| Comrade I have chosen a
League or Union? Neither
1/6/05 - by Steve Flores
Early January and we are
still without the NHL variety of hockey. I am aware that much of Canada,
several parts of the USA and all of Europe have some variety of the sport being
played at varying levels. But here in the Bay Area we only have one variety of
hockey, which just so happens to be the top notch, big kahuna level of the NHL.
Please don't bombard me with inane ravings about collegiate level
games or kiddy hockey as neither is in the same genre. If your son or daughter
plays the game that is an awesome thing, however those of us without hockey
playing children do not subscribe to that particular brand and we miss the big
boys. Even the one's that have gone to mother Russia to ply their trade in the
land of former communism. That 'RED' hammer and sickle image seems to have
taken hold in the mindsets of the NHL's owners.
reading, listening and siphoning months of countless banter by the NHL's
corporate body, as well as, the player's union representatives I have finally
softened my initial stance that both sides were greedy and ignorant. The
players made an extremely good faith gesture with their most recent proposal to
the league. The proposal carried many 'give backs' such as an across the board
24% salary cut for all currently signed contracts.
Have you ever seen
pro athletes pull that move?
I'm betting NOT!
A salary cut
folks! A cut in the monies that they were to be paid based on contracts
mutually negotiated and signed by these same owners. The owner's response was
to reject it and ask that they take a salary cut of 36%.
Must be nice
The owners lure players with outrageously large contract offers.
Sign the players then decide to ask them to take a pay cut because the owners
aren't able to police themselves along the lines of fiscal responsibility!
Does anyone else see the lunacy in this?
The owners want a
salary cap. I for one don't have a problem with that as a future concept. What
I do have a problem with is that the owners are not attempting to negotiate
towards a cap. They are demanding it. Labor agreements are based on good faith
negotiation. Agreed upon labor contracts usually run for 4 or 5 years upon
which new negotiation takes place to adjust for items that are not working for
one or both parties involved. Unfortunately for the owners they are attempting
to shove the cap down the player's throat. The issue should have been broached
at prior negotiations in an attempt to show the importance of its possibility.
To draw a line in the sand and have no real desire to negotiate is very
POLITBURO-like on behalf of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the rest of the
league's owners. Last time I checked Moscow is somewhere rather far east of the
Aside from the salary cap issue and the salary cut
issue the players also offered up several other concessions that clearly show a
desire on their part to negotiate.
Entry-level cutbacks, a change in
the salary arbitration system, an idea for revenue sharing (a la the NFL) are
all ideas brought forth by the union. They may not be perfect but they are
without doubt an attempt at breaking the stalemate. The league responded with
an offer that guarantees team players rights for 12 years without the athlete
having any recourse in terms of arbitration. They would either take the offer
made by a G.M. or watch his career go by the wayside. Again I am sensing some
power and control issues here that would make Stalin proud.
responded by saying 'oh u wanna give a 24% cutback? Great but it's not enough.
In some cases we want as much as a 35% cutback'. This league offered gesture of
separate rollback percentages seems to be a rather ludicrous attempt to break
the union. According to many insiders including New York Post columnist Larry
Brooks feel that "Bettman's transparent attempt to divide and conquer the union
through a salary rollback scheme designed to pit the league's highest-paid
players against the most modestly rewarded athletes has started the clock
ticking on his tenure as NHL Commissioner".
Brooks went on to state
"the NHL's latest proposal, repressive and oppressive to degrees not seen in
pro sports' collective bargaining agreements since the decades-old days of the
reserve clause, not only will fail to meet Bettman's objective, but it
unwittingly will do more to cement union solidarity than anything union chief
Bob Goodenow ever could have hoped to achieve". This move is so moronic that it
seems to have deepened the players resolve. Mr. Bettman obviously doesn't pay
attention to the Stanley Cup playoffs where everyone is careful not to make
newsworthy quotes that may result in lighting a fire under an opponent.
Arrogant? Brash? Ignorant? Moronic?
Some people say its cold
and calculating on the league's behalf, yet those same people can't seem to
explain exactly what those frigid and thoughtful facts would be.
Several of the leagues players and now Wayne Gretzky himself have made
statements that the NHL may not only lose this season but also must or all of
Amazing isn't it. The NHL, North America's weakest of the
4 major team sports could become the first to actual cancel an entire season.
Are these players overpaid? This is a relative question but the
relative answer is yes, of course they are. We in capitalist countries are so
out of whack in terms of our financial priorities that it's sure to be laughed
about by future generations of Homo sapiens. Let it be said that pretty much
all American athletes are overpaid, yet that fact alone does not mean the
owners are right for taking the hard line stance that they have taken.
A nasty rumor has emanated from certain owners as well as some highly placed
NHL insiders that the league plans to use replacement players for the 2005-2006
season. Now that would be the ultimate slap at the fans of this incredibly
dysfunctional league. Hopefully the Sharks management won't attempt to force
this upon one of the best season ticket bases in the league.
the real Sharks will be on the ice sometime soon.
semblance of common sense and less political control will result in having the
real NHL back in action before next January
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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