Winter Classic cancelled, NHL's gothic hamster wheel turns unabated


Winter Classic cancelled, NHL's gothic hamster wheel turns unabated

The National Hockey League announced today that because the children keep giving them sass, nobody can go to the fair in January, because there ain't gonna be no fair. And if nobody can go to the fair because the fairgrounds have been closed, you can probably figure spring break is canceled too, and so are all those end-of-school parties.

Which is the properly demeaning of way of saying the league trotted out Vice-Bettman Bill Daly Friday to announce the cancellation of the Winter Classic, the combination All-Star GameOpening Daytrade show that is really none of those things. It is for them merely a season premiere to a show that the owners now dont actually want to stage. And if you dont want to stage a play, you dont really need the actors, or the first act, do you?

By now, though, theres no longer any reason for you to get mad about this new development, or the cancellation of the season that will follow. You all saw it coming, even you blindly optimistic ones. Thats the beauty of a flawlessly executed plan even the collateral damage ends up whistling in admiration.

Because ultimately, thats what this is. A flawlessly executed plan by men who own hockey teams but dont really care all that much whether hockey is actually produced in their factories. And why should you, the collateral damage, care more about something than the people who allegedly are in charge of production? That is a level of insanity that makes even German philosophers blanch.

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And buy me no buts about how much you love the game. Everybody loves the game, or says they do, but when you, the average consumer, says it, it makes you sound like a mark to them. Theyre banking on you still loving it when this little dance is done this summer, because thats how its happened before.

Thats the amazing thing here. This has happened before, in 2004, with all the same steps that led to it. Its not a matter of nobody learning the lessons of 2004. Its a matter of them knowing the steps, enjoying their familiarity, and hitting every one of them in order.

You know what they are. The initial insulting offer, the counter-proposal dismissed out of hand, the exchange of We want to talk but they dont neener-neeners, the army of media policy wonks who haul out power point presentations and create ways that an equitable deal can be forged (while forgetting that an equitable deal is the last thing any of the principals wants), then the wringing of hands, the fake-regretful press releases, the boo-boo-kitty faces and then a resumption the next year to much signing and praise for reasonable men reaching reasonable solutions.

Which of course is just the manure train making its scheduled end-of-the-day stop.

We are here because the high-revenue owners want the players to cover the low-revenue owners shortfalls. We are here because the owners in the middle dont have the stones to organize and challenge the status quo in their own organizations. We are here because we were here before, and will be here again because we are here now. It is a gothic hamster wheel, and everybody spins until the dizziness overcomes them and they need to sit down.

This is how the whole CBA negotiation board game is meant to be played, with a mean-spirited sameness that the outside world should already recognize. This is not and never has been about two sides striking a deal that makes everyone happy, but one side striking the other side with blunt objects until victory through pay garnishment is achieved.

In 2005, when the last CBA was struck, the owners were very happy because the union was left in shards. Then individual owners started figuring out ways to circumvent their own deal, the wealthy and committed ones spent to their capacity by preying on the ones who had no capacity, and the deal collapsed under the added strain. And this deal will too, not long after it is forged this coming summer, for the very same reasons.

And thats the last thing to remember here. Deals fail because owners circumvent them, because greed and the competitive urges of the powerful are always mightier than a handshake and a signature. And well be doing this again in five years, or seven, or nine, depending on how long the principals want to rest up before the next go-round.

And you shouldnt get mad about that one, either, because you should know the book by now. After all, theyve made you read it three times in 18 years, and even you can digest Chaucer in Mandarin if immersed in it repeatedly.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

PITTSBURGH – The primary reason the Sharks made the additions and subtractions they did in the offseason was to match up better against a swift-skating team like Pittsburgh, which won last June’s Stanley Cup Final by playing a game based on speed.

If the first rematch is any indication, even a dramatically shorthanded Penguins team can still get the job done against San Jose.

Despite no Sidney Crosby, no Kris Letang, no Matt Murray, no Conor Sheary, and no third defense pair of Olli Maatta and Derrick Poulliot for the third period, the Penguins stormed from behind to give the Sharks a 3-2 loss on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. All of the Penguins’ goals came in the third period after they trailed 2-0 to start the final frame.

For the second time in four games on their road trip, the Sharks controlled play through two periods. That was enough against lowly Columbus last Saturday, but not against the Penguins, who got goals from Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist in span of eight minutes and 15 seconds in the third.

“Let them hang around a little bit, which is something we’ve done lately,” Pete DeBoer said. “Had some opportunities to extend it, and didn’t. Probably deserved to be up by more, but we weren’t. That’s what happens.”

San Jose got goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the second period, a period that saw them outshoot the Penguins, 17-4. Shots were 27-10 overall through 40 minutes.

They started well in the third, too, when Mikkel Boedker drew a trip on Malkin at 4:10. Just after the ensuing power play had expired, Boedker was staring at a wide open net after slick seam pass from Joonas Donskoi, but fired wide.

Malkin scored 30 seconds later, and the comeback was on.

“Just missed it. It’s a tough shot when it comes from the other way, but [Donskoi] made a good pass,” Boedker said. “It’s one of those you want to put in, and when things are going the right way, they come in bunches. … Obviously it sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

After Malkin’s goal, and another by Wilson tied it, the Sharks took a pair of minor penalties. Paul Martin was called for a delay of game that was killed off, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash on Bryan Rust resulted in Hornqvist’s winner with less than six minutes to go in regulation.

Joe Pavelski didn’t seem to like either call, indicating that Martin’s errant clearing attempt hit a Penguins stick on its way out, and the Vlasic slash late a tie game is a call “that you don’t always see.”

Hornqvist got a couple fortunate bounces on his goal, too. He took control of the puck in front of the net after it hit Joel Ward’s foot, and his shot attempt deflected in off of Martin’s skate.

“They got a bounce or two more, but the position we were in, it shouldn’t matter how many bounces they get,” Pavelski said. “We’ve got to seal that game.”

The captain expressed disappointment over the fact that the Sharks squandered a chance to move to 4-1-0 on the season, which would be an accomplishment considering their early peripatetic schedule in which they played just one home game before traveling east.

That outweighed any sort of revenge factor that might have been on the minds of the players that were defeated by Pittsburgh in the Final last spring.

“The biggest thing is we were playing for a 4-1 record going into that third [period]. Not because it was the Penguins,” Pavelski said. “It’s early in the year and it’s not easy to start coming on the road with all these games. Now we’re staring at 3-2, and we move on. It would have been nice to beat them, for sure, but the best thing would have been for that record.”

The Sharks can still conclude their five-game trip with a winning mark by beating Detroit on Saturday.

DeBoer said: “We’re not going to overreact. We played very good hockey for large amounts of this game. Learn from it, and move forward.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins


PITTSBURGH – It wasn’t the Stanley Cup Final, but it was a disappointing defeat for the Sharks against the Penguins nonetheless, as Pittsburgh stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to stun San Jose, 3-2.

The game-winner came from Patric Hornqvist. On a Pittsburgh power play, he found a loose puck and swiped it in off of Paul Martin's skate with 5:58 left in regulation.

The Penguins trailed 2-0 to start the third, but Evgeni Malkin got them on the board. After the Sharks were caught scrambling in front of their own net, Malkin took control of the disc in the high slot. He spun around and flicked it through Martin Jones at 6:47.

A little more than two minutes later, Hornqvist drilled Brenden Dillon on the corner, jarring the puck loose from the wall. Scott Wilson grabbed it, swooped towards the crease and slipped it though at 9:01 to knot the game at 2-2.

The Sharks (3-2-0) fell to 2-2 on their five-game road trip, which concludes with their final visit to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Saturday.

San Jose scored twice in a dominant second period in which it outshot Pittsburgh, 17-4.

Tomas Hertl’s second goal in as many games opened the scoring. He got to the front of the net and poked in a Joe Pavelski rebound at 5:04 after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost control of his stick while making a save on Brent Burns moments earlier.

Patrick Marleau created the second goal at 16:15, stripping Chris Kunitz of the puck at the blue line and finishing off a give-and-go with Logan Couture for his second of the year.

Prior to Marleau’s marker, the Penguins had a power play goal waved off. On a power play, Phil Kessel directed a rebound towards the net, and it rattled around off of the post and Jones’ left pad. Hornqvist directed it in, but a video review showed it illegally went in off of his glove and not his stick with 6:41 left in the period.

San Jose was 28-0-2 last season when leading after two periods, and 9-0 in the playoffs.

Special teams

The Sharks allowed one power play goal in five Penguins advantages, and were 0-for-3 on the power play.

Mikkel Boedker had a chance to essentially seal the win on a third period advantage for the Sharks, but couldn’t bury a Joonas Donskoi pass into an empty net. Malkin brought the Penguins back to within a goal moments later.

San Jose killed off a Martin delay of game penalty at 10:17 of the third to keep it 2-2, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic's slash led to Hornqvists's goal.

In goal

Jones fell to 2-2 on the season with three goals allowed on 20 shots.

Marc-Andre Fleury got the win with 32 saves. Starter Matt Murray remains out with a hand injury.


Pittsburgh was down to four defensemen by the end of the game, as Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot were forced from action in the second period.

The Penguins were without several key pieces to start the game, including Murray, best defenseman Kris Letang, and the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby.

Matt Nieto returned to the lineup in place of Micheal Haley on the fourth line. Nieto was a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Islanders.

Up next

After Saturday’s game in Detroit, the Sharks finally play their second game at SAP Center on Tuesday, Oct. 25 against Anaheim in the first of a three-game homestand. Columbus and Nashville also visit.