Carolina Hurricanes players, staff, and fans are hunkering down to prepare for the worst. After one of the most exciting off-seasons in recent team history, anticipation now turns to dread as an NHL lockout looms in about 10 hours from this post.
On September 13 (which was technically the ides of September for those who know their ancient Roman calendars), NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that all 30 NHL owners unanimously voted to proceed with a lockout at the expiration of the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement at 11:59 pm tonight.
Meanwhile, Carolina Hurricanes players pack up their gear and many prepare for a trip down I-85 to Charlotte.
Following is one fan's attempt to sort through the situation.
As the Lockout Looms
From the League and the Players, a distillation of a few of the week's more informative articles and opinions.
- Bob McKenzie, TSN: By his own description, "3,000+ words on NHL labor that no one will like". Fear, Loathing and 'I can't believe we're doing this again'
- James Mirtle, Globe and Mail: A comprehensive look at the numbers. Measuring the NHL-NHLPA divide: Oh, about $1 billion
- Kevin Allen, USA Today: How to solve NHL Labor dispute (hint: it involves meeting in the middle)
- NHLPA: A Key Gathering - Summary of the week's meetings, along with a list of the 283 players in attendance this week (from the Hurricanes: Brian Boucher, Tim Brent, Jay Harrison, and Anthony Stewart)
- Pierre LeBrun, ESPN: The rules of a lockout (good summary of what happens to players while the lockout is in effect)
6:00 pm UPDATE: Both the NHL and NHL Players Association made statements this afternoon:
- From the NHL: No CBA negotiations scheduled before deadline
"We spoke today and determined that there was no point in convening a formal bargaining session in light of the fact that neither side is in a position to move off of its last proposal," Daly said. "I'm sure we will keep in touch in the coming days and schedule meetings to the extent they might be useful or appropriate. We are sorry for where we are. Not what we hoped or expected."
- From the NHLPA's Steve Fehr (via TSN report):
Steve Fehr, special counsel for the NHLPA, told TSN, "Today we suggested that the parties meet in advance of the owners' self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight. Don Fehr, myself and several players on the Negotiating Committee were in the city and prepared to meet. The NHL said that it saw no purpose in having a formal meeting. There have been and continue to be private, informal discussions between representatives of both sides."
Meanwhile, at 1400 Edwards Mill Road
The Hurricanes placed 11 players on waivers yesterday, all cleared as of noon today. The waiver process was required in order to reassign any waiver-eligible players to the Charlotte Checkers so they can play there during the lockout.
The following players were on the waiver list: Brett Bellemore, Nicolas Blanchard, Zach Boychuk, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Justin Krueger, Justin Peters, Jerome Samson, Bobby Sanguinetti, Brett Sutter, Chris Terry and Tim Wallace.
Here's the full list of all NHL players who went through yesterday's waiver process, courtesy of TSN.
Hurricanes web producer Michael Smith held a Friday afternoon Q&A session on twitter, so check out his timeline. Of interest to season ticket holders, the ticket office will be sending emails over the next few days to clarify policies regarding the lockout and refund optons. Also, the Caniac Carnival will continue as scheduled on September 30, although no players will participate if there is no CBA.
And this just in as of a few minutes ago, the full list of Hurricanes players that have been assigned to Charlotte: Canes Assign 28 Players to Charlotte Checkers. Included in this list: Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Jeremy Welsh, and Zac Dalpe. Defenseman Ryan Murphy has been assigned to the Kitchener Rangers.
- Chip Alexander, News and Observer: Canes pack up gear ahead of possible NHL lockout
- Peter Koutroumpis, Raleigh Examiner: Hurricanes prepare for impending NHL lockout
- For the optimists, a look at what could be, courtesy of Puck Daddy: NHL 2012-13 Campaign Preview: Carolina Hurricanes
With all this free time...
To answer a few of the "so now what do I do" questions:
- Sean McIndoe, perhaps better known as Down Goes Brown, has published a book that is receiving rave reviews (including one from the most trusted source known as HMof2): The Best of Down Goes Brown: Greatest Hits and Brand New Classics-to-Be from Hockey's Most Hilarious Blog (available in both paperback and Kindle editions)
- Another book from another Sean, this one with a more local connection. Sean Mitton, a local resident and creator of the Canadian Expat Network, has released a book about the historic 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia. Read more about the book here (Toronto Sun) and buy it here: The Goal that United Canada (paperback, lulu.com)
- From Puck Daddy: How to explain NHL lockout to your non-hockey friends
- And of course, NHL 13
Finally, on a personal note... I visited RCI on Friday for what would be the final official unofficial pre-camp skate. The mood among Canes fans was tense as we waited for players to take the ice. The skate itself was rather lively; standard drills followed by one of the more uptempo scrimmages I've observed. The play was aggressive and competitive but in a light-hearted manner, as though the players appreciated the time together and were enjoying themselves. After scrimmage broke up, several players abruptly left the ice, others lingered for longer than usual before heading to the locker room to pack up their gear (side note: RCI will continue to be available for players to practice on their own in the coming days, but they will not be allowed to use the Hurricanes locker room or facilities there).
My photos from Friday's skate are in this album, and here's a link to all the off-season to date. It's my hope to have more events to attend and shoot before too long. Best of luck to us all in that regard.