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Playing with deposit, not an option
My money is on NHL hockey
1/30/05 - by Mike Lee

News from the great NHL Lockout debate of 2004-05 continues to point to doom and gloom, but little snippets from the press have really chapped my hide this week. Forget the fact that the season is on the brink of extinction, there's far more important news on the horizon and it has to do with my money. David Pollak from the San Jose Mercury News reported on Sunday that the fine print in the Sharks Season Ticket Holder Agreement last Fall includes a little slippery language which was misconstrued by yours truly last August.

That language implies that the Sharks could in fact hold on to the deposit that all season ticket holders are forced to pony up during the summer, until play resumes. I understood that part. What wasn't crystal clear to me is the fact that the Sharks could automatically apply that money to games that could involve replacement players.

When sent in my season ticket money, that money was intended to be used on NHL caliber hockey, not minor league caliber hockey. So if the Sharks were to attempt to apply that money to games that involved replacement players, I would raise objections.

Granted, the Sharks have done nothing of the sort and the season hasn't been cancelled, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt as of now. Canceling an entire NHL season will alienate some, but not all of the current season ticket holder base. Playing games with money that was committed to the organization in good faith is an entirely different matter. I hope owners around the league get that message.

Let Them Eat Cake

Speaking of alienating fans, I also read comments from several Sharks players earlier this week, expressing their concern with the current labor issue. Sharks captain Patrick Marleau had a few things to say about the owner's proposal for a salary cap and how the players union wouldn't tolerate it.

Marleau's commented that any such salary cap would force players to bolt from city to city in order to essentially garner the money that they deserved, and that fans wouldn't be able to establish the same affinity to players because they would be changing employers more often.

I could only shake my head after reading Marleau's comments. For one, as long as free agency is a part of sports, players are going to head for greener pastures ay just about every opportunity that they get. To pass off the notion that players would be more likely to do so with a salary cap is just plain insulting.

Yes, the NHL gives teams a tighter reign on younger players, but as a fan of the game, I say it's too bad every other sport doesn't have the same system. Even with this system, players still find ways to hold guns to the heads of their employers if they're not receiving the money they think they're worth. Can you say "holdout"?

I think Patrick needs to head back to Aneroid and shovel some snow for a few weeks and let that clean Canadian air clear his senses, because the polluted climate of professional sports is beginning to cloud his judgment a wee bit.

Actually, I wouldn't mind the suits from the NHL and the NHLPA head up to Northern Saskatchewan, and settle their differences by dropping the puck on some frozen pond, with a little shinny action. It might be good for everyone's senses.

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