Monday, July 16, 2012

Random Rabble: July 16

Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand penned this week's Monday Morning Quarterback at, filling in for the incomparable Peter King. LeGrand, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury on a kickoff play in 2010, was signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this spring. The Bucs are now coached by LeGrand's college coach, Greg Schiano. LeGrand insists he will walk again, and also addresses the issue of player safety on kickoffs. NFL people have at least discussed the idea of removing kickoffs from the sport.

Take it from someone who has gotten injured on a kickoff: I think kickoffs in the NFL should return to the way they used to be, because lots of football players can make a career out of playing on special teams, and the new system takes some of the thrill and excitement of the game out.

Couldn't agree with LeGrand more. Generally, you'd expect someone like LeGrand -- whose life was forever altered by a chance happening on an admittedly dangerous football play -- to at least be on the fence. Instead, LeGrand acknowledges that what happened to him is not something that happens with any kind of regularity.

He's right. A lot of players can make a career out of special teams, and removing kickoff plays from the game would certainly take some excitement away.

Former UMD star Tim Stapleton signed a deal with Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League last week. Stapleton talked to the Winnipeg Free Press about his decision.

"It wasn't an easy decision. I even woke up today thinking, 'Man, what did I do?' But it's just something that made sense, especially turning 30 (next week). I've got to look out for life after hockey."

Stapleton posted career highs in goals (11) and points (27) and managed to score three game-winners while working predominantly on the Jets' fourth line.

But with a handful of players/prospects in the system ready to grab his spot, this popular and respected teammate was not atop the priority list of an organization that stressed size as one of its key off-season needs.

"It's too bad. I did everything I possibly could because I wanted to come back but I think their main focus was they wanted to get bigger," said Stapleton.

"I've been dealing with this situation (all) my career as far as getting into the NHL. And then when I get in I'm still dealing with it. I sat down with a lot of people, including my family, and we weighed the pros and cons. I had to look at what is in front of me and all I had was Russia.

"I guess now I get to become a fan now and I'll definitely be following the team and all the guys."

Stapleton did indeed have a good season for Winnipeg, but the lack of interest in an undersized forward pushing 30 is not awfully surprising. I figured a lot of guys would be in the same boat, faced with deciding between an offer to play overseas and the prospect of waiting for the CBA negotiations to play out before getting any serious NHL offers.

I don't know what he's making with Minsk, but it's probably more than he'd make on an NHL deal. With Minsk, Stapleton also has the security of knowing there will be a season, something we can't say in the NHL right now.

Speaking of the ongoing NHL CBA negotiations, if the reports from Friday are at all accurate, we'll be here for a while.

According to RDS Insider Renaud Lavoie's Twitter account, the NHL made its initial proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement to the NHLPA in Toronto today:

NHL proposal to players: 1-reduce players hockey related revenues to 46% from 57 %. 2-10 seasons in NHL before being UFA.

3-contracts limites to 5 years 4-no more salary arbitration. 5- entry-level contract 5 years instead of 3.

To Clarify the initial proposal:

1. Right now it's 57-43 in favor of the players. Owners want it to be 54-46 in favor of the owners

2. In the last CBA negotiations during the 2004-05 season elimination, the NHL agreed to accelerating unrestricted free agency from 10 years to age 27 (or 7 years).

3. There are currently no contract limits, which Wild fans learned last week when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were given 13-year deals by Minnesota.

4. There's currently player elected and club elected arbitration

5. Is self-explanatory above.


I tweeted Saturday that the owners should be ashamed of this offer. It's ridiculous. It sends an awfully poor message about where things stand, as well as the chances of the league starting its next season on time.

It's also another sign that ownership wants the players to help save them from themselves. Of course, as we learned in the NBA -- where nearly a third of the season was lost so teams could throw eight-figure salaries at guys like Jeremy Lin -- nothing can save the owners from themselves. They will always find a way to overspend and stretch their resources way too thin.

The only benefit to the players taking this one-sided deal would be getting to watch the owners find a way to keep overspending.

You'll also note in the report that owners want entry-level deals stretched to five years instead of three. Call me crazy, but does anyone else think this would only add to the number of players looking to get away from the teams that drafted them, like Justin Schultz did? You can swallow a three-year commitment to a team you might not want to play for, but five is a ton.

I can see the owners' side on this, because there is a lot of money and time and effort put into the draft, and allowing only three years on the maximum entry-level deal means teams have to spend even more money.

It's totally just a thought, but I'm curious if it is something that could play out. Of course, the CBA negotiation also presents a chance to get rid of the rule that allows drafted players to become free agents, even if the team that drafted the player wants to sign him. If that happens, it doesn't matter what happens to entry-level deals.

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