The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, although I'm not sure it completely hit me until I received an email from the Columbus Blue Jackets a couple weeks ago. It was the one that assured me as a Season Ticket Holder that "contingency plans are in place with regards to refunds and/or credits related to any cancelled games."
Of course, with a hockey season at stake, articles swirling about what another lengthy lockout would do to businesses in the Arena District, and everything else that comes with it... it's not much consolation. After all, why does a person buy a ticket plan and start making payments on it... if not to be assured of watching hockey this season?
All the same... we stand on the precipice of a grim holiday.
Today is No Year's Eve.
Saturday night at 11:59 p.m., the NHL is set to go into its second lockout in eight years -- and third in 18. And every indication is that it could be lengthy -- preseason, first month, second month, All Star Game... buh-bye.
We are here because of -- what else -- a labor dispute. Once again, management and workers cannot seem to come to an agreement.
What a sick joke. Hockey players are not "workers." Do they work? Absolutely. But are they workers? Hell, no. To me, there is no nothing to justify the concept the concept of a players' union. You play a game, and get to make a living doing it. Shut up and play.
The NHLPA and Donald Fehr will tell you that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of the NHL's 30 franchises are just being greedy. Bettman and the owners of the NHL's 30 franchises will likely tell you the same about Fehr and the NHLPA.
They're both right.
Hockey fans are not morons. Every single one of us know if there are no saints in this process. There are no good proposal here. To think that the owners were trying to knock the players' share of the league's record revenues from 57 to 43 percent is the dumbest-ass thing I've heard in many, many years. Their more recent proposal of 46 percent is not much better.
Any kid in freshman economics -- hell, high school algebra -- could tell you that something like that would never happen.
On the players' end, there's no way in hell you can expect to keep status quo. Sorry, 57% is not going to cut it.
Call it 50-50, shake hands and walk away. It really is that simple.
Some of the other things the owners are proposing about contract structure... not unreasonable at all. Term limit of, what... five years? Sure, why not? Just because no one else is likely to do something so stupid as to sign a one hit wonder, break-a-nail-and-he's-done-for-the-season goaltender to a 15-year deal, doesn't mean you shouldn't help others resist the temptation.
Maybe some stipulations to safeguard against ridiculously front-loaded contracts? Sign me up.
Salary cutback... sure. Some individual salaries are out of control. Hell, even when some of us still liked Rick Nash, he wasn't earning his $7.8 million.
However, owners can't cry foul about contract length when they're signing guys to longer-term contracts, such as Tyler Seguin's recent six-year deal. Sorry, boys... not helping your case.
Gary Bettman says the league can't continue under the terms of the current CBA. Hmmmmm... are those record revenues I see there, Gar? Shut the hell up. You get paid no matter what. You don't give a $#!+, and hockey fans know it.
Donald Fehr tries to tell us-- okay, you know what, who cares what he has to say. Donald Fehr shut down America's so-called pastime before the WORLD SERIES as the head of the MLBPA. Major League Baseball continues to be a boring, steroid-tainted sport that needs to be shut down and cleaned up before players ever take the field. But that's another story. It's the world Donald Fehr created, though... and that's my point. Fehr could care less if the players don't take the ice this year. He doesn't care about hockey. I'd bet he's never watched the sport in his life. The guy's just a lawyer who gets off on fighting for the "rights" of "workers" for whom steadily increasing salaries just aren't enough.
Donald Fehr has shown before that he's willing to shut down a sport, no matter how rich that sport's tradition is. And the players hired him to represent them.
Players' unions are bull$#!+. Always have been. Always will be. You play hockey for a living. Sure, 82 games is grueling. Playing up to 28 Playoff games is also grueling. It's also not a job. Playing a professional sport is a privilege. Based on natural talent, sure.... still a privilege.
As much as I despise him, and as much of a D-bag as he is -- and as stupid as this whole #UnitedWeStand #ThePlayers garbage is -- I'm about to use Jordin Tootoo to make a point.
Do all players really go along with this "united" crap? Of course not. Tootoo's probably grateful to even be getting an NHL salary, let alone the bloated one he'll get paid in Detroit if both sides manage to get their $#!+ together. Players want to play hockey, and do so on time.
Yet... they hired Don Fehr. Apparently they don't want to play that badly.
Gary Bettman has spent the last few years telling us how great everything is going in hockey... record revenues! A great TV deal! Hockey is as popular as ever!
Yeah... remember that last lockout? Hockey took a HUGE hit.
ESPN didn't even want it back when the lockout was over. Say what you will about how bad ESPN sucks, there was nothing better than when Gary Thorne was calling hockey games with Bill Clement. Best hockey duo on TV. Every other ESPN NHL pairing TV team was pretty much scrubs by comparison, but Thorne and Clement? Awesome.
So as nice as that NBC deal is, there is not enough lipstick for that pig. There is not one broadcast team they have that can hold a candle to the coverage ESPN had. And ESPN televised more games... and didn't sandwich them in between buck huntin', bull ridin' and other "sports."
The NHL had to fight its way back. And it wasn't pretty, and it wasn't easy.
And Bettman is willing to do it all over again. Sure, Fehr is, too... but we all know he lives for this crap anyway.
What this all comes down to is this.
The players don't care.
The owners don't care.
The only people who do care in this whole process are the ones who aren't at the table.
The ones without a say.
The ones who provide a chunk of that revenue that started this whole pissing match between these @$$holes in suits to begin with.
The owners still get paid. The players got paid from their little "war chest" so they can support their spouses, kids, mistresses, postgame escorts in Detroit and so forth.
To hell with them all... we're the ones on the verge of going without hockey. Again.
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