LANDS IN DETROIT: In other, less comical Red Wings news, the club added some depth to its system Thursday by signing former Dallas Star and Pittsburgh Penguin forward Chris Conner to a one-year, two-way contract. Ansar Khan has the story over at Mlive.com. The speedy Conner scored seven goals in 69 games with the Penguins last season, and for his career has 16 goals in 139 games between Dallas and Pittsburgh.

VARLAMOV ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY FOR COLORADO: The Colorado Avalanche gave up a first-round draft pick in 2012 (a pick that could be very high in the draft) to acquire goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals last week. The 23-year-old netminder had his first meeting with the Denver media Thursday. During said meeting, he made it known that it was always his childhood dream to play for the Avalanche, in large part because his favorite player, Patrick Roy, once played for the team. You can watch the video of his entire press conference at the Avalanche website.

POTENTIAL COLLEGE HOCKEY SUPER LEAGUE: The Duluth News Tribune reported Thursday that plans to unveil a college hockey super-league will be announced in Colorado Springs next Wednesday. The league would include Western Collegiate Hockey League teams Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College, as well as Miami (Ohio) of the Central Collegiate Hockey League. Bruce Ciskie helps to break down what it all means.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 21, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:43 pm

NHL tweaks head hit, boarding rules

The NHL and the its players union agreed to broaden rules that govern hits to the head and boarding.

The changes --- which had already approval by the league’s general managers and the player-run competition committee --- cover both boarding (Rule 41) and illegal checks to the head (Rule 48) got the OK from the board of governors, who met at New York on Tuesday. Both rules were be in place for the start of the 2011-12 season.

Under the revised boarding rule, players must avoid or minimize contact if his opponent is in a defenseless position. (It will be up to the referee to determine if the player who was checked put in a vulnerable position immediately before contact.) A penalty will called if the collision with the defenseless to hit the boards “violently or dangerously.”

As expected, the words “lateral or blind side” were taken out of Rule 48, which was put in place late in the 2009-10 season after a rash of concussions. Now, a penalty (and possibly supplemental discipline) will be assess whenever an opponent’s head is “targeted and the principal point of contact.”

Here is the complete wording for the new rules:

Rule 41 – Boarding

41.1 Boarding - A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the
discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the referees when applying this rule.

Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious "icing" or "off-side" play which results in that player hitting or impacting the boards is "boarding" and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as "charging."

Rule 48 - Illegal Check to the Head

48.1 Illegal Check To The Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.

48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.

48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

48.4 Game Misconduct – There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.

48.5 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the
Commissioner at his discretion.
-- A.J. Perez

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter

Category: NHL
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:03 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:22 pm

Rangers forward Derek Boogaard found dead

The New York Rangers confirmed the death of enforcer Derek Boogaard late Friday night, hours after his body was reportedly found in his Minneapolis apartment by family members. He was 28. 

“Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual,” said New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement.  “He was a very thoughtful person, who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates during this difficult time.”  

Details of what caused his death were not immediately known. An official at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office told CBSSports.com that the results of the autopsy, scheduled to be conducted on Saturday, will not be ready for a couple weeks pending toxicology results.

“Derek was a well-liked and respected member of the NHLPA, and his passing is a great loss to the entire hockey community," National Hockey League Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr said in a statement. "Our sincere condolences to Derek’s many friends and family during this difficult time.”

News of Boogaard's passing was first reported by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Russo reported Boogaard is survived by his mother, Joanne, and father, Len, his younger brothers Aaron and Ryan and younger sister, Krysten.

A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Boogaard was originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild and played 225 games for the club from 2005-06 through 2009-10. The Rangers signed him as a free agent last offseason for a four-year, $6.5 million deal to help toughen up the Rangers and protect his former teammate in Minnesota, Marian Gaborik. His season was cut short due to a concussion suffered in December.

The 6-foot-7 Boogaard was seen as one of the fiercest fighters in the NHL, garnering a fearsome reputation largely from his knockout punch of Todd Fedoruk in 2006, a fight that left Fedoruk with a broken cheek bone.

"The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard," the Wild said in a statement. "Derek was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss."

"At a loss for words. I'll miss my roomy Derek Boogaard. You will be missed by everyone. Great friend and teammate," Rangers forward Brandon Prust tweeted early Saturday morning.

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Category: NHL
Posted on: May 11, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 2:53 am

Islanders could have a winner in arena proposal

It may not be as imminent as the situations in Phoenix or Atlanta, but the New York Islanders’ tenure at the aged Nassau County Coliseum is untenable.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said as much in a release today that was circulated before a news conference that announced plans to put a new arena next to the current 39-year-old relic with $350 million in funds from county-backed bonds. Voters will go to the polls Aug 1 and a simple majority is all that would be needed to finally give the Islanders a new pad.

“Without a new arena, we will lose the Islanders, shutter the aging Coliseum and besides losing present jobs, will lose the currently substantial economic benefits including all the existing arena and secondary jobs,” Mangano said.  “The construction of a new home for the Islanders and the redevelopment of the Coliseum site will generate thousands of construction and secondary construction jobs plus thousands of permanent jobs.”

The overall bond would be for $400 million with $50 million going to a new minor league ballpark. Former Islanders executive and founder of the Islanders Point Blank blog Chris Botta wrote in a special column for ESPN New York that this referendum should gain approval, unless both the Islanders and area politicians “really whiff on this empty-netter.”

Since we’re talking about the Islanders AND politicians, maybe Isles fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Botta, however, said the date this referendum will be voted on shouldn’t go unnoticed:  
The key here is Aug. 1. Think about it. The vote is not going to be on Election Day, when tens of thousands of Nassau residents would be in position for a knee-jerk rejection of a $400 million expense by a bankrupt county. (The fact is, county taxes are not expected to go up if Wang gets the dough for his building on the Coliseum property. The bond will be covered by eventual revenue from the new facility).

The Aug. 1 date, mandated by Mangano, naturally irks the opposition. Aug. 1 is a Monday in the summer. Think about the people who will be inspired to vote Yes or No, to make the effort to drive to the polling stations to take a stand on one issue on a Monday during a Long Island summer.

But it may not be that easy. Brian Gallof of HockeyIndependent.com reports the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority -- the state-appointed agency that oversees the county's finances --  isn't all too happy with the proposal. 

NIFA is deeply concerned about the County Executive’s proposal and its fiscal implications for the County. There was no consultation with NIFA regarding this major proposal announced today. During the control period, greater coordination is warranted.NIFA’s approval is required for all County borrowing, including the $400 million in new debt proposed today, and for all major contracts.

Minus this failed attempt, the Islanders are likely headed out of town once the lease at the coliseum expires in 2015.

The Lighthouse Project, the brainchild of Islanders owner Charles Wang and county leaders, was all but doomed from the start. The proposed multi-billion dollar project included not only a new arena and a minor league park, but also residential neighborhoods and a five-star hotel. 

Independent Islanders blog Lighthouse Hockey theorizes why the new proposal could actually succeed. 
Well, I mean, it might not. But in short, it has a better shot because the major political players involved are on board, and it's not a $3 billion-plus proposal that scares the daylights out of NIMBY suburbanites. Presumably these now united political forces can marshal their supporters and "friends of influence" to get it through.
Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray -- a major player in blocking the LHP -- is on board with this plan and was a featured speaker at today's presser. (Yes, she was booed.)

  Of course, just because Wang, Mangano and Murray are all singing the same tune, there are still the hurdles mentioned above -- county legislature, voter referendum and, presumably, NIFA.

-- A.J .Perez
Category: NHL
Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 5:45 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

The NHL has reached a broadcast deal that will keep it on NBC and Versus. 

The Comcast-owned duo beat out Fox, Turner and ESPN --- all of which dropped out of the bidding. The Sports Business Journal reports  the NBC Sports Group will pay in excess of $200 million per season under the 10-year deal. That's nearly triple the guaranteed money under the current deal, originally signed out of the lockout. 

"I think everybody has enormous respect for ESPN, but six years ago we chose to go in a different direction for a variety of reasons and we believe it's worked out well for us," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a conference call on Tuesday. "And the promise of what NBC Universal/Comcast I think is extraordinarily exciting."

Over the last six years, NBC and the NHL had a revenue sharing arrangement. It was a great deal for NBC and one the NHL had to take after the 2004-05 season was lost due to a work stoppage. Now, not only has the NHL signed its most lucrative TV deal in its history -- easily surpassing the pre-lockout ABC/ESPN agreement -- but the partnership could soon grow beyond just Versus and NBC, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports Group, explained.  

"The new company at NBC Universal represents 20 channels, 20 unique channels, covering a diversity that no other company has ever had, from significantly strong female channels to young channels, young adult channels, to the most powerful cable entertainment network in the world in the USA Network, CNBC, Telemundo," Ebersol said. "We have a way to talk to the audience that no one has ever had before. And these guys, their mouths are watering to get their hands on being identified."

The deal negates any non-NBC Universal/Comcast property from carrying games in the U.S. The new deal also means the end of regional sports networks carrying playoff games past the first round of the playoffs beginning next year. 

"We have the market power we need both for Madison Avenue for advertising, and we clearly have it among the cable community with this level of exclusivity and the fact it's one-stop shopping," Ebersol said. 

The new deal calls for 100 regular season games and NBC will begin televising games on Thanksgiving Friday. 

-- A.J. Perez
Category: NHL
Tags: ESPN, NHL, Versus
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com