| Same old, same
Take it or leave it
7/11/05 - by Ken Smyth
You'd think that after about
300 days of lockout, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director
Bob Goodenow should be worried about keeping their jobs. Better qualified
specimens can be found at Mel Cotton's in cartons marked "Live Bait". Still the
owners and players are standing behind their leadership, (using them as human
shields, perhaps?) oblivious to the fact that entire US population of diehard
NHL fans can now comfortably fit into a minivan. This blindly loyal behavior is
not restricted to humans, there's a story on Yahoo about 450 sheep being killed
by following their leader off a cliff.
So nothing changes. Same old,
same old. Once again there's a story that the NHL and the Players Association
are within a few days of an agreement, once again it's denied. It's the
equivalent of Groundhog Day, only when it ends here we don't wake up with Andie
McDowell. Just Goodenow and Bettman in our bed and we'll definitely burn those
sheets and take a shower with Lysol and an SOS pad, hoping to God that there's
nothing that can't be cured with penicillin or Nits.
side thought they could gain by hanging tough in the negotiations, the strategy
backfired. The players will be taking a big hit on salaries, and the owners'
will find that even with that salary cut, cap and a tie to revenues that they
will still be losing money. It should've been easy to see that ESPN would be
dropping the contract once the Stanley Cup Playoffs were cancelled: playoff
ratings are the whole reason they put up with airing games during the regular
You can argue that that wasn't much money in the overall
scheme of things, but it was exposure. Now it will take a few years of filled
arenas for a long-term NHL contract to be more attractive to a network than
NCAA chess, even that timetable could get screwed up if the chess boys start
getting caught with guns and banned substances (I believe that would be women)
and their ratings go through the roof.
I was hoping there would be a
break, I was even hoping that the WHA-will rise-again rumors would be amount to
something, though those had as much chance as a hard way-five bet in Vegas. (If
the shooter does roll a hard-way five, you've obviously had too much liquor or
a bad Lasics operation). Right now the important thing is to get the NHL moving
under its own power in some form as soon as possible, before it's towed.
It's my belief that the NHL owners will put out a
take-it-or-leave-it-we-mean-it-this-time offer out there soon and announce an
end to the lockout. If the NHLPA doesn't accept then the teams will start a
2005-06 season with replacement players and however many veterans break with
their union. There could be a lot more than you'd think. Expect also that a lot
of marginal European players will go home and stay there if they feel that the
money in North America is no longer worth the wear and tear of the long
schedule, physical play and small rinks.
There will be rule changes like touch-up off-sides, no
touch icing and removal of the center line off-sides. Maybe even a shoot-out
after overtime. Some purists may sneer, but they probably did that when they
dropped the sixth skater and put nets, instead of sticks, behind the goalie.
But it will be hockey and it will start in October; if for no other reason than
to keep Sidney Crosby from playing in Europe in a sweater that looks like a
NASCAR uniform. If this lockout makes referees actually call interference like
they did back in the 70's I'd almost say that losing a season was worth it.
Trophies for the 2004-05 season.
There were no games on the
ice, just off. They were pretty pitiful as these union/management disputes go,
I mean nobody got pistol whipped or called a lying c***sucker, except Bettman
during his weekly Thursday appointment with Mistress Domina. Anyway, we still
need to polish up the hardware and pass it around, though this year the dinner
will be take-out:
1) Hart Trophy (MVP)- Sidney Crosby of the QMJHL
Rimouski Oceanic. Simple arithmetic. Big draw + relatively cheap + unsullied by
this whole mess = Most Valuable Player
2) Art Ross Trophy (Scoring)-
Jeremy Roenick, Philadelphia Flyers. If you don't like the deal the players
get, stay home. JR is known for sticking a size 15 skate into his mouth at
frequent intervals, but he is exactly correct in detailing what the customers'
rights are in a free market system.
3) Lester Patrick Trophy (service
to hockey in the US) Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils President/GM. Yes its
been about a year and a half since the New Jersey Nets were sold and Lou
stepped down as their CEO and President , but look at the excitement (yawn) of
the NBA Finals this year! Classic Devils hockey now invades the NBA, meaning
that if the NHL ever does get some sort of act together there may be some TV
time left. A second one of these trophies for Lou.
4) Norris Trophy
(best defenseman)- Dale Tallon, Chicago Blackhawks GM- Former Blackhawk
defenseman Dale take over as GM in June and immediately fires coach Brian
Sutter, replacing him with another former Blackhawk defenseman Trent Yawney.
This stifles any immediate threat to the continued decline of the 'Hawks and
ensures plenty of empty seats in the United Center. Message here from
Blackhawks VP Bob Pulford is that it's fine to bring in fresh blood to the
organization, just be sure that they don't spill it anyplace you can't wipe
off. Not only that, Brian Sutter's blood had a little too much St. Louis Blue
in it for Pulford to handle.
Contact Ken at
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