NHL owners are a fickle bunch. They’re savvy investors, skillful prognosticators, overall captains of industry. But what Joey Middle Class and Johnny Blue Collar fail to understand is that these billionaires who preside over the day-to-day actions of the NHL franchises we all know and love and used to watch play hockey is that they too are human. Behind the steely gaze of a Murray Edwards or brash bravado of an Ed Snider is a small, withered, insecure husk of a man who wants everyone to like them and hopes that no one is around to embarrass them when they try to talk to girls.
Part of that insecurity we have to acknowledge as hockey fans is that these owners are prone to mistakes. Proprietorship over a club is like having that whole collection of Ninja Turtle action figures you had as a kid, except on a much larger scale where there are real people involved. Who you control. Safe to say, that power can go to your head. Owners who fall prey to their own egos will test the limits of what is accepted or rational or allowed, just to see if anyone tries to get in their way and stop them (Exhibit A). Naturally, this can get owners in trouble, and unfortunately, they don’t see the errors of their ways until it’s a little bit too late (Might I once again remind you to take a gander at Exhibit A?!?!)
But, as luck would have it, these executives are empathetic and tend to look out for each other, as if they let one man go down based on his own merit as a billionaire, that’s one less person they can play laser missile squash with at their secret rich guy clubs that we’re not supposed to know about. As such, they band together, looking for ways to safeguard their power and vast influence from their single greatest nemesis:
Somebody Save Me
This is what the NHL owners are looking to do in this latest CBA quagmire. Protect themselves from being able to do the things they are free to do currently (or previously before the last lock-out) in a very open market: Long term contracts, bonus laden deals, hundreds of million dollars being bandied about as liberally as camera phones at Paulina Gretzky’s house on Instagram night. Basically anything that happened in the process of making Exhibit A happen. These are no longer acceptable, and the owners aren’t going to stand for this chicanery anymore.
And it’s trickling down.
Meaning that, to be included in the new CBA whenver it finally gets inked, individual NHL teams are also going to be subject to new clauses that insulate them from their own poor judgement. Here at the Nation, we have countless anonymous insiders who grant us a lot of access into these negotiations, which is why we were able to obtain some sneak peeks at some of these new clauses NHL teams are going to have to abide by. Check them out, why don’t you?
Anaheim Ducks – No longer allowed to mention the name Bobby Ryan in trade negotiations. Further to that, they literally can no longer trade Bobby Ryan. The Ducks are not yet aware that the disgruntled young sniper has already escaped the clutches of Terry Murray’s cronies and is now spending his days quietly lighting it up in a Los Angeles inner city roller hockey league. The money might not be as good and he never finds himself doing quirky video projects with Ryan Getzlaf on NHL Awards night, but he’s enjoying life out of the limelight and is much happier now, thank you.
Boston Bruins – Cannot employ any homophobic wingnut goaltenders who decide to have a mid life crisis while still under contract and take a year off, under the guise of spending more time with family and God, while secretly plotting an underground conspirtacy coup with the intention of overthrowing the government and their hippie ideals. This clause is non negotiable except in the case where the absence of said Cocoa Puffs goaltender loses his damn mind, but the team has a capable backup to fill the void and is NOT IN ANY WAY PRONE TO CHRONIC GROIN INJURIES.
It is deemed unlikely that such a scenario would ever exist.
Buffalo Sabres – Ryan Miller’s crease is to be expanded by 6 feet in diameter and be equipped with laster trip wires around the perimeter. Any opposing forward who comes within a foot of the fragile goaltender will explode on contact with the tripwire, thus preventing the need for any Sabres defender to try to step in and save their goalie from a concussion, or a "concussion", or whatever the ailment Miller says he will acquire from the collision.
Furthermore, Ville Leino is to be shot and stuffed and erected directly in front of the desk in Darcy Regier’s office as a constant reminder that he is prone to being dumb and signing mid level players to superstar money after one overachieving season.
Calgary Flames – The Flames have already activated one obscure provision in the NHL bylaws from 1926 that states that "no one team shall ever be allowed to acquire Olli Jokinen through any means more than thrice", which is clunky and obtuse, but nonetheless protects the Flames from ever going through that mess ever again.
Not that the Flames don’t need to be saved. The team has instituted several new rules barring themselves from ineptitude, including the full out prevention of trades that in anyway involve the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is a subset of the new "stop hiring people named Sutter" policy.
Also, to save a bit of time and paperwork, every new Flames contract will automatically come with a NTC.
Carolina Hurricanes – Acquire any man, woman, or pet who has the last name Staal and just throw them out their on the ice, just to see if it works.
Consider changing name to Carolina Hurricane Sandys to see if it improves overall performance when playing against teams in the Atlantic Division.
Chicago Blackhawks – Um, yeah, the Hawks signed Pierre Gauthier to be their new Director of Player Development. The guy who traded FOR Tomas Kaberle last season, and actually traded Mike Cammalleri in the middle of a game. So the first thing to do there is to go back in time and get off whatever drug it was when Stan Bomwan and friends made that call.
Aside from that, the Blackhawks have decided that anytime the team does anything on or off the ice, they have Jonny Toews present. Good things just always seem to happen when the kid’s around.
Colorado Avalanche – No longer allowed to sign Peter Forsberg to any contracts, no matter how many times he tries to assure you that his foot is fine and he’s ready to make a contract. Because we all know that’s coming. However, if Joe Sakic says he’s coming back, oh you better believe he’s coming back, so get on that.
This should go without saying, but the Avalanche are also strongly encouraged to never consider being the Colorado Rockies, because that didn’t work out so well last time.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Scott Howson is to be placed in a rocket and shot into the sun.
Dallas Stars – Keep being in Dallas, Tom Gagliardi, because no one is going to the games and therefore the fact that you spent 4.5 million on a 41 year old Jaromir Jagr and that should work out great for you will go unnoticed.
That 2 million a year for Adam Pardy was also pretty failsafe. Keep up the good work!
Detroit Red Wings – Trying to play God, the Wings are attempting to take a page from the movie Junior and see if there’s maybe any kind of way they can make Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk mate with each other (what a twist!) and have them spawn a litter of hockey superbabies. Then develop all of them into late round draft picks that go on to help you win 16 more cups in the next 20 years,.
Maybe see if you could make one of two of them learn how to play goal, just to be safe.
Edmonton Oilers – Petition the league relentlessly until they concede and make it mandatory for the Oilers to recieve the number one overall pick every year regardless of performance (in which they are likely to finish anywhere between third and fifth last anyway, so it’s not that much of a concession).
The above provision is contingent upon the Oilers never, ever trying to sign a high profile RFA unless it’s expressly done to try and make Brian Burke follow through on his "fighting someone in a barn" mandate.
Any star player who approaches management about a trade out of Edmonton is to be smacked on the nose with a newspaper and told to return to their cage.
Florida Panthers – Dale Tallon is allowed to do anything he wants, until he proves he’s way out of his damn mind. He can keep acquiring as many players as possible who were members of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, as well as sign any player who is a free agent ever.
The Panthers are allowed to send a team representative to break into the office of any General Manager in the league and delete the contact info for Roberto Luongo’s agent out of his cell phone.
Los Angeles Kings – Continue to bring in players from other teams (read: Philadelphia) who are considered to be bad teammates who drink too much, party too much, probably killed a guy that one time behind the alley of that Cheese Steak Deli, and are not considered conducive to success. Because, hell, this is Hollywood, the place that dreams are made of. People doing shady things is not only expected, but accepted. It’s called the Lindsay Lohan Effect.
Also, maybe getting to get Gretzky to do something one way or the other probably couldn’t hurt.
Minnesota Wild – Sure it’s too early to tell, but maybe spending 200 million dollars on two players is probably something the Wild would want to avoid in the future. The next CBA should prevent the Wild from excercising that right, but perhaps that be something they just keep in mind. A statue of former Wild superstar Marian Gaborik in his New York Rangers jersey is to be raised outside the Excel Energy Centre as a reminder that throwing money at a problem doesn’t always fix it.
It’s also been announced that the Wild are forcing Dany Heatley to demand a trade. Again.
Montreal Canadiens – While the rich history of the Canadiens and their synonymy with French Canadian culture will continue to be preserved and recognized, they are expanding on their policy – from now on, all coaches and team captains will be expected to be able to speak French, but also on the off chance they don’t, it will be acceptable if they only speak English, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Pig Latin, Orkan, Klingon, or French.
Also, Montreal demands they be forbidden from ever bailing out Glen Sather again.
Nashville Predators – When he’s not looking, Shea Weber’s contract was stolen and editied to include a stipulation that states that he’s not ever allowed to leave the Predators ever, including, but not limited to, "the culmination of his current contract, any future contract he will sign, upon his retirement, and that fateful day, decades from now, when the cold, clammy hand of Death outstretches his withered finger and drags Weber kicking and screaming into the foreboding abyss for all eternity".
New Jersey Devils – Expanding on their current affiliation with the Devil, the club is now accepting the sacrifice of souls to the real Prince of Darkness in exchange for the continued success on the ice. Satan’s nephew, Devil’s GM Lou Lamoriello, confirmed the news of the deal at a press conference where reporters were then given an exclusive photo op with Beelzebub and team legend Marty Brodeur standing back to back in New Jersey sweaters.
One random photographer was then blindsided by Scott Stevens, and the Devil then sucked out any remaining aura attached to the felled journalist, before confirming that the cameraman was worth at least a trip to the Conference Semi-Finals.
New York Rangers – Mysterious mob style attacks on Claude Giroux’s legs are to not be traced back to the Rangers in any way, and will truly remain a mystery that cannot be explained. You’re best not to go sniffing around trying to get to the bottom of it either, if you know get my drift.
The shocking death, seemingly through visious canine assault, of New York Post sports reporter Larry Brooks will be far easier to figure out, however, as John Tortorella will laugh and laugh and laugh anytime anyone asks him anything about it.
Also, Sather is to be allowed to "take back" any major UFA errors he makes because sometimes "he totally didn’t mean it and his fingers were crossed."
New York Islanders – Truly a tragic and doomed franchised poised never to succeed ever again. Word is Garth Snow had the most idiosyncratic demands of any GM, but everyone just laughed at him. As a bit of advice, however, he was told to not sign injury prone goalies to two-decade long contracts.
Ottawa Senators – Continue to let star players have their talents and skills wane until they fade into obscurity on other teams after messy and public contract disputes and trade demands come to a head and the team is forced to move on. Further to this, the team is no longer allowed to pick up Jonathan Cheechoo as a result of these blowups, but that is not percieved to be an issue.
Philadelphia Flyers – Ed Snider shall remain atop the Commissioner’s shoulder wearing the pitchfork and horns, influencing the League to make all current and future financial developments benefit mostly just Philadelphia, or else something bad will allegedly happen, I guess.
The team is also to acquire every goaltender currently under NHL contract in the hopes that maybe one or two of them aren’t going to go Tiger Vodka Mad and then forget how to keep pucks from flying past them into the net.
Something about Eric Lindros.
Phoenix Coyotes – Phoenix management has lobbied hard to continue their ownership deal with the NHL, as everything has seemed to benefit them pretty well under this arrangement. If they can get the league to sign off on a 22 million dollar contract on a 36 year old Shane Doan, they’re pretty confident they can sneak just about anything else through as well.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby is to be placed in carbonite a la Han Solo at anytime he is not needed on the ice. Also required to wear two helmets. While sleeping.
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury is to be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. His replacement will be the legendary Jean Claude Van Damme, who you’ll remember played "Canadian born Pittsburgh firefighter Darren McCord" (a truly Belgian name if I’ve ever heard one) in the film Sudden Death, which included a scene where McCord dons the pads and plays goal for the Penguins. In Game 7. Of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins goaltending will see absolutely no change to it’s SV%, but Van Damme costs less, and can protect Sidney Crosby from terrorists and David Steckel.
San Jose Sharks – Since it never matters if the Sharks are good or bad, they are eternally cursed and will never win a Stanley Cup for reasons probably mostly mystical and unknown, the team is allowed to do whatever the hell it wants, as it’s never going to make a difference anyway.
They sholuld probably try to do something cool with Joe Thornton though.
St. Louis Blues – Surely losing a great hockey guy like now former Team President John Davidson thanks to new ownership looking to immediately cut costs will have no negative effect on the Blues and their promising young lineup poised to go far with the right leadership in place, so nothing to report here.
Tampa Bay Lightning – In what for most people would seem like down home common sense, the Lightning have put in place a policy that explicitly states that under no circumstances can Barry Melorse coach the team or Steven Stamkos ever, EVER again. This policy shall remain in place through Tampa Bay’s next 12 ownership regimes in the next six years and Steve Yzerman’s tearful resignation from the team, which we all know is coming someday, somehow.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Effective immediately, the word truculent is to be stricken from the English language and never used ever again, thus saving the Leafs from themselves and forcing them to build teams based around players who are, you know, good (Off in the distance, the soft tears of Colton Orr could be heard streaming down his rugged face).
In related news, in an effort to foster more of a culture of winning at the Air Canada Center, the team has announced it will no longer be celebrating it’s annual Mike Palmateer night, a tradition in which select season ticket holders are invited to center ice before the start of a game and asked to tell the world all the things they liked about former Leafs tender Mike Palmateer, who has never been invited to attend.
Finally, the Leafs stipulate that all future trades will occur with NOT the Boston Bruins.
Vancouver Canucks – Leaflets are to be distributed throughout the entire city of Vancouver designed to indoctrinate the citizens and fans of the team that winning the President’s Trophy is a far more important and worthy achievement than winning the Stanley Cup. To keep up appearances, Canucks players with Twitter are requested to take photos and place them online documenting their day spent with the President’s Trophy in their hometowns. Kevin Bieksa will tweet a photo of himself taking part in the age old tradition of eating a pizza off of the top plate.
Fans will believe this, cheer voraciously, and search eternally to find Alexandre Burrows’ name on the trophy when making the pilgrimage to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Washington Capitals – Disgruntled superstar and Capitals moneymaker Alex Ovechkin will be brought back to Washington after his candid comments about Russian players staying home after the lockout and having their contracts honoured and sat down for a private one-on-one discussion with Caps owner, Ted Leonsis. Leonsis is to labour hard on the details about DC’s penchant for gun violence and what the potential realities of such a fact could be. Capiche, Ovy?
Ovechkin will then score 60 goals a year or more out of sheer terror and awareness of his own mortality.
Winnipeg Jets – Dustin Byfuglien and Kyle Wellwood are to donate half of every lunch they have during the season to local food banks, thus creating a nicely forged bond with the city’s charitable branch and cementing the Jets’ place as community pillars, while simultaneously guaranteeing the ice at the MTS Center has far less cracks in it.
The resulting smoother ice surface should allow Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec toTOTALLY LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS after signing such well deserved contracts in the offseason.
The City, not convinced, requests that next time a team packs up and relocates to Winnipeg, it be one that is way better than the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Times, They Are A-Changin’
These are the tiny adjustments teams are making to their own policies and are expected to coincide nicely with the new CBA, whenever that happens, and much like after the followout from the last lockout, the changes to the policies for each team is likely to usher in a new era of exciting hockey.
And with that in mind, and how it affects the way teams build up their rosters, I have no problem being the first to give congratulations to the 2014 President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks.