Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya ... a prayer to the powers of hockey

Look at that: I got a bunch of views and some of them are not even my own nor the ones I paid for either.
And what is that ... a comment … a NICE comment? Well of course it is .. 'cause it's from my dear friend Pam.
I also got a couple of direct emails asking questions and making suggestions and you will all get your answers soon. However, while I appreciate the emails, I would strongly suggest in the future go to the comments section .. let your hair down and go to bat with me in public .. I won't bite. . unless you want me to.
While Pam's questions are quite interesting, and I promise I will answer them in the next entry, today I want to focus on something else:

 The CBA negotiations.

Yes, I know, boring subject, everybody is covering it , not much to say about it that hasn't already been said in a thousand +1 places all over the interwebs and printed media ( well in Canada that is, cause in US there is no such thing as printed Hockey media in most places).
What does this CBA stand for? Collective Bargaining Agreement some would say.. right? Well … I think they got the “Collective” part covered , now with Fehr involving as many players as he can and the great Commish doing his thing with the owners club but …. umm where is the bargaining? They keep meeting for a coffee and scones and then they break off “negotiations” to run tell the “Collective” how there is no progress and the gulf between them is filled with rocks, nuclear submarines with death dealing torpedoes and Megalodons and there's no way on crossing it.
We have all been involved in “bargaining” one way or another. A Farmer's market, a fake Rolex vendor, a car dealer. It can be a lengthy process. Bargaining with the car dealer can take many consecutive hours and that is just ONE item to settle: the car price. These people have dozens of things to settle on yet they can't seem to sit at a table together longer than it takes some people to get a smoke break at the office. What exactly do they plan to accomplish in a coffee break? And why do they spend more time doing the silly PR war with the media than they do actually negotiating?
Today they met for 45 mins already..then they ran away to chat it out with the “collective”. There is no consensus on what has been discussed but I doubt they managed to hash out a lot more than what creamer is best to use on a bourbon toffee flavored coffee. The good news is they said they will be back to the negotiating table today .. probably just in time for the 5 o'clock tea and biscuits.
Shall we take a look at what people think at the major issues they can't agree on? If my understanding of the economics involved ( and I am horrible at it so if I am wrong please do point out to me where I am mistaken) is correct, one of the issues is something to do with who pays who for the money lost by the teams with financial problems .. more or less. Well .. my first question would be: why are there teams with financial problems? Is it that some cities can't sustain a hockey team, as some ancient alien theorist suggest? Well why are there teams in cities than can't sustain hockey, you ask? Because NHL expanded. And how did it expand? Well they voted on it .. who voted on it you ask? The existing owners.
AHA .. so there you are . This is who should pay for the teams that lose money: the teams who make money. Or do the sensible thing and cut the teams that lose money and cry for it. Problem solved .. next item on the agenda …
oh wait .. what is that .. owners still crying about cap being too high and salaries being exorbitant ? Well you wanted a cap , you set the amount, you set the annual increase limit on that cap .. what's the problem? And don't get me into the whole high salaries thing .. who gave away those contracts? Was it Jesus?
Other items in dispute are contract lengths, duration till UFA etc. I guess the owners are crying that they need more return for their “investment” in their draftees. I guess they have a point .. I mean think about all the investment that went into sucking balls for a year or two so that you get the best chance of winning the draft lottery and pick whoever the draft central considers the top graduate of that year's prospect class . Hard work I tell ya.
But .. how about that “prospect” who dreamed of being a Wing or a Ranger, or even a Shark .. only to be drafted by … the Islanders? Or the Oilers? I mean I am 18 yr' old , better than all other teenagers in the draft and I worked really hard at it and now you tell me I have to move to Edmonton out of all places, for the entire length of my effective youth? That is Alberta! What is there to do for a vibrant 18 yr old in that place?

And the list of issue goes on. It's a hard list, I do admit .. but ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, let's look at the facts: hockey has never been as popular in US and the world as it is now. The NHL as a league is growing, the players , well some of them anyway, are seeing more money than at any time ever in the history of the league. Why ruin it now with a lockout?
Well because we, the fans, proved we are suckers and will come back in drones making the owners and the players richer in the process while our pockets are getting emptier and ( now I am getting into another sore issues I have) the actual hockey product is getting worse ( but that is for another day).
Our great Commish put it publicly : we are the best fans in the world. And while it was a PR stunt .. he is right. We forgive and forget and they can afford to take smoke breaks instead of negotiation sessions. We close our eyes and hug them blindly, that is why they can screw around for a year of lockout. They have the time cause we give them our patience, they have the money cause.. well we gave them that, so for the most part neither owners nor players are really motivated to get anything done in time for the season.
Now some will say: how about the bottom end players, the ones that do not make a gazillion just to sign a piece of papers because their last name is Parise? Well I don't know how to put this but even they make enough to be able to save for rainy days plus they have the PA for which they payed monthly .. right? Trust me .. they will all survive.
And so will I .. I am a hockey fan first and foremost. And there is a lot of hockey around. AHL season will go on and you can go watch your local team if you have it or find web streams on top of whatever they will show on NHL network. There are also links, if you know where to look, with excellent European hockey ( SEL, KHL etc). In Canada they are covered for live hockey as well but even in US there's hockey to be seen live. For example San Francisco just got a brand new ECHL team: The Bulls (http://sfbulls.com/) . There's also college hockey and various other minor leagues. Great hockey everywhere you look.
What does that mean?
If the fools at the negotiating table don't get their panties straighten out, I will be sad the Sharks are locked out and I can't watch Marleau blinking wildly while shying away from contact but I will get my hockey fix one way or another.
So bring it on NHL and NHLPA .. lock yourself out .. I will be said but I won't cry.

Now I was suggested to end my blogs with some witty one-liner the way some bloggers do but I have a problem with that .. see Camelia Gore , the Sharks “blogger” for hockeybuzz ends his rants with something along the lines of “keep your stick on the ice”, Well I prefer to keep mine in my pants cause I am sure nobody wants to see it .. and no offense Cammer .. but the ice is damn cold .. not good for stick size.

Here's to hoping they find common ground and the season is saved ..