*Musings & Opinions*
1. The hockey world was buzzing last night when Boston based reporter Steve Burton reported that there was a secret meeting between the NHL and NHLPA on Monday leading to a significant breakthrough and an announcement that the lockout is over could be made as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. Initially when I read this report at around mid-night, I like many wished this guy was right but knew that he probably wasn’t. However, I woke up for a minute this morning believing the lockout had actually ended as I had a deep sleep and dreamt that I covered the Penguins season opener that resulted in a 6-5 overtime win against the Islanders with Tyler Kennedy scoring the OT winner. Unfortunately it was just a dream, like it’s a dream that the lockout could actually end this week.
2. One interesting trend throughout the lockout process to watch has been this. Quite a few reporters, pundits try to overhype every new meeting before it happens and when every new proposal is immediately made like it’s going to be any different, only to be let down hours later. I hope today’s players/owners meeting leads to at worst a small breakthrough, and I think it might, but odds are we don’t see a significant breakthrough and more cancellationsare announced on Thursday or Friday and I hope I’m dead wrong, but I still see a deal not getting done until the last minute in the Christmas/early January time frame. However, I still believe we will have hockey this season.
3. Word I’m getting from league contacts is that prominent owners like Geoff Molson and James Dolan, among others, want to have a voice in this process but were not handpicked for the players/owners meeting for a reason. Bettman doesn’t want things to go off message which is why Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards will be a part of today’s meeting. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun had an interesting observation today writing “Jeff Vinik (Lightning owner) has been in the league two years. Mark Chipman (Jets owner) has been in the league one year. Both are in the room today. Why?”. It is a good question and Vinik is said to be very close to Bettman. I don’t expect Penguins Ron Burkle to stay quiet during the meeting and not make his presence known, but remember the Penguins have been strong supporters of Gary Bettman’s direction in these talks and the Penguins want to see a more favorable system in place for the owners. However, Burkle is widely regarded as coming off respectful and trust worthy, which could have a significant impact in today’s talks.
4. Pretty much everyone inside baseball circles will contend that Joel Hanrahan’s value was highest last year and the time for the Pirates was to move him then. Pirates GM Neal Huntington agreed with that assumption yesterday at the Winter Meetings. “Probably last summer was when Joel’s value was the highest that it was going to be,” Huntington told reporters. “It’s awfully tough to trade your closer then. It’s awfully tough to trade your closer now. We’re in a situation where, if we entertain trading any of our players, it’s got to make sense for us short-term and long-term. If it makes sense, we’ll do something. If it doesn’t, we’re good.” Huntington is spot on but just imagine what the outrage would have been if Huntington would have moved Hanrahan at the July 31st trade deadline when the Pirates were right in the thick of a wild card race.
5. Who would you rather have? Jeff Karstens at $3.8 million or John Lannan at let’s say $3.25 million per season? Give me Karstens any day of the week. That’s the type of situation we’re going to be looking at as the Pirates consider back of the rotation starters and they will probably pay one in the $3 to $4 million range. While the Pirates didn’t feel Karstens was durable enough to warrant the $3.8 million salary he was projected to make, you knew what you were getting with him, great in the clubhouse, and he has value in the bullpen if he struggles in the rotation. Letting Karstens go might backfire on the team.
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