(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Two questions for this week’s mailbag, both stemming from posts this week.
Q: Why the hate for Bickel? You tweeted he’s probably the whipping boy, but I don’t know why you feel that way.
Yes, I did tweet that Stu Bickel is likely to be the whipping boy this year. But to be clear, we don’t necessarily agree with having any one particular whipping boy. It just so happens that Bickel has been horrid this year, and his struggles extend to last year during the playoffs as well. Bickel has found himself out of position more times than we can remember, and his skating isn’t where it needs to be for the NHL level. But that doesn’t make him a whipping boy, that just makes him a matchup defenseman. People will look to him as a whipping boy because he was played at forward while Chris Kreider sat as a “healthy scratch.” In fact, Kreider has an ankle injury. Regardless, unless Bickel turns this around, he may find himself as the whipping boy.
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Slow start? No problem.
Three questions came in over the past week, so let’s get to them. As always, feel free to email us with any questions or concerns.
Q: What’s with the owners making the concession to discuss the make whole provision? That’s significant progress, right?
Q: Isn’t the timing of this concession by the owners wrong? They just canceled the Winter Classic, and now they show they can negotiate?
Well, yes and no. It’s progress because it shows a willingness to get back to the table. Both sides talking is better than neither side talking. After all, not talking is why they are in this mess to begin with.
But don’t be fooled with the way some in the media have spun this. The owners didn’t make a concession for the make whole provision. The provision itself was incredibly misleading, and it actually prevented a true 50/50 split. The owners know they need to pay the players what they are owed. It’s just a PR thing really.
Before jumping to conclusions about the owners “willingness to negotiate the ‘make whole’ provision”, it’s important to note the timing. The afternoon started with canceling the Winter Classic, and the afternoon ended with “a significant concession by the owners.” It’s all PR. Don’t buy into what the media is spinning. Read the details and make up your own mind.
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Q: At what point do both sides realize they are really messing up the game? Both sides are trying to win this PR battle, but we are so **** (Dave edit, sorry) sick of this. We just want hockey.
A: I honestly thought that neither side would be stupid enough to cancel the Winter Classic. That is their big money maker, and without it their revenues go in the toilet. However, that is now on the chopping block, with rumors saying it will be gone as early as Monday. When that goes, there is nothing preventing the owners from holding out for the entire year. As for the players, they are united behind Donald Fehr, so they will do what he recommends. Considering he was the union rep behind five MLB work stoppages, I’m pretty sure he won’t “crack” either.
Q: What alternatives do I have? I obviously can’t watch the Rangers and college hockey is barely televised. MSG just started showing some KHL games, so I guess that’s a plus.
A: Well those KHL games will likely be a bit more popular as the lockout extends into its third month. I’d expect MSG to pick up some more games, especially those that have Ryan McDonagh involved. You can get streams of the Connecticut Whale games online from various places. Those are likely your best bet, as you can watch Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kyle Jean. The Whale will have the players most ready for the NHL. I don’t know of any streams for the SEL (Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast). There are streams for the OHL (Peter Ceresnak), QMJHL (Sam Noreau), and WHL (Michael St. Croix, Shane McColgan) floating around, but I don’t know where.
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