The NHL’s CBA and You: What To Consider Regarding the New NHL CBA

It’s hard to believe that we are already eight years removed from the infamous season long NHL lockout of 2004-05, but alas, the groundbreaking (yet rather one-sided) agreement that was the former CBA is set to expire in September. The issues are largely thought to not be as monumental and controversial as the issues which plagued business viability and even popularity of the NHL almost a decade ago. The results of the past CBA speak for themselves. Popularity and business are up. The game itself opened up thanks to favorable rule changes. The salary cap and floor have attempted to assure that each team has somewhat of a chance to compete.

The NHL and owners have taken the first step in the process, making the first proposals to changes to the CBA.

While the proposal itself is implausible, it does highlight a few problem areas within the game that need to be address.

1. Reduction of Player cut of Revenue from 57% to 46% – this is just a starting point, and I think both sides know this. I guess the League feels like the best approach is to try to sell the agreement like they would a used car? I fully expect the players to scoff at this figure an submit a more reasonable number. I’ll expect the agreement to be around around 50%. With the rise in salaries around the league and the owners providing the actual circumstance for any player to be paid a nice salary, I feel that this may be a concession the players can afford to make.

2. 10 Seasons Played in NHL Before Being Eligible for UFA Status – A three year increase, which apparently removes entirely the age restriction of 27. I don’t know how much the players will budge on this, MAYBE add one year, and maintain some sort of age requirement. For instance, goalies don’t usually make it until around 24 or 25 years old. With the new rules, they would be a restricted free agent until 34, which in most cases is when the decline occurs for an average goaltender. A 10 year minimum would greatly hamper the earning potential of their careers! I expect 8 years and maintaining some sort of age requirement for UFA eligibility.

3. Contract Limit to 5 Years – This would be a welcome provision, but of course, not likely strongly welcomed by the players’ side. There are A LOT of questionable contracts in the NHL right now, and it would only get worse, especially if this offseason sets the precedent. Parise and Suter with 9 year deals. Luongo, an albatross of a contract, making him nearly unable to be dealt. In fact, the only player’s name you have to mention when talking about the absurdity of these long term deals is Rick DiPietro.  The only place you see this kind of job security is in sports and on university campuses with so-called tenured professors.

4. Elimination of Salary Arbitration – I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, if you exceed expectations, especially if you had a lower paying contracted, you should be compensated accordingly. On the other hand, however, you did agree to the terms. Why not have an incentives package? Or why not suck it up and continue to improve as a player for the big payday? I know the players’ side argument (as it is in any sport) will be the uncertainty of injury. That you have to get the money today that you may not get tomorrow. A fair argument. The players will never agree to this, and I’m not sure if there is a middle ground. Perhaps increasing revenue another percentage point or two?

5. Entry level deals are 5 years instead of 3 – This point could also be another nonstarter for the player’s side. Currently, a draftee is signed to a 3 year contract, with the max yearly salary being 975K. After that period, you earn your big money. Adding 2 more years, while ensuring the retention of a fan favorite for those years, could also prove detrimental to drafting players abroad, especially in Russia where the KHL throws big money around. The Lightning’s fan blog, Raw Charge, uses our most recent 1st round draft pick, Andrei Vasilevskiy, as a great example. Assuming he develops in juniors the next two years, why on earth would he play for 1M a year for 5 years?

An additional issue that I haven’t heard too much talk about is the botched realignment that occurred last winter. Perhaps those details are to be hammered out as well?

These issues, depending on how the NHLPA decides to react or play ball with the owners, coud be easy to iron out, or they could result in another lock out. The sides are due to continue discussions later this week.

 

 

Return of the… Heapmaster?

I really can’t believe it has been SIX months since I have last written on here. It’s something that I have missed, to some extent, but haven’t really been able to motivate myself to just finally get on here and write about anything and everything that has been going on. Of course, my primary laptop breaking didn’t help things, as well as my Motorola Xoom being a tough cookie to blog on, it being without a physical keyboard. (Of which they now have a keyboard case which I will buy soon! But the Xoom is for another entry)

Nevertheless, I should never abandon this outlet for this long again. I will spare you the usual spiel regarding my absence, and the resulting promise of renewed interest and dedication to the cause. We both know that for whatever reason, I could be having the time of my life writing, and I will just randomly… stop.

However, I am back for now!

The Heap will continue being a trusted source of reviews of all sorts. I’d like to (again) try to incorporate more music into the blog. So I will hopefully be laying out some reviews of albums I purchase, rants for or against songs or artists, or perhaps just some cool entries about shows I get to go to.

I will also have a segment called Wilfred Weekly, in which I will discuss the week’s episode of FX’s new comedy, Wilfred. If you haven’t checked it out, they are only two episodes in, and I highly recommend it. (This is coming from someone who seldom watches TV for anything other than sports or horrible movies that USA and TBS are playing on the weekends)

I’ll also have a nice life update a la Trashman Chronicles, since I haven’t given one in a while, for all of you friends abroad.

And no, The Beer Corner is not going anywhere! However, the newest edition of The Recycling Project might limit entries, as I prepare to lose some serious weight.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Rant: The Game is NOT in US

The United States’ tagline for their presentation to the FIFA committee in their attempt to secure either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup was: The Game Is In US. This, of course, is a clever usage of our country’s initials to strongly demonstrate the United States’ ability to host the premier sports event in the world. It suggests that the game is part of our livelihood (though the general popularity of soccer lags). It suggests that we have the “game” in us, a nice sports euphemism for confidence to host perhaps the greatest and most profitable world cup in history.

But alas, the FIFA committee would rather have money lining their pockets now than in 12 years. They cared very little whether the game was in the US, Austrialia, Japan, or anyone else (not including Russia, who will host in 2018, congratulations to them). Rather, they cared about their pockets.

The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar. Yes, you read that right.

Qatar.

This will be FIFA’s first venture into the Middle East, and that makes for a great story, but Qatar? A country that is a bit smaller than Connecticut? A country with a population that just eclipsed 1 million at the end of this decade?

The US said it could sell over 5 million seats if it hosted the World Cup. 5 times the population of Qatar.

And if you thought the chilly nights in South Africa were interesting, Qatar boasts an average high of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe add a few to the average since the Earth is getting hotter and we’ll be getting close to 120 F in no time. And if you look at the map, you see it is next to water. It’s going to be a muggy 115 F.

Either way, this decision has convinced me that FIFA just may be the most corrupt sports organization in the world, and that’s including Italian soccer.

Are all games going to take place at like a youth league soccer complex? Are they really going to have 7 different stadiums in such a small space? Are they going to play on dirt? How could they say no to Morgan Freeman?

I just don’t understand. At least traveling to different games will be easy, right? If you don’t pass out from dehydration.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Good Stuff: Welcome, December!

I just needed to give an official welcome to December! Look at that weather forecast! I think we can finally wave goodbye to sweat-inducing afternoons and evenings and finally look forward to sweater weather. I don’t think it can get any better than that. No rain in the forecast, and highs in the comfortable 70s! I can live with lows of 40 for a few days… as long as the afternoons are crisp and beautiful!

Aside from the weather, with December comes Christmas and New Years. Of course, it’s always great to get a few days off of work, but I am looking forward to just being with everyone. Friends will be in town and we will go out. Then there’s shopping, cooking and eating! And let’s not forget seasonal beers! (I will be picking up a strictly seasonal six pack this weekend for future Beer Corners!)

But alas, December has only become so special for me only as recent as last year, when I started falling for the most incredible person in the world, my best friend and future wife. So of course, we’ll always have our special time in December when we fell in love and she came to surprise me, and our first date!

So as 2010 winds down, we’ll keep the writing momentum going here at The Heap. We’ll keep the tweeting, and we’ll keep living life and enjoying every little aspect.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Little Off The Top: Return to Sender?

offtoplogo.jpg picture by jmooser

Tennessee woman returns adopted Russian kid back to Motherland

Yes, you read correctly.

An American woman sent back an “unruly and violent” Russian orphan back to Russia after the family decided that it was in fact dangerous to house the child because of threats of violence and graphic, gruesome pictures he drew, which included a burning house with the family inside. According to the story I read, it wasn’t even the adopted mother who sent him off at the airport! Good ole grandma had to do it!



It appears that this family might have started an international firestorm, as Medvedev and the Russian foreign minister were “furious” and the actions were considered “the last straw.” So, until further notice, or at least until a full investigation is conducted, you cannot adopt Russian orphans- just in case that was on your “To-Do” list in the next month or so. At least we were able to come to some sort of diplomatic resolution with the Russians regarding a slight nuclear disarmament… who knows what might have happened.

So, we’re good about the nukes, right? Ok well, I’d like to make a return… what’s your policy on that?

In all seriousness, I feel that this story brings two issues up for discussion. The first is the actual ability to return a child to an orphanage, let alone to their original country, if the arrangements don’t go… as planned. I can assure you there are PLENTY of moments where our own parents may have thought the same thing… I’ve heard it a lot. But it’s all in good fun, usually. It’s part of the developing familial dynamics that go along with raising kids. But didn’t you make the same choice that mothers made, to bring/take a kid in this world?

I know their defense is “safety” and perhaps they indeed weren’t fit for the situation. Indeed, being a foster/adopted parent is a tough calling, and certainly a responsibility which isn’t celebrated enough. Should adopted parent have the right to do this? I mean, it’s a kid, right? It’s not like you went down to the humane society, pick out a great dane to live in your one room 50 square foot apartment and then return it because you can’t handle the responsibility. I assume that there is an extensive interview and screening process for international adoptions. And well, I’d also have to assume that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, so I’d hope there is some sort of return policy if the parents see that they cannot handle the responsibilities.

Should be required viewing for anyone thinking of adopting/having children

All in all, I can see both sides of the argument here, but you can decisively conclude that the family definitely handled the situation incorrectly. They should face neglect charges since they are the legal guardians of the child, just like my parents would have faced sending me on an airplane by myself at the age of 7! As to the severity of the punishment, I don’t know. What is your opinion on the matter?

My second concern with this story is this. I know that many most countries are FAR worse off than us. I also know that in these other struggling countries the number of orphans/ abandon children is astronomical, and that the quality of life in their native countries is low. And I can certainly understand that through international adoption, you are saving a kid from a tough life and a potentially dangerous one. Saving a child breaks the cycle of poverty and lack of education, whether if it only for that one kid. There are may people who partake in this, a God bless their souls.

But don’t we face these problems at a domestic level as well? Wouldn’t it be more practical and perhaps even more beneficial to gradual improvement of quality of life in our own country to adopt children from the United States? It’s a problem that I think is bigger than one might fathom. For all sorts of adoption statistics, check out the following link: Adoption Statistics (Very in depth reports on orphans/adoptions in the US as well as internationally.)

Don’t forget to vote!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Heap Reviews “Wicked”

You will never look at The Wizard of Oz the same way after you see Broadway’s Wicked performed. The show’s tagline suggests that “so much happened before Dorothy droppped in,” as the performance tells the story of the rise and fall of Elphaba, the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. But what the 1930’s film may present as a simple struggle between the emergence of good in a world long chastised by the grasp of wickedness, the play challenges the audience to actually discern what, or even to an extent who, is actually wicked. Instead, Wicked distorts the line between good and wickedness, and between truth and fable, by inviting the audience to consider a new perspective.

The opening number, “No One Mourns the Wicked” essentially picks up at the celebration of the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, with all the Ozians dancing and singing in jubilation. It’s clear cut, right? Wickedness has been defeated, and the reign of Glinda the Good can usher in an era of happiness and peace for The Land of Oz. Alas, as Glinda descends down, the audience can almost feel  her slight discomfort at the sight of the city’s celebration of the death of the witch. And so begins the true story of wickedness, and how its perception is merely based on perspective.

The play was absolutely spectacular because of how it highlights real world problems in the context of an imaginative setting. It turns out that the issues that plague the characters, as well as in general, that take place in the “Far Far Away Land of Oz”, are not so far away after all. Difference, censure, rights, politics and government are all topics n which “Wicked” makes touching, and at times, rather biting suggestions. It challenges the audience to look past the surface of not just people, but problems and even what is understood to be the unanimous “truth,” in not just the Land of Oz, but in our own universe.

The world is personified through the character of Fiyero, who arrives at Shiz as a careless and superficial transfer after being kicked out of numerous schools. His introductory song titled “Dancing Through Life” clearly illustrates the world’s eagerness to ignore the problems of the world and merely focus on oneself. Yet, as we learn more about Fiyero, the audience sees him change, though the play suggests that this change in perspective is an innate quality by instead conveying the idea that it has always been a choice, as he finally chooses to fly away with Elphaba. We have the capability to choose action or inaction. The real question is if you can live with the consequences of working for true justice in a world of distortions.

One of most interesting aspects of the play that I didn’t quite get until I thought about it deeply is why Elphaba must save Fiyero by removing his brain. If we interpret Fiyero as a characterization of us, then it becomes clear. In order to survive in this world, we have to become brainless in order to blend in, much like he is forced to in the field as the Scarecrow. Wicked suggests that despite the complications the play presents, a brain can easily make the choice Fiyero makes.

The play also plays with the age old philosophic debate of whether ignorance is really bliss. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ‘s character is revealed as somewhat of a phony, though his intentions are good. He, as a governing figurehead,  is eager to please his subjects, and falls prey to the power and popularity of his position. You can catch the quips made about the pressures of expectation and the political game if you listen closely. He was put into power to meet expectations, and to unify his subjects, even if it is under an illusion.

You will laugh, and you may cry due to pity and happiness, as Wicked invites you to defy gravity and rise against all hindrances the world throws at you. From the scenery, lighting, and performances of the cast, Wicked promises to be touching, emotional and empowering adventure at the theatre. It can also cause you to reflect and perhaps even change their perspective on how you view the world.

If you choose.

10 out of 10 Bags

The Heap Presents: Review of the Motorola Droid Part 1- Overview and Apps

“In a World of Doesn’t, Droid Does,” was the Verizon Wireless advertising moniker for perhaps one of the most awaited smartphones since the revolutionary iPhone. In fact, little was known about the phone, only quick glimpses due to a seemingly secretive yet intriguing marketing ploy used by VZW. The brief TV spots had to have been influenced by the similar secretive approach used by the promoters of the film Cloverfield. Here’s a sample TV commercial clip:

And of course the infamous iDon’t commercial:

Nevertheless, the real question after all of the advertising hype and hoopla still remains: Can the Droid be the first successful “iPhone killer?” Or at the very least, begin the end for Apple’s reign at the top of the smartphone market.

One of the most glorified selling points of the iPhone is the simplicity of its OS. Everything is only a few slides of the finger and a press of the finger away. While I never did have an iPhone, I did have an iPod touch. The interface was extremely navigable immediately. There wasn’t much to learn when t came to general functions or where something may be hidden. Everything had an icon, and you just scrolled to where the icon was located. The most recent update to the iPhone OS even allowed you to group apps on different “pages” of the sliding menu.

Droid’s interface is generally simple, though a first time user does have to learn the functions of certain buttons as well as the extensive settings menu.  Also, the initial clutter that is all of the application icons is a bit daunting as well initially. But the burgeoning Android user will know how convenient it is to have icons to ALL installed apps listed alphabetically in a slide out menu. This allows the user two place all sorts of widgets and the icons of the most used apps on one of 3 main screens.

Motorola Droid

I have yet to become too “app” savvy, and am in need of tips for useful apps! I do use two widgets, The Weather Channel and CNN widgets. TWC widget is a quick and convenient way to immediately check weather and temperature, with forecasts only a click away. CNN seems to be a good news widget, bt to be honest, I don’t look at it too much. I have heard that USA today might be the way to go with regards to a news ticker. I might have to give it a shot.

Don’t forget the “Social” apps! Dont worry. Facebook for Android already comes pre-loaded. So you can check that one off of your list. If you are into Twitter, I recommend Twidroid Free edition. The app allows you to update Twitter, while receiving tweets for those you follow instantly. AIM and Myspace apps are also available.

Droid requires you to have a Gmail account. Thus, your account’s email is synced to the device! It is possible to sync more than one gmail account (like my personal one and the account for The Heap!) and email addresses from other domains. In addition to email, your user name serves as your GChat name as well! Your buddies can chat with you on your phone as well!

The main free sports app for the Android OS is SportsTap. The app itself is very good, as scores from sports around the world, as well as surprisingly detailed box scores/ stats are readily available. The widget was disappointing because it didn’t seem to work most of the time. The favorite teams customization is pretty useful, as you are alerted when your team is playing and of changes in score. (Another Overtime loss for the Lightning tonight, by the way)

Then, like iPhone, there are an endless amount of created apps for just about anything! Some fun ones are the Coin Flip and Magic 8 Ball apps, that use the phone’s accelerometer to roughly simulate the physics of an actual coin flip or the shaking of the 8 ball. Google Sky Map is by far one of my favorites, as it uses the phone’s position and orientation to accurately tell you what constellations celestial bodies are visible by the user! It is absolutely amazing! And lastly, I have some other practical apps, like Flixster movies for times/reviews, Kayak for travel plans and Phoneflicks for organizing my Netflix queue.

As we can see, this has gone for far too long! I’ve decided to cut the review into parts. Part 2 will be about Music Apps, music playback and other media/ entertainment apps/ capabilities! Part 3 will most likely be about functionality, messaging, what I like and don’t like, and what makes Droid a serious contender in the smart phone battle! I might even make my own review video, showing off my Droid and showing you heapsters how it works! Stay tuned!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser