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


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.

Rask given maintenance day as Bruins return to practice

Rask given maintenance day as Bruins return to practice

BRIGHTON -- The Bruns got back to work on Friday, but were without their No. 1 goaltender for practice at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of their biggest game of the season Saturday night against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center 

Tuukka Rask was given a maintenance day after playing three games in four days, and Matt Beleskey was also missing “on family leave." The off-day for Rask could have very well about getting away from the rink mentally as it was physically; he has a 3-6-0 record during the month of March. 

Interim coach Bruce Cassidy said after practice that he wouldn’t be making a decision on his starting goalie in Brooklyn until Saturday, but it would be stunning if Rask didn't play.

“We’ll see how things clear up . . . and see where we’re at,” said Cassidy of any Bruins lineup changes against the Isles. “We’ll know by then. [The starting goalie] will be determined tomorrow. I don’t want to get out in front of it, to be honest with you.”

Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Friday’s practice, with Cassidy uncertain of any changes he might make between now and Saturday night: 
C. Miller-K. Miller

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem for Yanks' Cashman

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem for Yanks' Cashman

The dearth of homegrown starting pitching for the Red Sox is talked about almost as much as every Tom Brady post on Instagram.

Red Sox fans may take some solace in knowing their team isn’t the only one dealing with this problem.

In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t talk about his team’s pitching problems in context of the Red Sox. But the explanation the longtime Yanks boss offered should sound familiar. 

In the biggest of markets, time to develop properly is scarce.

“Yeah. It's a fact,” Cashman said when asked if criticism of their pitching development was fair. “I think part of the process has been certainly where we draft. Because we've had a lot of success, we've not been allowed to tank and go off the board and therefore get access to some of the high-end stuff that plays out to be impactful. Part of it is we can't get out of our own way because we don't have the patience to let guys finish off their development, because if you possess some unique ability that stands out above everybody else -- whether it was Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, now [Luis] Severino and before that [Bryan] Mitchell and Shane Greene -- we're pulling them up before their development is finished.

“Teams like Tampa Bay, for instance, they're going to wait until they have their four pitches down and their innings limits are all exceeded at the minor-league level; they're very disciplined in that approach as they finish off their starters. For us, if I'm looking at my owner and he says, ‘What's our best team we can take north?’ 

“Well, ‘We could take this guy; he's not necessarily 100 percent finished off, but we can stick him in our 'pen. He can be in the back end of our rotation, because he's better than some of the guys we already have,’ and then you cut corners, so I think that probably plays a role in it.”

Not everything is circumstantial, though -- or a deflection. 

“And sometimes we don't make the right decisions, either, when we're making draft selections and signings and stuff like that,” Cashman continued. “On top of it all, playing in New York is a lot different than playing anywhere else.”

We’ve heard that last part about Boston too, here and there.

Cashman was complimentary of his current Sox counterpart, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose team Cashman has compared to the Golden State Warriors.

On his feelings when he first heard the Sox were getting Chris Sale:

“When that trade was consummated, that was the first thing I thought about, which was, 'Wow, look at what they've done,' ” Cashman said. “I know how it's going to play out for them. Listen, Steve Kerr does a great job managing that team -- oh, I mean John Farrell. It's a lot of talent and with talent comes pressure to perform. I think Dave Dombrowski has done everything he possibly can to provide that city with a world championship team. They've got 162 games to show it.”