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Category: Business of Hockey

Champions League for hockey? Yes, please.

Just picture a puck, instead of a soccer ball.

Just picture a puck, instead of a soccer ball.

Last week, Craig Custance at ESPN published an article about the NHL’s plans to expand its global brand.  Most of the article discussed further expanding outdoor games, the resurrection of the World Cup of Hockey, and the finalization of an agreement that would send NHL players to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics.  There was one more idea condensed to one little blurb in the text:

He’s also intrigued by the idea of a Champions League, featuring games between the NHL’s and Europe’s best teams.”We love the idea of the power of the team competition,” he said. “Maybe we bring NHL teams over to play the best teams in Europe. How do we stage stage that? That’s definitely something we’re looking at.”

For those unfamiliar with European professional football, the concept is pretty simple: there are various high quality professional football leagues throughout Europe, let’s play a tournament to crown a champion of them all.

The format is quite complicated for qualification, but one you get past that, its quite elegant.  There are 8 groups of 4 teams.  No teams from the same league can be in a group together and no league can send more than 4 teams to participate.  Seeding determines the composition of the group.  During this group stage, each of the 4 teams play home and home round robins against one another.  After the 6 game group stage, the top two teams in each group advance to the tournament proper. Read more »

Latest NHL realignment plan good for the bottom line

This past week there were many reports indicating that the NHL will soon announce a four division realignment plan as opposed to just swapping Winnipeg for Detroit, Columbus, or Nashville.

As you can see above with this great map, the realignment plan will consist of 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West. The scheduling plan is for division opponents to play each other four times a season and the rest of the league at least twice a year.

Here are some pros and cons to go with this new plan.

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How the Ryan O’Reilly contract affects Derek Stepan

Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?

Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?

Ryan O’Reilly was touted in various circles as a potential trade target for the Rangers during the team’s recent poor stretch of form. That was until he signed back with the Avalanche via an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. In the process, O’Reilly may have just caused a headache for the Rangers.

O’Reilly signed a two year, $10 million offer sheet from the Flames which the Avalanche were quick to match. In a nutshell, the talented fourth year Avs center is now making five million per year (cap hit) the next two years. Here’s where the problems start. O’Reilly; statistics, position, style and age is very similar and thus a comparable to the Rangers’ Derek Stepan. Stepan is about to become a restricted free agent this summer.

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Appreciating the Bauer One100 goalie skate

Image Credit: Bauer.com

Image Credit: Bauer.com

Since the Rangers have been kind of bumming me out recently (last night’s domination notwithstanding), I thought I’d take a look at a relatively recent development in goalie equipment and how it has revolutionized the industry.  In the skate department, that innovator generally tends to be Bauer.  On both the player and goalie side there have significant landmark products that change the landscape of how skates are constructed, utilized and improved.

Starting back with the original Vapor line, Bauer sought to reduce weight, while increasing stiffness and quality of the materials used in skate construction.  In 2003, Bauer had its biggest breakthrough in skate technology, the Vapor XX.  This skate was the lightest skate ever built at the time, and absolutely took the hockey world by storm.  I was working at a pro-shop at the time, and remembered thinking they had lightened them up to the point they felt like a running shoe.  It was insane.

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Addressing two new loopholes in the new CBA

Mmmm, loopholes.

Mmmm, loopholes.

It’s been less than 48 hours since the Memo of Understanding has been signed, and there have already been two loopholes identified in the new CBA. In his 30 Thoughts this week (one of my personal favorite columns), Elliotte Friedman of CBC identified these two loopholes, and asked Bill Daly about how they would be addressed.

The first loophole is one that’s been talked about for a while, and it’s the sign-and-trade loophole. Currently, teams can re-sign their own players for a year longer than they would get as a UFA, but this doesn’t stop the team from trading the player. This opens up the possibility for a player to re-sign with his own team, then the team can trade him to his eventual destination. This happens regularly in the NBA.

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The Luongo Rule and Brad Richards

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

One point of the new CBA that negatively affects the Rangers is the new “Luongo Rule.” This rule was designed to punish teams that circumvented the last CBA and signed players to back-diving deals. The Rangers have one of these deals in Brad Richards, who made $12 million in his two years of his nine-year deal, and sees his salary drop to $1 million by 2017-2018.

The rule states that for players retiring before the expiry of a contract longer than six years, a portion the cap savings from the deal will count against the team. In the Rangers case, Richards has a $6.66 million cap hit, but majority of the money ($57 million) will be paid in the first six years of the deal, with $3 million coming in the final three years.

Richards is signed until he is 39 years old, but his $1 million annual salary begins during his age-37 season. Now, it is unlikely that Richards would retire at age 37, but it is entirely possible that Richards retires with one or two years remaining on his deal. At this point, the Luongo Rule would kick in, and the Rangers would still have to deal with having a retired player on their payroll.

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NHL, NHLPA agree to tentative CBA to end lockout

Rejoice.

Yay!

Update 1pm: More details are coming in. Check the bolded bullets after the jump.

Update 11:15am: The deal still includes amnesty buyouts. Each team will be allowed two amnesty buyouts. These buyouts can be used before the start of the 2013-2014 or 2014-2015 seasons. There will be no buyouts prior to this season starting. Yes, that means Wade Redden is on the cap this year. This does not negatively affect the Rangers.

Original Post: It finally happened. After months of a pointless lockout that only proved that the fans are the ones that are left in the cold, the owners and players ended this silly argument at 5am this morning. The key word here is “tentative”, but the fact that they are just drawing up the paperwork is a sign of the end. Over the duration of this lockout, we heard about several sticking points that turned out to not be sticking points at all.

The game is back, and perhaps the most important aspect of this is that there will be labor peace for at least ten years, assuming no opt-out is taken. Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh should be lauded as a hero among hockey fans. His first go-round with mediation wasn’t met with much success, but this time around he got significant movement from both sides and was able to play a major role in getting a deal done.

After the jump, we bulleted the major points from the agreement (bolded bullets are updates from original post). Rejoice folks. We have hockey.

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A first look at the 2013-2014 $60 million Rangers

A $60 million cap will be tough to get to with Ryan McDonagh as an RFA.

A $60 million cap will be tough to get to with Ryan McDonagh as an RFA.

As mentioned yesterday, the NHL is very adamant about sticking to a $60 million cap for the 2013-2014 season. This has a lot of the larger market teams worried, as GMs built their clubs for at least a $70 million cap, not a $60 million cap. The Rangers have a total of 16 players (10 forwards, 4 defensemen, 2 goalies) signed for the 2013-2014 campaign, totaling $51.8 million in cap space.

The organization will need to re-sign Michael Del Zotto (prior to this shortened season), Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, and Derek Stepan. All four will be on second year deals –and RFAs– which makes them cheaper to re-sign. Without a second buyout the Rangers would need to get these four, plus one more forward and one more defenseman, and they would have approximately $8.2 million to work with.

If the Rangers proceed with buying out a second player (as discussed yesterday), they will have an extra $1.5 million to work with. For the sake of this post, let’s use the $1.5 million projected with the buyout of Mike Rupp.  Giving it more though, a Rupp buyout may be required at a $60 million cap. That makes seven total players for the Rangers to sign, and approximately $9.7 million to work with.

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Predicting the two amnesty buyouts for the Rangers

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

News broke yesterday that the NHL and the NHLPA had agreed to two amnesty buyouts before the 2013-2014 season. One buyout will be allowed before the start of this season –if it happens– with the second occurring before the start of the 2013-2014 campaign. The owners appear to be dead-set against a cap higher than $60 million for 2013-2014, so multiple teams will need to use both buyouts to get to that number.

The first buyout for the Rangers will have to be Wade Redden. The new CBA will not allow teams to bury bad contracts in the AHL, so Redden’s full $6.5 million cap hit will be on the books. This one is a no-brainer. Redden, much like Scott Gomez in Montreal, will be bought out. That’s the easy one to guess.

The Rangers may need to use that second buyout to stay under that $60 million cap for 2013-2014. Of the players currently signed, the organization will not be looking to buyout either of their goaltenders, Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, or Stu Bickel. These guys are either cheap (Bickel), part of a group that the Rangers need to win (everyone else), or both (Girardi).

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Latest NHL proposal likely the last bullet left in the chamber

This past weekend it was confirmed the NHL submitted a new proposal to the union Thursday afternoon. According to reports, the latest offer is approximately 300 pages and is the most “comprehensive proposal” the league has submitted in months.

While the NHLPA takes the time to review the proposal over the weekend, I would recommend everyone remain cautiously optimistic. I’m sure the union will craft a counter offer, since the rumored drop-dead date to start a 48 game season is January 19th. Meaning an agreement would have to be in place sometime during the 2nd week of January. In other words, the NHLPA has time to squeeze the league for a little bit more.

Below are the key highlights of the proposal and what I think are non-issues and key sticking points.

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