Bruins 'extremely frustrated' by inevitable NHL lockout

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Bruins 'extremely frustrated' by inevitable NHL lockout

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins had the largest contingent of players at the NHLPA meetings in New York City this week. The team felt as a group it was important to be fully educated on everything concerning the CBA labor battle taking place between the league and the players association.

With over 10 hours of meetings behind them during Tyler Seguin proudly proclaimed that he took notes and brought them home to study the Bruins are fully educated and properly aggravated about the situation. All members of the Black and Gold remained hopeful that the season wont get interrupted even if a lockout is imposed at midnight on Sept. 15.

But the Bruins players were also frustrated that the game they love is being taken away from them a fact they faced after participating at another informal practice session at Ristuccia Arena on Friday morning.

Its something nobody really wants to deal with. As players we want to play, but it is what it is. Well have to deal with it, said Gregory Campbell. Its a game that everybody loves. Everybody plays hockey because they love it. The players want to play and the fans want to watch us play.

There are a lot of people not just players that are involved in this business that dont want to see it go away. Its an unfortunate thing that we have to deal with. Its extremely frustrating. This is what we do for a living, but this is also something you enjoy doing.

Put yourself in the players shoes while mulling the issues: the business you work for is raking in record-breaking amounts of revenue and then gives you a choice between taking a 10-20 percent pay cut or getting booted from your job.

Seems like a pretty crappy situation, doesnt it?

That kind of Sophies Choice wasnt exactly giving the Bs skaters warm and fuzzies after realizing over the last few days theres roughly a 1 billion gap between current offers from the NHL and NHLPA. The two sides cant agree on the importance of principles like revenue sharing, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was decrying the cost of jet fuel and massage therapists as reasons why the NHL needs a greater slice of the revenue pie.

Clearly the league is entitled to something much closer to a 5050 split agreed upon by the NBA and the NFL in their most recent CBA negotiations, but the pace of discussions amid seasonal urgency has frustrated the players.

Its unfortunate were in the position that we are right now. More things need to be resolved and settled, said Milan Lucic. Im sure conversations and negotiations will heat up after tomorrow. None of us were really expecting it to get this far. But now its more of a reality. As players were united and were going to stick together and keep going on the course we believe is right.

Theres a sense among the players that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league owners want the lockout, and theyll attempt to bust up the players union once the game checks begin to disappear. Its always worked in the past, but the 283 players that showed up en masse in New York City for NHLPA meetings would seem to speak to their resolve.

We all want to play. We all love hockey. Its our job," said Bs Captain Zdeno Chara. "But we also have to play under certain rules and it has to make sense for us. Well continue to train and skate while keeping ourselves in shape.

The Bruins will take the weekend off from the ice, but will reconvene elsewhere in the Boston area starting next week when they get together for informal practices. Thats because theyll be officially locked out and barred from the ice and locker rooms at their Ristuccia Arena practice facility until Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr can hammer out an agreement.

With the NHL offering something in the neighborhood of a 47 percent share of Hockey Related Revenue and the NHLPA seeking something closer to the 5152 percent neighborhood and each percentage point representing roughly 33 million per season it could still be some time before both sides agree on something close to a 5050 split of the hockey spoils.

In the meantime the Bruins will stick around at least until the end of September, bide their time hoping for a resolution and begin to make alternate plans if the NHL is indeed headed for another nuclear winter. Todays frustration should be nothing compared to what it will be a month from new when the owners, league, fans, players, arena employees and local barsrestaurants begin to feel the sting of the second NHL work stoppage in the last eight years.

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats