Haggerty: Is NHL really looking for Cuban's 'fix' in lockout?

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Haggerty: Is NHL really looking for Cuban's 'fix' in lockout?

Lets start by agreeing that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a good, cursory understanding of the NHL lockout and the business reasons behind it.

Cuban, also a Dallas Stars season ticket holder and a legitimate fan of the NHL product, called it a Civil War between the northern hockey franchises turning a tidy profit and the southern Sun Belt teams that have always struggled to thrive in non-traditional markets.

NHL Franchises like Carolina and Tampa Bay have managed to buck that trend to a large degree and been the model of NHL success in the South, but even those teams rarely make money. Franchises in Florida, Phoenix, Dallas and Nashville among several others have endured their share of struggles along the way while losing millions upon millions of dollars. They are the poster children of franchises struggling after the NHL forced them into non-traditional markets.

"When you have all your southern franchises basically sucking wind, there's a message there that you have to fix it. I mean, you have two different worlds; the north and the south. It's kind of like the civil war right now going on, and it's got to be fixed, said Cuban to CSNNE.com. So, yeah I'd cringe more as a hockey fan. I'd cringe more if they don't fix it. Just like the last one, it's only been like seven years right? But I even wrote a blog back then that they should have fixed it, and they didn't."

So how do you fix it? Thats the million dollar question.

Perhaps Cuban should start cringing because the NHL isnt doing nearly enough to solve the problem.

MORE: Cuban: NHL's chance to fix league is now
NBPA's Fisher on NHL lockout: 'Stay together'

When a top-heavy league like the NHL has teams like the Maple Leafs, Canadians, Rangers, Bruins and Blackhawks that need wheel barrels for all the cash theyre taking in, its a business model screaming for revenue sharing.

The Maple Leafs franchise was estimated to be worth 1 billion by Forbes Magazine. Thats more than any single NBA franchise is worth, and the Leafs also were reported to have made well over 100 million on profit last season. Add on top of that a 2 billion TV deal over 10 years that the NHL has signed with the NBC Network.

Its an inexcusably major flaw in the NHLs business model when one learns that the Bettman and Co. have only 11 percent revenue sharing within the leagues business structure. The NBA is considered the NHLs sister league and closest business model, and their system shares 30 percent of revenues between the have and have not franchises.

Thats what sports owners do when theyre interested in preserving the long term health and wellness of their league rather than relying on constant claw backs from the players.

The NFL is in a whole different stratosphere given their TV deal and massive streams of revenue, and they actually share roughly 80 percent of the leagues revenue.

Yet the NHL has seemed extremely disinterested in significantly raising their revenue sharing amounts, and thus far has bumped things up nominally to 200 million in the next proposed CBA. The players wanted at least 275 million in revenue sharing and were pushing for something upwards of 300 million in the next CBA, as well as provisions that would allow a team like the Islanders to qualify for revenue sharing even if theyre considered a big market franchise.

Early in this summers CBA negotiations Bettman called the revenue sharing component a distraction to the rest of the talks. That doesnt exactly sound like a league thats trying to permanently fix a business model Cuban correctly described as sucking wind in noted hockey hotbeds like Sunrise, Florida and Glendale, Arizona.

Instead it would appear these CBA negotiations are simply lining the pockets of the owners already thriving, and tossing a few more throwaway scraps to the poor southern franchises the league is supposedly holding the lockout for in the first place.

Heres a scary thought: the sucking wind NHL franchises are the very ones that will likely fold or relocate if the league ends up canceling the entire 2012-13 season. It seems almost a fait accompli that markets like Quebec City, Seattle and the suburbs of Toronto will be receiving teams in the future, and perhaps this is the final nail in the coffin before franchises like Florida, Phoenix and others move to those more favorable outposts.

Heres another scary thought: unless the NHL fixes these issues by evening out the fiscal landscape with a much larger, more all-encompassing revenue sharing component to the CBA, these problems are still going to be dragging down the NHL eight, nine or ten years from now when the league is back in lockout mode again.

So is the NHL looking for a quick fix and a quick buck or really searching for the needed sutures and gauze to stitch up their business model?

Thats up to everybody to decide, but you can probably guess where this humble hockey writer is leaning toward.

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

BOSTON -- After leaving Friday night’s game with right knee soreness, structural damage has been ruled out regarding Mookie Betts, but he could still be out for a bit.

Testing was done on Betts’ knee, removing any doubt of a deeper issue, revealing it was just build-up of fluid, causing swelling in his knee.

“Day-to-day is the status. It may take a couple for him before he’s back to us.” John Farrell said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation.”

Betts explained that his condition had improved from Friday night, but -- much like Farrell -- doesn’t know how quickly he can bounce back. He wouldn’t make a definitive statement on whether or not he’d be available Sunday.

“It feels pretty good now,” Betts said. “We’re going to do some treatment on it, make sure everything is good and hopefully get back out there.”

Betts joins the list of pivotal players unavailable in Saturday’s game, including Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara who are both on the DL.

Farrell couldn’t commit to a timetable for when he expects Uehara should be back, but hopes he’ll be available during the regular season.

“We’re hopeful of that,” Farrell said when asked if he thought Uehara would be back before the postseason. “There’s no number of day’s that says Koji’s going to put a ball back in his hand . . . To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell.”

Kimbrel, on the other hand, has bounced back well, and is expected to throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday. The hope is that he’ll throw twice off the mound before the trip to the West, which would set him up for a simulated game.

“We need to get some PFP involved -- just some change in direction, fielding the position,” Farrell said on Kimbrel. “But in terms of amount of time missed, and that fact that he’s able to as get aggressive right now in long toss. I would think it would be on the shorter end of appearances if it’s even more than one. He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimate decision medically [he’d] probably say ‘Give me the ball tonight.’ That’s how good he feels -- that’s encouraging.”

 

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

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Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup Saturday after leaving the game Friday night with knee soreness and Brock Holt moves into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox in Game 3 of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

Manager John Farrell said Betts is day-to-day after the right fielder left the Red Sox' 2-1 loss in the fifth inning with pain in his right knee. There is swelling, but an MRI showed no structural damage.Michael Martinez will start in right on Saturday night. Betts had started in 93 of Boston's 94 games this season. 

Aaron Hill gets the start at third base for the Red Sox in place of Travis Shaw.  

Left-hander David Price (9-7, 4.36 ERA) makes his second start of the second half for the Red Sox. Price took the loss in a 3-1 defeat against the Yankees on Sunday night, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innnigs. 

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02) is on the mound for the Twins.

The lineups:

TWINS
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robbie Grossman DH
Miguel Sano 3B
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Kepler RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eddie Rosario LF
Kurt Suzuki C
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Ricky Nolasco RHP

RED SOX
Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF
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David Price LHP