NHL owners let yesterday’s self-imposed deadline for a new CBA come and go, refusing to even meet with Donald Fehr and the NHLPA. This comes one week after Gary Bettman apparently stormed out on the players’ counteroffer presentation. The league has begun to permanently cancel games today, possibly including marquee events like the outdoor Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.
In any other year, the news that Russia's Kontinental Hockey League reached a deal with ESPN to broadcast some of this season's games on ESPN3 (the broadcaster's online streaming channel) would be a relatively ho-hum announcement. And in truth, in years past, it has been a ho-hum announcement. Most people, upon hearing of the arrangement, probably didn't know this actually isn't the first time that KHL games will be aired on the ESPN3 feed.
For many of the teenage prospects gathered in Pittsburgh for tonight's NHL draft, the last couple of days have been designed to show off some of the best of what this year's hockey-mad host city has to offer — even if the itinerary clearly hasn't included a stop at Primanti's. Asked on Twitter if he had been to the famed heart-attack-on-a-sandwich joint, goalie prospect Malcolm Subban responded:
@BootsNBrawn not sure where that is but Chipoltle/Qudoba are our spots right now.
Still, there were other local sights and sounds to take in. On Thursday, some of the top-ranked young players held a media availability session not in the standard location — hotel ballrooms, arena bowels — but rather on a boat, where they squinted into the sun as they spoke. And later in the day, they got the chance to take batting practice before a Pirates game at gorgeous PNC Park.
None of them were able to match the homer Sidney Crosby dinged at PNC in the fall of 2010. (USA Under-18 Team's Jacob Trouba came closest.) Nor will they be anywhere close to matching the kind of buzz Crosby received in 2005, the year he was selected by the Penguins. This year's draft class is solid, but it's not at all flashy; if it was a team, it would be more akin to the St. Louis Blues than the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Still, it ought to be an interesting evening. While I'll leave the nitty-gritty, "Here's who the Florida Panthers will take with the 23rd pick" projections to the people who have spent years watching players develop (if you're interested in that sort of thing, I highly recommend you begin by following Corey Pronman on Twitter), here are a few items of note going into tonight's draft.
You don't get to the Frozen Four without having a really good goalie. I haven't been keeping an official count, but I'd estimate that, of all the players and coaches and writers and fans and sports information directors and random guys in elevators who I've spoken to over these last few days, roughly 93 percent of them have at some point uttered a variation on that theme.
And yet for both Ferris State and Boston College, the two teams who will play for the national championship Saturday night, the 2011-12 season began with much uncertainty in net.
Their helmets are simple: silver, and bisected front-to-back by a black-and-white-framed scarlet stripe. It's a scheme that has become eminently recognizable ever since it was debuted in 1968 for the football team at, as the cadence goes, THE Ohio State University. But the nationally ranked team sporting the iconic look this weekend, in a chilly outdoor game against heated rival Michigan in front of tens of thousands, won't be playing the football that Ohio State is famously known for. They'll be playing hockey.