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Continued lockout musings and ponderings
Just say "no" to replacement players
5/10/05 - by Steve Flores

Well guys and dolls I don't know about you but I, myself, have somehow managed to survive 'the season without hockey' without the planet opening wide and swallowing me whole. I admit that the lockout and its machinations drove me batty. I was on a daily hunt for some positive news on a daily basis until the official word of the lockout finally came down from the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

When the word finally came that there would be no hockey I simply decided, despite my views and those of the players and of the ownership groups, that there truly is more to life than hitching my entertainment star to two sets of millionaires telling me that their concerns included me, the fan! Neither of these two sets of joker's care about anyone but themselves. I have received letters from reader's telling me I was nuts for siding more so with the players than the owners. Which, I still do in the sense that no one has ever forced the owner's hands to sign outrageous contracts etc, etc, etc, but I'm not going to get into that for the umpteenth time.

Readers have whined at me that the player's agent's, local fans and media also apply pressure to the team's ownership groups and that they face the evil wrath of those parties if they are unable to sign a top-notch talent.

Give me a break!

Outside of New York and Toronto, no city has a media or fan base that really can affect a team's decision-making process. Owners are men who are fully-grown and, in theory: mature. If these fully developed suit wearing, corporate loving humanoids are intelligent and of strong will then no wormy little sport's agent is going to be able to force their hand. If you believe the contrary then I have a red state or two for you to move to.

With that said I do believe the NHL needs to find a new financial structure to lie at its base. I for one am fed up with the prices that are currently being charged to sit anywhere in an NHL arena where the players don't look like toy soldiers from your vantage point of viewing the game. Ticket prices are out of whack and that is the aspect of the money situation that hits home for most fans. Oh, don't think I'm being naive folks. Not for one moment do I believe that these ownerships groups are ever going to lower ticket prices. If you believe that ownership will ever pass on a thin dime to you then I am willing to find you a home in yet another red state in which you surely belong.

The NHL is the weakest of the 4 traditional team-related sports in North America. They have the poorest TV ratings and an equally poor TV package from NBC. ESPN is rumored to be ready to opt out of their current contract yet may be willing to deal with the NHL on terms set by ESPN. The ownership groups should be familiar with this as it is basically the same ultimatum that they placed on the Players union.

A couple weeks back a Board of Governor's meeting was held where all ownership groups were represented. The Sharks CEO Greg Jamison was at those meetings. At the conclusion of those meetings it was widely reported that Jamison was very vocal about wanting replacement players should no agreement be signed with the players before the start of any possible 2005-06 season. Gee, thanks Greg. I would just love to watch minor league level hockey yet again! I wish I could say he must be kidding, but I can't. I work the message boards of this and other hockey related websites and have noticed a plethora of people in the Bay Area who state they are willing to watch replacement players. You all scare me.

We have waited for many, many years to garner the team that went to the NHL's conference championship a year ago and I am not willing to accept Mr. Jamison's wants to put anything less than that quality back on the ice in The Shark Tank. People, have a little self-respect and do not let them get away with that. It is offensive and shows a lack of respect for you as a Shark's fan. You deserve better and Mr. Jamison should know better.

With all of this said I still sit in wait, hopeful that the world's greatest spectator sport will soon be back on display with the politics, ego and overbearing talk of money somewhere out of sight and out of mind.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com



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