Blues chat with Jeremy Rutherford

Bring your Blues and NHL questions and comments, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Jeremy Rutherford.

by Mike Smithon Oct 9, 2012 at 6:16 PM

  • Good day to everyone on what would be the Blues' season opener in Denver. We wish there was more progress on the CBA talks, but there's not. Thanks for tuning in and hopefully I can get to everyone's questions today.
  • JR, it seems to me that the players absolutely abhor Bettman, even more than the fans do. It also seems to me that the one thing they can't/won't accept is losing to Bettman again with the way he's shoved things down their throats and the way he's been a smug jerk to them for years and IMO, there is just way too much contentiousness in the air for a deal to get done anytime soon and I think we're now going to lose the entire season. In your opinion, do you think that negotiations would be more productive if Bettman was out of the picture and the NHL was being represented by Daly for example?
  • I agree with you in that there's great disdain for Bettman among players. But that shouldn't be a surprise. This is the second time in eight years that he's tried to rollback their salaries. Yes, they would love to see Bettman lose his job and perhaps they are taking a harder stance so that the lockout lingers and eventually that happens. But I don't think it will and neither do many people who say they're on the players' side. It's a very remote possibility. Could the negotiations get done sooner with someone else in charge of the league? Doubtful. The owners have their priorities in these CBA talks and Bettman/Daly are leading the charge.
  • JR: To preserve our sanity and reduce anger, at what point do you think we should just bag it as far as expecting to see the Blues ply in 2012-13?
  • A lot of people are pessimistic right now that there will be hockey in 2012-13. But I would hang on until at least December. A season could still be salvaged if they were able to get a deal done by then. But after December, which also means after the Winter Classic has been canceled, then you can say good-bye to this season.
  • JR, why the heck did the owners change the by-laws years ago to give Bettman so much power in which Bettman only needs support from 1/4 of the owners and they also gave him the power to fine them and other league officials up to $1M. Why the heck did the owners let Bettman basically make himself dictator?
  • I am familiar with the current by-laws regarding Bettman's ability to stay in power, but I'm not familiar with how that came to be. I would need to have a conversation with an NHL to see how these provisions were changed and what the thinking was at the time. As far as the fine to owners who speak publicly about the CBA, I actually understand it. You don't want the message being delivered from 30 different people. Unfortunately for the the NHL, I believe that some of these owners could have delivered their message better than Bettman. I realize the players have hundreds of voices in this matter, but honestly they're all beating the same drum and it's not difficult to get off that course and say something out of line. You look at a guy like Krys Barch who vented on Twitter, and the public response to that was here's a guy speaking from his heart. You would not get that response from an owner Tweeting the NHL's agenda.
  • How is it in football a guy like RG III can have a concussion on Sunday and be back on the field by Thursday yet in Hockey they are out for a month and at some point even an entire season. Something doesnt seem right
  • I've been asking this question for a couple of years now. I don't understand it myself. Obviously these two sports have the most contact of any professional sports, and for some reason hockey concussions seem to be longer lasting. Could it be the helmets? I don't think so. A concussion is a concussion. No one seems to be able to answer this question.
  • I have to admit, at this point, even if there is a season, I am locking myself out of hockey. I will not give a dime of my money to the players or owners at this point. I hope others around the league feel the same way.
  • A lot of people feel this way. I was not covering the Blues during the last lockout, but today I had lunch with a member of the Blues' organization that was around for the last one. He said today that fans are treating this lockout much different. Before, they didn't know what to expect and figured that while both sides might have been being greedy, there was still stuff that needed to be fixed with the game and that was the cause of the problems. This time, there are a lot of fans who are just fed up and don't care about any excuses. There is real concern about the fans coming back.
  • Part 2. (I hit enter thinking it would give me a new paragraph, and it submitted my original thought. By some stretch of the imagination, if there is a shortened season, will that make someone like Arnott more attractive? Granted, not the Blues, but an aging vet who only has to play half a season might be good for a team like Winnipeg.
  • I suppose there could be interest in players like Arnott, but you can also look at it from the other side of the coin: at what point do guys like Arnott say, "enough, I'm done." Players really need to stay in shape during this thing. A guy like Arnott has always stayed in shape, so you don't worry about him. But at some point, when do the aging veterans say, "that's it."
  • So, Jeremy, what's keeping YOU busy?
  • Well, it has been pretty slow for me. I was just thinking this morning that if not for the lockout, I'd be writing a Morning Skate blog right now, based on this morning's practice in Denver. One thing keeping me busy is the book I'm writing: "100 Things Blues Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die." The book is due out in late 2013. It takes a lot of time to do something like this. Fortunately, I've got some time, but I'd rather be at the rink right now.
  • Have you watched any of the KHL on ESPN? What are your thoughts? Seems a lot less physical.
  • I watched a little bit of Dynamo and Lev. I really wanted to like it, but I thought it was hard to watch. Certainly less physical. Perhaps there was a lot of creativity during the parts of the game I missed, but I didn't see anything that would bring me back if I were a casual fan. It will be fun to watch Jori Lehtera and Vlad Tarasenko, but unless you have something drawing you to it, I'm not sure folks are going to mark their calendars.
  • Going to an AHL game this Saturday. Looking forward to seeing Hockey for $10 a ticket. My center ice subscription will pay for a number of games this year.
  • Have fun. I hope to make way to Peoria sometime soon, too. Lots of good guys, good stories to cover and there are few things better than watching a guy who will be in the NHL (soon for some of them) and saying, 'I remember watching them when they were 20, 21, 22.'
  • Regarding concussions in regards to football vs. hockey, I think the difference in how quickly players return after suffering one comes down to two things. 1. hockey is a much faster sport (you can skate a lot faster than you can run) so when a bad hit to the head happens, natual physics suggests the damage is going to be worse in the hockey hit than the football hit. 2. I think that even though the NFL is finally starting to take concussions seriously, I still think the NHL teams are MUCH more cautious when it comes to the players fully recovring before returning to play. There still seems to be a very "macho" image both leagues are trying to maintain to where you play through injuries but the NHL seems to be making the exception for brain injuries whereas it's still fairly expected for a football player to return right away, even if they probably shouldn't...and thus why you see so many football players with devistating brain conditions later in life. Not that hockey doesn't have plenty of former players with brain issues as well but it seems like almost every former NFLer has fairly severe brain damage.
  • I do think the NHL has been more cautious with concussions and perhaps the NFL guys are adhering to the macho image. BUT, the bottom line is Aaron Rodgers and others are returning one week later and PERFORMING. David Perron couldn't play hockey for over a year. Sidney Crosby could't play hockey. And while it may be true that hockey is faster than any other sport, some of these hits in hockey that lead to long-term hockey are not happening in speed situations, and you can't tell me that they are more physical than an NFL quarterback having his block knocked off by a 6-5, 280-pound defensive end. So there are differences, yes, and some may lead to the return time of SOME players, but to me you can't generalize or make a blanket statement.
  • JR,

    Thanks for doing these chats. Have you heard what the NHL/NHLPA have discussed during the recent negotiations of the last few days? I know "non-core economic issues", but do you know if any progress has been made on any supplimental issues etc? Also just wanted to comment that being a STH still some of my personal 'hockey relatedfunds' have gone elsewhere, namely the Rams and Cards...and I'm not even that big of a football fan! I kept my ST because I believe/assume that Stillman is part of a group of owners that do not want this lockout but given the likes of Jeremy Jacobs etc there isn't much he can do about it.
  • There are many non-economic issues that are being addressed - too many to list here and honestly...since I'm not in New York or Toronto covering the meetings I'm not familiar with all of them. The sides issues are important and need to be negotiated in order to reach a CBA, but I think more of the focus right now is on the fact that thesides aren't even negotiating the core issues, and that's because both the league and the union feel there is no reason to talk about them due to the fact that neither side is budging.
  • JR, do you think what the NHL keeps proposing even benefits small and mid-market owners like Stillman? IMO, the NHLs proposals benefit all owners in the short-term but only benefit the big owners (ie. the ones who seem to have the only voice that matters to Bettman) in the long-term. With the way they keep structuring their proposals, I see no way for small and mid-market teams to continue to stay competative and make a profit long-term. The way I see it, guys like Jacobs and Snyder are getting away with bullying most of the other owners.
  • I can assure you that many of the mid- and small-market teams want the league to continue to battle the NHLPA. I understand that the notion that the big markets have Bettman's ear and are running the show here, but that's not entirely true. The league's proposal calls for a reduction in the salary cap, which would also lower the floor.That would help the smaller markets. That's just one thing that comes to mind. Perhaps Jeremy Jacobs and Ed Snyder have a big voice, but the league isn't going to make a deal that only benefits some teams.
  • OK, last call for questions today. The lockout has zapped the energy from fans, which is very understandable. In fact, we may take a break from the chats for a few weeks until there's some movement in the lockout. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, anything you want to throw out now, I've got a couple of more minutes.
  • How much of a negative impact do you feel this lockout will have on the Blues?
  • Without getting into the outcome of the CBA negotiations, which could have a big impact, the simple loss of hockey after a terrific season will make a big dent in the Blues' progress. I've already heard from many folks who are moving on. Sure, many will change their minds. But I do sense a feeling among people I talk to that they were fooled once and it's not going to happen again. That's tough to swallow because I think the new ownership group has good plans for the organization and, given a chance, could really help this team grow. But before that happens, before they even sit down to watch their first game as owners of the club, hockey is taking a huge step back.
  • Last time, we knew the Blues were in flux going into the lockout. This time they seemed to be on a roll. Which is worse?
  • This is a lot worse. First all of all, as I mentioned before, people realized that the NHL needed re-tooling and so the lockout may have been semi-understandable. Secondly because the Blues were going through an ownership change/roster dismantling, fans weren't paying attention to the sport anyway. But now, after a year like last year, coming off sellout crowds and fans wondering how the team would followup its success, this lockout is much more critical.
  • That'll do it for today. I really do appreciate the readers who keep coming back week after week regardless of the lockout. I'll keep you posted on future chats. Thanks!
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