On NHL/NHLPA, Team USA, Mike Wallace, Todd Haley & Bruce Arians

WEDNESDAY’S DAILY FIVE

*Musings & Opinions on Today’s Latest Buzz*
1. Here’s what to watch in the Mike Wallace situation in the next six to eight weeks. Wallace has full plans to test the open market and possibly go to the highest bidder, but the Steelers front office still has just as much of an interest to resign him as they did last year. Indications right now are Pittsburgh will make a strong attempt to resign Wallace, which some might be surprised about, but it still likely won’t be enough and there’s questions about whether Wallace really wants to stay here even if the money was right. He was not very happy with his role in Todd Haley’s offense. If Haley leaves, it increases Pittsburgh’s chances to keep Wallace if the market is not great for Wallace.
However, I’d put the percentages at less than 20%, he returns in 2013. Don’t be surprised, though, to hear talk in the coming months of Wallace wanting to stay if possible, as his agent will want to keep the Steelers in mix as he tries to drive up the price. Bus Cook is a good agent and he will do what he can to keep the Steelers around as long as he can, even if Wallace has no plans to resign here.
2. Todd Haley is a very serious candidate for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job and Steelers sources I spoke with this afternoon believed if the job is offered, Haley will take the job in a second. One source told me last week, Haley “isn’t comfortable here {in Pittsburgh}.”
3. Bruce Arians has gone from “retirement” to now a hot coaching candidate in NFL circles. Arians has a great situation in Indianapolis where he’s very well liked by ownership to the fans, all the way down. Following his success this season as interim coach and the Colts making the playoffs, it’s a comfortable situation for Arians where gets to work with Andrew Luck but after getting a taste of the head coaching experience, this could be a chance of a lifetime for Arians to take a head coaching job. If he leaves Indy, Arians wants to go somewhere where they have a stable quarterback situation. The one team that is very serious about Arians is San Diego, regarded by some as a front runner there, and the Bears are also looking to bring Arians in for an interview early next week.
4. Posturing…..Posturing….Posturing….. The players and NHL are like sharks right now. As the so-called January 11th deadline looms, both sides are trying to get everything they can. The frustrating part is that we could be seeing a deal get done this week if the two sides came to their senses but like I’ve been saying for months, it’s going to be a last minute/11th hour deal and I now feel the league made a mistake telling the NHLPA the exact drop-dead date. Fehr is going to drag this out until at least the weekend and might not even take that date so serious and bait Bettman to actually cancel the season. Developments today included the NHLPA now going to the courts as they have filed a request to have the NHL lawsuit from December thrown out (had to file a response by Jan 7th) and they have authorized another players vote (48 hour window) to give them the option to file a disclaimer after the players opted not to last night.
The core issues that remain include salary cap for year 2, salary variance, contract term and pensions. The league continues to take a hard stance seeking a $60 million cap, while the players have now come down to $65 million. A reasonable compromise is to use the 2011-2012 cap and go with a $64 million cap for year 2 and beyond. Despite all the doom and gloom today, expect a deal to still get done.
5. It’s a great day for USA Hockey as Team USA put on a dominating performance against Canada in the semifinals of the World Junior Championships in UFA, defeating Canada, 5-1, advancing to the Gold Medal game (Sat 8:00 am) against Sweden. It’s a huge disappointment for Canada who were loaded with NHL talent. Team USA’s speed has been evident all tournament and goaltender John Gibson looks like the real deal. Will have some observations about the game posted later tonight.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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