The Penalty Box
Nowhere can an example of the corrupt capitalistic society be found more perfectly than in this NHL labour dispute. This is essentially a battle between the Haves and the Have Mores, who are scratching and clawing each other over their share average man's money. As the regular man, we pay our money gladly for tickets, concessions and merchandise for our favourite sport teams as a diversion from the everyday life. For Canadians, are national pastime has been held hostage by 2 groups.
The owners are no saints. They have continuously held cities holding the bag trying to meet their demands under blackmail of moving their franchises elsewhere. They ask for the public to fund 500 million dollar stadiums that depreciate worse than used cars, only to ask for better stadiums 5 years into a 20-year term. They constantly look for markets based on volume of people over love of the game, as Quebec City and Winnipeg have lost franchises despite strong local support, while Phoenix and Nashville continue to languish in relative isolation. Owners don't care, as they get to split hefty expansion fees between themselves. For a fan to choose the owners side is like picking Stalin over Lenin; both systems have been corrupted and neither truly benefited the people.
That being said, the owners do have a right to choose the structure that best benefits the league. Despite the fact that there statements of losing money is an obvious lie for most of the teams out there, no one can truly argue that the rocketing NHL team salaries are actually keeping pace with league revenue. It is the owner's fault. They are responsible. They must be allowed to set up a system that allows for a levelling of a playing field. Take a look at baseball. Only 5 teams can seriously compete for the quality free agents, leaving a pool of mediocrity for the rest of the league. The players know that sports are a competition, on and off the rink. Owners will try and bid for players over other teams, thereby raising the value of the rest of the league. Their arbitration is such that not only can the players not lose money for an off-season, but also other players can benefit from higher salaries if they can post slightly better numbers.
The players are fighting to maintain a lifestyle. They have grown accustomed to fancy cars and houses. They are fighting for money, because they know that in a so-called free market system, salaries can and will escalate, even with a 20+% rollback. Hell, they can cut their salaries in half if they want, it will be back to today's average within 2 years, and escalate well beyond that afterwards. There is nothing wrong with a salary cap. Having more healthy competitive teams will increase the fan base if more teams have a shot year to year. That will increase league revenues with the players will need to make sure they can monitor and get a substantial piece of, salary cap or not. Bottom line, the players will lose money of the next couple of years WHEN THEY FINALLY SIGN A DEAL. How long will they continue to make NO MONEY before they sign for LESS MONEY? One thing is for certain, most of the players making the average salary or less cannot be happy with the direction of the negotiations. Tie Domi recently blasted Pierre McGuire for daring to say that a truly anonymous vote will result in 70% of the NHLPA accepting some form of cap. While Pierre agreed that a percentage should not be used, it would still be a significant number. Our own source confirms the same. 2004-05 season is lost, and if there is no progress next year, look for some of the lower end guys to start speaking out. Tie will have his hands full trying to keep his intimidation tactics as those numbers start to grow.
Final result: Game Misconduct on the NHLPA
About the Author
Gary Whittaker is the editory of T.E.N Magazine, a social and sports commentary webzine with balls! Check out more articles at http://www.tenwebzine.com