|03-27-2005, 03:37 PM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
NHL cancels June entry draft in Ottawa
Posted: 1 day ago
NEW YORK (AP) - First, the All-Star game was called off. Then, the entire hockey season was wiped out.
The NHL completed the lockout hat trick Thursday when it canceled the June draft.
So, Canadian phenom Sidney Crosby - projected to be the likely No. 1 pick - remains in limbo.
"I'm disappointed," the 17-year-old junior star said. "Although I knew this could be a possibility, given the current situation, I feel bad for all of the players who worked so hard to get to this point."
The annual event was scheduled for June 25-26 in Ottawa, but it was scrapped along with the entire 2004-05 season that was obliterated on Feb. 16. The draft can't proceed without a collective bargaining agreement.
It was another blow for the NHL, which wanted to have a new labor deal with the players' association in time to hold the draft on schedule. The league, which imposed the lockout Sept. 16, quickly initiated talks with the union just a few weeks after the season was lost.
But there is still no deal.
"The timing is very, very important because the sooner we make a deal, the sooner we can all put this labor dispute behind us and start working toward the future," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly told The Associated Press.
Daly apologized to fans, the city of Ottawa and "to everyone who already had put so much time and effort into creating a memorable weekend for the players and their families."
"The Ottawa area hotels had already gone far beyond their normal reservation policies in allowing us to hold 4,500 rooms for the draft event," Daly said. "They weren't prepared to extend that longer."
Now Crosby will be keeping his attention squarely focused on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs for the time being.
"All of us had been looking forward to having our names called in Ottawa," the forward said. "Unfortunately, this is something that is out of our control."
As is how the draft order will shake out.
Daly said there already has been considerable discussion about how teams will pick. If a collective bargaining agreement is reached soon, a live draft could still be held.
Regardless of when the lockout ends, a draft will then take place and could be conducted by a simple conference call among the 30 teams.
"I can't imagine the NHL doing a draft over the phone with their first round," Crosby's agent Pat Brisson told the AP.
Usually, the draft order is set based on the previous season's standings, but that is not possible this year.
Washington won last year's draft lottery, after finishing with the league's second-worst record, and grabbed Russian sensation Alexander Ovechkin with the No. 1 pick. The Capitals would love the chance to go first again and add Crosby to a lineup that would be markedly improved since the last time they took the ice nearly a year ago.
"I know at one point there will be a draft," Brisson said. "We'll explore our options at the end of the season and see where we're at."
Similar to the city of Atlanta, which lost the chance to host this year's All-Star game, it is unknown when Ottawa will be able to hold the draft. The NHL said the league is committed to bringing the event back there as soon as possible.
The earliest Atlanta can host the All-Star festivities is 2008 since the sites for the next two years have been assigned.
The NHL made two labor proposals to the players' association last week. One contained a system in which player salaries are linked to league revenues and the other didn't.
The union did not seem impressed, but it didn't reject the offers right away. Instead, the players' association held a three-day meeting, that concluded Thursday night, and might come back with a counterproposal. The players' association is expected to get in touch with the league soon to respond to last week's offers.
The NHL told the union that if it wanted to pursue a "de-linked" system, those negotiations would have to be held quickly. The draft was one deadline the league hoped to beat, but that wasn't possible.
NHL general managers are to meet in Detroit on April 7-8 to further discuss rules changes the league hopes will spice up the game and draw back fans already angry a full hockey year was lost.
Then the league's board of governors will meet April 20 to discuss next season. The NHL said it is committed to playing hockey next season, with or without a labor agreement. The use of replacement players already has been discussed.