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NHL players will likely have to pay for lost revenues, commissioner Bettman warns –



NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned players Wednesday they are likely going to have to pay one way or another to make up for the league’s projected lost revenue whenever the 2020-21 season gets underway.

Speaking on a Sports Business Journal panel, Bettman stressed the NHL is not attempting to reopen the collective bargaining agreement some five months after it was extended. Instead, he said, the fiscal realities amid the pandemic mean the 50-50 revenue-sharing split between owners and players will be affected for at least the near future.

And that means players will have to bear the brunt of any shortfall to owners.

The question then becomes, Bettman said, whether it’s in their best interest to pay the money back in the short-term — by deferring a higher percentage of their salaries as the NHL has raised in discussions — or face the potential of having the salary cap stay flat over the remainder of the six-year deal.

“If we have to pay out lots of cash, two-thirds of which is going to come back to us, that may cause some stress,” Bettman said. “And by the same token, if the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could well be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we’re owed.”

When it comes to a flat cap, which would have the potential of restricting future pay increases for players, Bettman said: “[Players] have to ask themselves, ‘Does this make sense?'”

The NHL’s new CBA currently calls for players to defer 10 per cent of their salary for the upcoming season and it puts a cap on how much money will be kept in escrow over the length of the deal.

Without calling it a formal proposal, the league has raised the possibility of having players increase salary deferrals to 20 per cent or 26 per cent and increasing the escrow caps, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is publicly announcing details of negotiations.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Players, agents unhappy with state of talks

Players and several agents have privately grumbled at the developments, and accused the league of attempting to renege on the deal reached in July that led to the resumption of play and the completion of last season.

Bettman refuted the criticism, calling it “unfortunate” and “inaccurate,” and said the agreement at the time was based on collective assumptions that are no longer applicable. The NHL now has to factor in a shortfall in gate revenue because fans aren’t expected to be allowed to attend games, at least initially.

Another issue is the likelihood of a one-time realignment due to cross-border travel restrictions, which will likely result in Canada’s seven teams competing in one division. U.S.-based teams might be required to play in hub cities, as opposed to their own arenas.

WATCH | I was in net for… The Easter Epic:

In episode 6 of our new series, Rob Pizzo speaks to former Washington Capitals goalie Bob Mason about the longest Game 7 in NHL history, and the Pat LaFontaine goal that finally ended it.  5:39

The league is also expected to play a shortened season, which could feature as few as 48 games, such as what happened in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

In an email to The Associated Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “as of right now,” the NHL is still targeting Jan. 1 to start the season, before adding: “That is obviously subject to change.”

It’s becoming increasingly unlikely the NHL will meet that target date. Players have not yet been asked to travel to their home cities. When they do, they will be potentially required to spend up to two weeks in self-quarantine before teams can even be allowed to open training camp.

Another issue are local health regulations. The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, for example, relocated to Arizona this week after Santa Clara County banned contact sports teams from holding games and practices for at least the next three weeks.

The San Jose Sharks are based in the same county.

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Penguins still in 'win-now mode' as search for new GM begins –



It’s not every day a general manager steps down from his position in the NHL, and certainly not just seven games into a season with a 4-2-1 record.

Jim Rutherford’s decision to resign as GM of the Penguins on Wednesday shocked the hockey world. In his seventh season with the team, and after two Stanley Cup wins, the news was sudden and, given the times, concerning.

CEO David Morehouse made it clear on his media availability, though, that the decision was not health-related and happened fast.

“The discussion was last night,” Morehouse said about how long this was in the works. “I had a discussion with Jim, just Jim and I. Jim had his mind made up.

“There was nothing with this team currently or the coaching staff currently configured that is any different than any of the other teams we’ve had…There was nothing different in the form of dialogue. And I don’t think there was any one thing that led to Jim resigning.”

After the 2013-14 season, Rutherford stepped down from his position as Carolina Hurricanes GM and into a retirement that lasted no more than two months before he joined the Penguins.

He arrived at an interesting time, too. Dan Bylsma was relieved as head coach and the Penguins, still led by a similar core to what you see today, were seemingly at a crossroads. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang — all of their stars were still in their prime, but rather than become a New York Islanders-esque dynasty that won Cup after Cup or was at least right there every season, they had won four playoff rounds in the previous five seasons. The furthest they advanced in that time was to the Eastern Conference Final, where the Boston Bruins rolled over them in four games.

Malkin became no stranger to the off-season trade rumour talk. Whether or not the Penguins should take a step back to retool around Crosby was a debated point.

Rutherford, though, doubled down on his star core and began adding. Patric Hornqvist was his first trade acquisition and mid-way through his first season David Perron was picked up from the Edmonton Oilers for a first-round pick. Rutherford made four more trades around deadline season with an eye on playoff depth, the most notable pickup being Ian Cole.

Rutherford’s first playoff run with the Penguins ended with a single win, but they were about to be fully back.

Phil Kessel was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 off-season, and in Pittsburgh, he thrived as a supporting scorer instead of the go-to star. Nick Bonino was next, and mid-way through his second season, Rutherford acquired Carl Hagelin. Suddenly the HBK line (Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel) was in the house. The three finished first, fourth and fifth in team scoring during that 2016 playoff run, and were a key part in the Penguins reclaiming the Stanley Cup.

Then they repeated the next season.

Nuts to the idea of rebuilding a star-heavy team.

As Rutherford departs six-and-a-half years later, the Penguins are interestingly in a similar spot to when he first arrived, though a few years older. They haven’t gotten out of the second round since claiming the 2017 Cup and actually haven’t technically won a game in a playoff round in either of the past two years. They were swept by the Islanders in 2019 and lost in the qualifying round, 3-1, to the Montreal Canadiens in the summer bubble.

Crosby and Letang are 33. Malkin is 34. There isn’t a seemingly endless amount of time left for these players anymore. After next season, Malkin will need a new contract, if he doesn’t test free agency. And if the Penguins are fading from contention again, at this stage, will a move to a new GM spur some sort of re-tool, an adjustment that may result in a step back if it means giving Crosby and Co. a better stretch run?

Don’t count on it.

“We’re not in rebuilding mode,” Morehouse said. “We’re in a win-now mode and we’re going to continue to be in that mode until we’re in a rebuilding mode. We’re looking for someone who can come in and have us continue to work toward winning another Cup.

“The criteria (for a new GM) is the same criteria we’ve had here for the last almost 15 years, is to win the Stanley Cup. We’re looking for someone that’s going to be able to come in, take a very talented team with a very good coaching staff, and take it as far as they can take it.”

Patrik Allvin, who has worked his way up from European scout, to director of European scouting, and to assistant GM with Pittsburgh this season, will carry the interim label and, according to Morehouse, will be one of the candidates considered for the full-time job.

Morehouse did not put a timeline on when the next GM would be hired, but noted he had already taken calls.

With the 2021 Penguins off to a decent start, there are still potential cracks in the foundation. Tristan Jarry has struggled without Matt Murray to share the crease, Malkin is not feeling it yet (three points in seven games) and the offence ranks 22nd in 5-on-5 shots per 60 minutes.

There are the recent playoff shortfalls, the fact the team has made one first-round pick in the past six years. And they already don’t have their own first pick in the 2021 draft.

But there’s also the optimism that comes with having players like Crosby and Malkin on your team, and how Jake Guentzel has developed into a significant producer, or how Bryan Rust has carved out a nice role for himself in the top six.

“We think the team Jim put on the ice is a team that can compete and win,” Morehouse said. “We think our coaching staff is a coaching staff that can get them there.”

Whoever the next GM is will be tasked with the same expectations faced by a Hall of Famer nearly seven years ago, with a younger roster that had more runway. The Penguins rebuild will eventually arrive, but it seems when it does, it won’t be because they chose it.

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Penguins GM Jim Rutherford abruptly resigns for personal reasons – Yahoo Canada Sports



The Canadian Press

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signs extension with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

HAMILTON — There was never a doubt in Jeremiah Masoli’s mind whether he’d be returning to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this season.The veteran quarterback was slated to become a free agent next month but re-signed with Hamilton on Tuesday.”No doubt about it, that (return to Hamilton) was always how I felt,” Masoli said during a telephone interview. “I never felt like there was any pressure or a rush on anything.”Masoli, 32, started Hamilton’s first six games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Backup Dane Evans then guided the Ticats to the Grey Cup game, which the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won 33-12.The CFL didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league is eyeing a return this year with the ’21 Grey Cup slated to be held in Hamilton.”I know myself and my colleagues are definitely feeling that itch to get going and the pain of not being able to be together in the locker room and all the things that go with it,” Masoli said. “Our fans have stuck with us this whole time . . . and to host (Grey Cup) is obviously something special.”Masoli will return for his eighth season in Hamilton. The San Francisco native was the East Division’s outstanding player in 2018 when he threw for 5,209 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions but will report to camp eager for the chance to battle for the No. 1 job.”I think I can speak for most of us. we just want to play,” he said. “I just want to get on the field and have an opportunity to play, an opportunity to compete.”The University of Mississippi product has suited up in 102 career CFL games with 42 starts over seven seasons, all with the Tiger-Cats (2013-19), and sits fourth in franchise history in career completions (1,015), fifth in passing yards (13,110), sixth in pass attempts (1,538), and is tied for sixth in passing touchdowns (70).“It’s exciting to have Jeremiah back for the 2021 season. He is an established natural leader that has a strong work ethic, as demonstrated by the recovery from his knee injury,” Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer said in a statement.STAMPS OL BERGMAN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENTCALGARY — Offensive lineman Shane Bergman announced his retirement Wednesday after a seven-season CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders.Bergman appeared in 93 career regular-season games and 10 playoff games and helped the Stampeders win two Grey Cups.Calgary selected the six-foot-seven native of Teeterville, Ont., in the sixth round of the 2013 CFL draft.After appearing in a single game during his rookie season in 2013, he made 102 starts at left guard over the final six seasons of his career.Bergman earned West Division and CFL all-star honours in 2019, his final season.”The time has come to close this exciting chapter of my life,” Bergman said in a release. “I have been lucky enough make a career playing a sport I love for the last seven years, but all good things must come to an end.”While I did plan to return for the 2020 season, COVID had other plans. However, I have been able to spend the last year at home with my family, watch my son take his first steps, say his first words and so many other milestones.”The Stampeders also announced the signing of defensive lineman Tavaris Barnes.Barnes has 12 games of NFL experience with the New Orleans Saints, and in 2020 he was a teammate of Stampeders linebacker Jameer Thurman with the XFL’s D.C. Defenders.ARGOS, BOMBERS SWING DEALThe Toronto Argonauts have acquired Canadian offensive lineman Cody Speller in a trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.The McMaster University product, who can become a free agent next month, and the Bombers’ sixth-round pick (52nd) overall in 2021 go to Toronto for the Argos’ sixth-round pick (48th overall) this year.Speller, 26, played 13 regular-season games for the Bombers in 2019, starting eight at left guard and all three playoff games at centre. LIONS SIGN THREEThe B.C. Lions have re-signed international receiver Benjamin Plu and added Canadian receivers Jacob Scarfone and Cordell Hastings.Plu, a native of France, played four games for B.C. in 2019 after being selected seventh overall in the inaugural European draft.Scarfone, a University of Guelph product, joins the Lions after playing in 11 games over the past two seasons with Ottawa.Hastings was selected in the fourth round (43rd overall) of last year’s CFL draft out of Acadia University. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press

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Rutherford resigns as Penguins general manager – TSN



Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, a Hockey Hall of Famer who helped lead the team to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, resigned abruptly on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Rutherford cited “personal reasons” in making the decision. He was under contract through the 2021-22 season.

The club promoted assistant general manager Patrick Allvin to serve as general manager on an interim basis while the club searches for a permanent replacement.

Rutherford arrived in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2014 following the team’s second-round flameout against the New York Rangers.

Following an uneven first season in which the Penguins made little headway under head coach Mike Johnston, Rutherford’s rebuild picked up steam in December 2015 when he replaced Johnston with Mike Sullivan and created a roster around stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin built on speed.

The Penguins won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, the first team in a generation to successfully defend its championship. Rutherford’s resignation comes with Pittsburgh off to a solid 4-2-1 start.

“It has been a great honour to serve as general manager of the Penguins, and to hang two more Stanley Cup banners at PPG Paints Arena,” Rutherford said in a statement.

“I have so many people to thank, beginning with the owners, Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, and team president David Morehouse. There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby.”

Morehouse, the Penguins president and CEO, called Rutherford, a journeyman goaltender during his 13-year NHL career before becoming one of the most successful executives of the 21st century “an amazing representative of the Pittsburgh Penguins and he’ll always have a special place in our team’s history, his own legacy.”

The ebullient and relentlessly upbeat Rutherford joined the Hartford Whalers in 1994 and was general manager in 2006 when the franchise — which relocated from Hartford to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1997 and became the Carolina Hurricanes — won its only Stanley Cup in 2006.

Rutherford moved to Pittsburgh in June 2014, tasked with trying to reverse the Penguins’ fortunes. Crosby and Malkin guided the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and 2009, losing to Detroit in ’08 before edging the Red Wings in a rematch the following year. The success, however, faded and the team parted ways with general manager Ray Shero and replaced him with Rutherford.

Early in his tenure Rutherford raised eyebrows by putting a timetable on his involvement. He quickly walked it back, however, and Pittsburgh sprinted to a pair of championships with a group built on speed and grit, much of it developed in the farm system or via trade under Rutherford’s watch. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.

Allvin has been a fixture in the Penguins organization since 2006, beginning as a scout before eventually serving as the director of scouting from 2017-20 before being promoted to assistant general manager last November.

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