(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, October 31, 2012)
Despite lack of evident progress in major league negotiations, hockey goes on. Sure, we can expect the Winter Classic to be cancelled tomorrow, but that hardly qualifies as progress. It represents a big loss for the sport and the league, but I don’t know who believed the NHL was going to get out of this lockout without taking heavy losses. Well, there was that one guy… Anyway, tough deal for Detroit and those Canadians who were looking forward to having a Canadian team in that game. The catch to those losses is that however much money some teams lost under the old CBA, they can apparently afford to lose more.
@PollakOnSharks: “So, @RattoCSN, if it isn’t about the product (and not arguing), this more about egos or some sort of collective economic suicide mission?”
May they lose to their heart’s content– not my problem.
It isn’t easy for NHL fans to transfer their enthusiasm to minor.. err, development league teams. There are statistics to tabulate and other impersonal ways of analyzing team performance, but most fans need to connect on some level with the players on the team. We like to know their names, recognize their faces, be familiar with their playing habits. If you explode the roster all over the planet, most people will have trouble feeling the same passion for a new team in a different league than they knew last season. As a two-teaming fan whose loyalties extend to affiliated minor league teams, it should not be a big leap for me.
Yet until recently, I was unmoved by the adventures of the 2012-13 Worcester Sharks. Probably that was because they were losing all the time and it was too depressing. And yes, I was moping, feeling neglected by the NHL, hockey’s Mr. Big. But in the light of a new day, Mr. Big looks like a jerk. I don’t know how things worked out for Mr. Big and Whatshername but there are other leagues in the sea.
Worcester’s bad start was especially awful in my view because John McCarthy is the Captain now. How could he be so unlucky? Now that they’ve won a couple of games, with McCarthy arguably leading the charge, I remember how many Worcester Sharks I am familiar with. I remember wondering about those free agent signings like Matsumoto and Kearns. I realized that finally Sheppard gets to play, and Stalock will start regularly. We get to see what they bring to the organization. Other AHL teams have been bolstered by an influx of qualified young NHLers too, but there is potential for Worcester to have a good season.
The presence of Brian Marchment behind the bench is a good influence. The team seems to do a whole lot better when he’s there but I can’t be sure since I had my hands over my ears until last week, the scoreboards were so horrifying to see.
I still can’t watch games, because I haven’t purchased the AHL package. I enjoy listening to games and am used to that being how I follow the AHL, so it’s easy to get back into the swing of it.
The Bulls did less well on their recent road trip but they are hanging in there:
The San Francisco Bulls clawed back from 3-0 down, but it was not enough in a hard-fought 3-2 loss to the Alaska Aces, Sunday afternoon at Sullivan Arena. Peter Sivak scored his first North American goal and Evan Barlow tallied his second of the season 32 seconds later, late in the second period to make the game interesting. -SFBulls.com
A loss is a loss but I always feel a little less badly about close ones. The team was outshot by Alaska (44-19, 30-20, 31-19 over three nights), but they did push pretty hard in the third on Sunday. Their games continue to be suspenseful.
Now we have news that Ryane Clowe has signed an agreement with the Bulls. At this point, this is a formality to allow him to practice with them, no one knows if he will play. I have trouble believing he will practice with them and happily watch them go off to games without him, not for long anyway. Devin Setoguchi expects to play his first game with the Ontario Reign this weekend. So why not Clowe?
The only hockey decision I need to make right now is whether to buy the ECHL viewing package or the AHL one. Geographically, the AHL one makes more sense, but game times are not convenient.
Wildcat Betts and I are still working on our agreement. The feral kitten doesn’t really have a name right now. I’m not sure Betts is a name I want to live with, but it will do for this entry.
We appeared to be at an impasse, so I brought in a third party: Old Pip. I know it wasn’t an entirely fair thing to do, since Pip and I are old friends and he must therefore be biased, but Betts’ associates are all unwilling to talk to me and we clearly need help. This is always a problem when you drag a third party into your dispute. It is next to impossible to find someone unbiased.
As it is, I have already used the internet to make my case to the public, but no one has really heard Betts’ side of the story. Maybe Betts is not the best representative of his Colony, maybe I should be dealing with someone who wants to deal. Too bad, Betts is the one in the room.
As soon as I brought Pip in, loudly meowing that he didn’t even want to be there, Betts bounded out of the closet and told Pip all his troubles. Pip answered with some grumpy (or perhaps sympathetic?) hissing. Betts was purring within minutes, even letting me rub his neck. Betts did not seem bothered by the fact that Pip hissed at him. Clearly, they speak each other’s language.
As soon as Pip left, Betts scampered back into his closet and the next day he was back to hissing at me. I would leave them together to work on their own, but I’m afraid that Pip will murder Betts.
I make a point of touching base with Betts several times a day. Time is of the essence, he isn’t getting any younger and a cat’s kitten career is unfairly short. Betts doesn’t seem to appreciate the urgency here.
I still don’t know exactly what Betts needs from this agreement. If I project, I imagine that ear-tipping could be an important subject. Maybe Betts wants me to stop taking cats to have their ears mutilated? This is a deal breaker for me, I have to know who has been trapped and who hasn’t. I don’t know if blunted ear tips are something the group cares about or if it is just Betts’ vanity at work. Unfortunately, the cats represented by Betts are not talking. It’s like someone told them not to.
Tuesday, Colony administration continued without an agreement in place. Unlike some organizations, we cannot simply put a halt to business as usual. These are life and death matters, at the very least they are life and too many lives matters.
I knew it was likely that Betts’ brother would take this opportunity to try for a place at the negotiating table again. This was the fourth time the kitten had ventured into a trap, and I decided it would be the last. I don’t know if an ally for Betts will help or hurt my cause, but I will take a chance that some generosity from the jailer will pay off in the end. I guess I should change Betts’ name to Donny and call his brother Steve. Steve is currently sitting in Donny’s room still in the trap.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that since my old lap-cat died, I really do want another friendly cat. There is a window here for the right cat to get a long term cushy deal. While Donny dithers, there is another cat, Ghengis, lurking around the ranch. When he sees me doing chores, he calls out and lets me pick him up. Donny is not the only cat in the world, even if he has that big league kitten cuteness going for him.
I can’t help thinking how happy it would make some people to see the CBA negotiators locked in cages until they do their job to our satisfaction. I think it is a popular idea among fans especially. Since locking people in cages qualifies as false imprisonment (though surely some Canadian court would be sympathetic), fans cannot do anything to facilitate progress with the NHL’s CBA.
The ECHL, however, having no special provision to prevent locked out players from joining their teams… now that league wants to make us happy. The ECHL cares. Like Ghengis, this young league knows what’s what, sees an opening and is ready to deal. They want to give us a fun night out, I say we take them up on it. The next Bulls home game is Friday, November 9.
Of course, the ECHL has to be careful not to anger the behemoth. They don’t have the fire power to go head to head with the NHL:
Right after Ryane Clowe called the San Francisco Bulls to find out if they’d welcome his presence at practices, the ECHL team’s general manager needed to make a quick courtesy call.
“We didn’t want to burn any bridges,” explained Pat Curcio, who said he phoned the Sharks – Clowe’s regular employer and the team with which the Bulls have an affiliation agreement. -Working the Corners
Tread lightly, ECHL, but go for it. The NHL and its fans don’t have to be a package. If I were an ECHL team, I would consider selling season tickets for 2013-14 right now. I’d strike while fan anger is still hot.