Hockey Headlines

Friday, 18 March 2016

Around The Rinks

There have been a bunch of smaller stories that have passed me by this week, so it's time to catch up on all the news and information that may have some relevance to you in your hockey passion. There will probably be some non-hockey stuff worked in here, so you'll have to deal with a few tangents that I take you on, but we'll find our way back to the hockey stories, I assure you. Feel free to comment on any or all topics below. I'm sure you'll find something about which take me to task.

Business 101

There was an email sent to a number of women's hockey writers that described a pile of problems within the NWHL's offices including a serious threat made from Bauer towards the league about non-payment for equipment. The league, sensing a PR disaster, issued a response on behalf of Bauer and itself that basically said that one payment had been missed and that everything had been smoothed over.

There were a pile of pro-NWHL writers who came out and stated that this issue had been blown out of proportion and that the league did the right thing in making up the missed payment. Do any of these writers live in the real world?

I've spent time as a loan officer who grants credit to consumers. I will tell you right now that the indication of missed payments and a threat of collections should have everyone worried. It indicates a lack of cash flow in terms of servicing debt. Collection agencies usually look for a trend of missed payments before they'll intervene, and the standard period is 90 days of non-payment before a case can be referred to them in order to allow the payer to make right with the payee on the financial side. Based on the dates of the emails and Bauer's threat of collections, I'd say that the 90-day grace period was long overdue.

Without knowing more, a lack of cash flow may also explain why merchandise pools dried up. Regardless, having a vendor threaten to take the league to collections not only ruins any goodwill between Bauer and the NWHL, but may also scare off other vendors who now worry about being paid. It makes it hard for businesses to not ask questions about payment scheduling and being paid in full if a company like Bauer is threatening legal action.

By having the league confirm that they missed payments is an admission to everyone that either they didn't care about Bauer's demand for payment or that there were confirmed cash flow problems. Both are damaging for the league's reputation.

More Email Problems

There were other allegations in the email sent to the various reporters that indicated there were additional problems. Riveters head coach Chad Wiseman was denied entry into the US, apparently, and the email indicated that the IRS and US Immigration is now investigating the NWHL for Wiseman not having a proper visa and for paying him in cash as opposed to having him on a payroll (and thereby confirming his valid and legal employment).

Neither Wiseman nor the league has spoken out about this allegation, but if the allegation regarding Bauer and the NWHL has been confirmed as true through the league's statement, would anyone doubt the veracity of the other allegations?

All That Glitters

There were a ton of people on social media who attacked anyone who questioned the NWHL on any of its business practices. If they couldn't attack, they dismissed the accounts and stories as being false. I understand how blind faith works and the belief in the NWHL is real. I'm not faulting anyone for believing the league was conducting business ethically and fairly because the fa├žade always made it seem free of tarnish. But there has been some judging of the book based solely on its cover.

The players have never been at fault for wanting to be paid. The questions have always been about the business side of the game. You cannot start a professional hockey league through a Google search without knowing what to search for which means that you had knowledge from somewhere else. You can't tell media and players that you're playing at a rink when you don't have a contract and, in fact, never had a contract to play there. You cannot not pay your partners and vendors for a minimum of three months and expect that everything comes out roses.

If this were the NHL or AHL, there would be hard scrutiny from all walks of media if these problems arose there. Scrutiny is what allows for transparency, and that's all that's ever been asked of the league. No one is asking for them to open their books and explain every line of their accounting practices, but honesty is expected. It's the continual failure of honesty that plagues the league. Let's just hope that 88 women hockey players don't pay for it.

TV Commercials Are Garbage

I would never drink their crap as it is, but Mountain Dew Kickstarter commercials are the worst thing on television that last less than one minute. I will guarantee that there is not one person on this planet swayed by a "puppy-monkey-baby". In fact, if that hybrid monstrosity crashed through your door, I'm betting you wouldn't accept its gift of caffeine-filled sugary drinks let alone allow it to kick your bowl of popcorn over or lick your face. That thing is beyond creepy and its CGI-designed walking make it look like its about to topple over.

Absolute garbage, Mountain Dew. Stop spewing it on TV.

Tank Job 2016

There are a number of Canadian teams in the running for the best chance at winning the NHL Draft Lottery, but we really need to start looking at what a true "tank job" is. The 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins pulled a tank job for the right to select some kid named Mario Lemieux. What we're seeing today by a few teams is not a tank job by definition.

The Penguins dealt Norris Trophy winner Randy Carlyle to the Winnipeg Jets for a first-overall pick and a player-to-be-named. In other words, nothing came back to the Steel City that would help them immediately. Starting goalie Roberto Romano was sent to Baltimore in the AHL and replaced by unproven Vincent Tremblay who had done nothing to warrant a call-up. In other words, the already-weak Penguins made themselves complete door mats for anyone who came to town as they went 3-17-1 down the stretch to finish in last place in the NHL.

Today's Maple Leafs have promoted a bunch of talent, but these players are blue-chip talent and have helped the Maple Leafs win a few games. Head coach Mike Babcock is looking for these players - Kapanen, Nylander, Soshnikov, and more - to prove themselves in the NHL now so that they'll have a legitimate shot at making the team next season. So far, the kids are doing alright and the Leafs have won a few games since promoting the kids.

The Winnipeg Jets have found themselves with some injuries to their regulars, so the promotion of the kids from the Manitoba Moose was necessary. There were as many as five players out of the lineup, and the Jets needed to fill holes. Adding the good, young players from the Moose allows the Jets to ice a full lineup and compete on most night even if they still end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

While it's easy to point at these two teams who have a stack of young, inexperienced players in their lineups and exclaim "tank job", I have yet to see Penguins-style evidence of a tank. Auston Matthews is an exceptional player, but the key about the lottery is that the 30th-overall team isn't even guaranteed the first-overall pick. It just gives that team a 20% chance of winning it.

As they say in life, the only guarantees are death and taxes. Lottery picks certainly fall into neither category in the NHL.

That Was Short

Dennis Wideman returns from a suspension that lasted 19 games. Dennis Wideman plays games against the Arizona Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets. Dennis Wideman gets hurt in the game against the Jets. Dennis Wideman's season is over after it was announced he has a serious triceps injury.

Let's just call this season a write-off for the veteran defenceman.

More Wayne and Daryl

If you missed the announcement last week on The Hockey Show, Letterkenny will return for a second season on CraveTV! Wayne and Daryl, played by Friend of the Show Jared Keeso and Nathan Dales respectively, will bring their small-town craziness back to the web-streaming service for at least another six episodes. It appears another crazy Canadian TV series is on the verge of a major breakout!

Congratulations to all those working on Letterkenny on a second season!

See You April

The Dallas Stars announced today that Tyler Seguin will be out until the playoffs with a "15% tear" in his Achilles tendon. While that's pretty much a no-brainer in keeping him off the ice, you have to wonder if his injury is going to hurt the Stars' playoff standing. Dallas currently leads the Western Conference in points, meaning they'd have home-ice advantage through the Western Conference portion of the playoffs. They'd also be facing the second wild card team - currently the Colorado Avalanche - in the opening round.

With St. Louis two points behind and Chicago three points behind, Dallas could potentially fall to third-place in the Central Division and end up having to start the playoffs on the road against either St. Louis or Chicago. Suddenly, losing Tyler Seguin could be a lot more costly than just a few weeks of missing their top centerman.

There's a quick update from Friday night. If you have comments, concerns, or questions, fire away in the comment section. It's always more fun with a little interaction! And if you're looking for some great hockey action, Sportsnet ONE has CIS women's hockey semifinal action on Saturday before the CIS women's hockey final goes on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports on Sunday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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