1. Mediation means nothing
There were two things I didn’t know or had forgotten about the federal mediation process: 1) The league and PA used it last time to little effect, and 2) nothing the mediators say or decide is in any way binding.
That leads me to believe that, much like the NHLPA’s threat of decertifying, there’s nothing that will ultimately come of all this. Even leaving aside that whole Twitter flap, this thing seems like a pretty transparent move by the league to agree to it. For one thing, the whole point of decertification — again, it is something of which the league is absolutely terrified — is because the PA feels that the NHL is not bargaining in good faith.
Because the federal mediation process, again, comes with no actual commitments attached to it other than Gary Bettman letting some new people into the room for fun, this is probably — likely, almost certainly — a charade to establish how hard the NHL has worked toward Bargaining In Good Faith and Not Being Unreasonable In Negotiations. Which it hasn’t and it is, but this is all complicated legal stuff I fully admit to not understanding.
I mean, look, like I said on Twitter the other day, Daly said on Friday that he didn’t think mediation was a path forward, and then on Monday the league makes an agreement to do exactly that? Either Daly missed a meeting or things got really real at head office, or, more likely, they figured this was a thing they could do to save a little bit of face both for the public and whatever courtrooms they might end find themselves in down the road.
2. Speaking of which…
Matt Stajan recently came out and told the Calgary Sun that he’s super-duper hopeful mediation solves something.
"Obviously, [making a major move in the owners’ direction with regard to the split of HRR] didn’t work out, so hopefully, bringing in a mediator will help the process get moving and get it resolved," he told the paper. "We want to get back playing."
Poor Matt. This is maybe the poorest attempt at spin I’ve seen in this entire lockout, and I’ve seen everything Bettman’s had to say on the matter. C’mon dawg, a little bit of effort out there.
But here was the best part, in my opinion: "We’re committed to getting a deal done. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll look at other options. It seems like we keep negotiating against ourselves."
So wishy-washy and ineffective. Has Stajan ever done anything right in his entire time as a Flame?
3. The shutout streak
So Barry Brust broke a million-year-old record once held by Johnny Bower. That’s pretty damn cool.
A couple things spring to mind when I think about it. First, it’s arguably more impressive than any other runs at the record that might have shaken out in the past five decades, given the quality of the AHL this season. Plus, the fact that he did it across three-plus games in three different weeks is pretty impressive as well because it’s not like he’s running out there for back-to-backs on the regular to do it.
On the other hand, you really can’t like the fact that this franchise’s former first-round pick goalie is losing what should, in theory, be his starting job to Barry Brust, who’s 29 and a career AHLer, and Danny Taylor, who at least has the common courtesy to be a 26-year-old career AHLer. It has to be more than a little worrying just how bad Irving has been this season, and Kent had a really great post about that the other day, which you should check out.
I mean, at least there’s Laurent Brossoit, Joni Ortio and Jon Gillies in the pipleline, right? Right?
4. Speaking of which (Part 2)…
I really can’t believe the Heat are still winning a lot.
Through Tuesday night, they’re still at just two regulation losses in 18 games. The penalty kill is still running at north of 91 percent. And all this is happening with the offense slowing considerably. Remember when everyone thought Roman Horak’s 10 goals was a crazy amount? Yeah, he’s still at 10 goals, and hasn’t scored since Nov. 2.
To give you an idea of just how slow the offense has grown, though, here are some stats: They were recently shut out in back-to-back games but still managed to win one of those in the shootout as part of Brust’s streak. Now, to be fair, the Heat have played their last five games on the road, and won three and earned points in four (the only regulation loss was 5-0 to Toronto, the shootout loss was Saturday to San Antonio). In fact, all but two of Abbotsford’s five non-wins have been on the road.
It’s truly amazing what they’ve been able to accomplish in their own rink and, starting this weekend, they’re on a four-game homestand. Again, you gotta wonder how long all of this can last.
5. I’ve been shirking my responsibilities
Earlier this year I promised you scouting reports from both Boston College and Providence College, which have two Flames prospects apiece. So far, you’ve gotten one for BC, and that’s it. Well, the good news is that next Friday, BC and Providence actually play each other, and I will go and have all kinds of information for you about all four Flames prospects participating in the game.
If you have any specific questions you’d like to ask, get at me on Twitter (see my signature below) or via email ([email protected]) and I’ll try kind of hard to address them if I can.