Overtime – NHL Preseason

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Overtime – NHL Preseason ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

Bet the NHL at Bodog

By UltimateCapper.com Contributing Writer, Mike Ivcic and Alex Rajaniemi

Welcome to “Overtime,” the new weekly NHL-blog for the UltimateCapper. Each week, Alex Rajaniemi and I will take a look at the hottest topics from across the sport in conversation form, while still providing the insights and picks on all things NHL that you’ve come to expect from this sight. We were hoping to be starting this off with an overview of some offseason transactions and a look ahead to some of the preseason storylines, but instead we’re now fully enveloped in the league’s second lockout in eight years. Alex, what a way to kick off your start here at the UltimateCapper.

Alex: Thanks, Mike, it seems we’ve gotten thrown right into the hurricane here with the lockout. With such intriguing offseason story lines as well as a historic and downright entertaining post-season, I thought the NHL was poised to be the first of the Big Four sports to effectively stave off a lockout. I mean, with Parise and Suter moving from East to West and signing with the Wild, a significant power shift was in the making. The Northwest Division, sans lockout, would’ve been primed for its first Cup winning team since the Avalanche gave Raymond Bourque his long-awaited championship. The Canucks (as much as I loathe admitting it) are a perennial contender with an unmatched goaltending duo, the Oilers have what it seems like to be an entire roster of first round picks regardless of how that has played out for them. Minnesota made the biggest splash in this offseason’s Free Agency waters, the Flames quietly had 90 points last season, and the youngest team in the league (Colorado) just recently gave the “C” to a kid who has the skill of Peter Forsberg and the leadership of Joe Sakic. All of that was locked, loaded, and ready to go – and then Gary Bettman, along with his host of billionaire owners, and Donald Fehr decided not to agree on a new CBA.

We’re in Day 2 and I’m having withdrawals, Mike.

It’s like a bad breakup, this new lockout. First I was confused and saw no reason, then I was angry, and now they’re all leaving. The league’s reigning MVP, Evgeni Malkin, has already signed in the KHL, and reports have surfaced today that HC Davos in Switzerland has inked up both big Joe Thornton and new Blueshirt Rick Nash. So much for having a goal scorer on the roster now, New York.

With all of the signs pointing to another season with lost games – let’s pray to Gordie we don’t experience another hockey-less year like ’04-’05 – I’m beginning to wonder where the loyalty is in this new NHL. Talks are stagnant, almost non-existent between the NHLPA and the league, and as much as the players think a YouTube video here and there will get things done, it all has to be hashed out in a conference room and that is going to take time.

With all of this said, I’m real excited to see where this is going to take us, Mike. Let’s just hope when it’s all said and done, we’re talking about Sidney Crosby’s 50 points through the first 25 games. That’s the bold.

I’m off to go buy Syracuse Crunch tickets. Doubt Stevie Y will be there, but keep your fingers crossed.

Mike: I  really truly hope I never have to live in a world where Sidney Crosby has 50 points in 25 games. As a Capitals fan, if I’m rooting for that, you know things have gotten desperate. And nice work on the Northwest Division preview, Mr. Avs fan. Considering my geographical location (less than 90 minutes from the Flyers, Devils, Rangers, and Islanders) I’m sure our western readers will be quite happy with a little less “east coast bias” coming from the hockey columns this year!

I get the frustration that has been heaped on Gary Bettman – the league has now had three work stoppages under his watch, and all three have been lockouts, meaning it’s been initiated by ownership and not the players. This time, though, I don’t blame Bettman (pick your jaw up off the floor, Alex, and hear me out). He didn’t sign ridiculously structured contracts that extended already high salaries over an insane length. With the injury rate of professional hockey players, why is anyone signed for 15 years? It’s ludicrous. Bettman didn’t draft the contracts offered to Rick DiPietro, Ilya Kovalchuck, Roberto Luongo, Evgeni Malkin, and a slew of others, so why is he getting the public backlash? He’s simply working at the owners direction, and the owners – for the second straight bargaining session – have decided they need to broker a deal that keeps them from basically screwing themselves.

Of course, the flip side is that the players, who are still highly irritated by the way the last lockout ended, hired Donald Fehr. You may remember him from such baseball box office classic films as, “We Canceled the World Series,” and, “What Steroids?” Just bringing him on as lead counsel was a shot from the NHLPA across the bow at the owners, basically a signal that they had no intention of seeing this work stoppage end as poorly for them as the last one did. So there’s definitely blame to go around, and it doesn’t appear that we’re going to see 82 games this year, but for once I’m actually not all that upset at Gary Bettman. I still wish he’d just go away, but at least he’s not the one screwing this up. This one is on everybody.

Good luck with those Crunch tickets – I’m sure they’re in high demand. And if you do see Mr. Yzerman, take him out for a few drinks right before he picks the 2014 Canadian Olympic team. It may be our only shot.

Until next time…

During the lockout, “Overtime” will appear every other week with updates from across the league. If and when a new CBA is signed, you’ll be able to check out “Overtime” weekly, here at ultimatecapper.com.

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