After a couple of tweets with The Program's Chris Wassel yesterday, I got to thinking a bit deeper about the worst case scenario that could result from the deepening rift between the NHL and the NHLPA in the upcoming labor negotiations.
Let's say things continue their downward spiral in Phoenix and one way or the other Jim Ballsillie does not receive a franchise. This leaves Jim with a bruised ego, plenty of money to spend, and a serious desire for revenge against Gary Bettman and the NHL owners.
Ballsillie immediately appeals the initial ruling and files some type of anti-trust action against the NHL. While the case is moving at a snails pace, he decides to start a four team "Make It Seven" type league of his own with teams in Hamilton, Winnipeg, and a couple of other Canadian cities that will begin play next season (2010-2011). He overpays a few free agents (just like the KHL and WHA) and actually gets a product on the ice and makes it through the first season.
By the summer of 2011, the NHL and the NHLPA have stalemated and a lockout looms. Owners have decided not to sign players for a season that is unlikely to happen because they want to take advantage of a new "controlled cost certainty" system that they are willing to risk losing a season for as part of a new agreement.
At this point, the economy has made a turn for the better and credit has loosened. Big Jim sees the opportunity to expand his league and adds eight teams with four more in Canada and teams in New York, Boston, Chicago and Detroit. Many top unsigned NHL players with the urging of their agents, who see fresh money, decide to give it a go in the Jim league since the NHL arenas are dark for another season.
ESPN has been enamored with all the controversy and they never liked Bettman anyway. They pick up a few games in the new league that do better than expected in the ratings and then at mid-season sign a deal with Jim that gives him a few more dollars (American) to play with.
Meanwhile, Bettman, the NHL owners, and the other players are sitting on the sideline wondering what happened.
From here, you can let your own imagination run wild as to the eventual outcome, but I would imagine that Big Jim would own a team in the revamped/merged NHL and would carry a lot of weight in the circle of owners that survived the lockout and anti-trust meltdown/settlement.
In Preds Land...
Jeremy at Section303 helps me out in my rumor starting with his sixth piece in the Making The Case Series, this time about Theo Fleury. For a team that tries to be squeaky clean, he would have to go a long way in convincing the Preds that his trouble is behind him.
Holly Gunning at Hockey's Future has a story about the Predator's goalie pipeline. It will be a real battle in Milwaukee for the starting position this year between Dekanich and Pickard.
Dirk at On The Forecheck (along with everyone I follow on Twitter) has a note today about Patrick Kane assaulting a cabbie in Buffalo at 5:00 in the morning. Kane is not that big of a guy. It must have been a sucker punch.
Around the NHL...
I missed this one the other day but Adam Proteau has his list of the five worst UFA signings this off season. I'm sure I could add a bunch more to the list.
I also missed including this piece yesterday with the timeline of Sid the Kid's day with the Stanley Cup. It looks like the whole town was there in this video. He even plays goalie in a roller hockey game.
A few weeks ago we had the story from Easton, Mass about Freddie the turkey. Tim Rosenthal sent us to a Boston Globe story that shows that Freddy's death is now putting Easton on the map. Freddie is more popular dead than he was alive.
Here's another off topic piece by our buddy AJ in Nashville about the death of John Hughes. AJ is an excellent writer that will draw you in to a story on a topic that you may not be interested in like he did me in this story.
Finally, when you make out your "I want" list, I bet this will be on it. Thanks to @janeqpublic for the link.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass