Wednesday, September 15, 2004

NHL Lockout Day #1

No, I'm not going to post something every day of the lockout but there are a couple things worth posting about today. And yes, it's not technically the first day of the lockout since the CBA hasn't expired yet but it might as well be. First off is Gary Bettman's comments to the media today. One I found particularly interesting is this one:
"This action is not taken lightly -- or eagerly -- and when the Union wants to stop the posturing and acknowledges that the problems are as real as our Governors' resolve to fix them, we will be here, ready to make a fair and meaningful agreement that will usher in a new era for our game."
In my opinion, the owners and the League have done more posturing than the players but that's just me. Also, comments like that don't show much respect for the other side. The owners may have all the resolve in the world but they are going to have to learn how to have a little respect if they want to get something from the players.
"It is a fact -- a fact -- that during this CBA, a team in the top one-third in salaries has been three times more likely to make the playoffs than a team in the bottom third. That is a status quo with which we simply cannot continue to live. Our game and our fans deserve better."
I don't think that is too much of a tragedy when more than half the teams make the playoffs anyway.
"... I have had too many owners tell me they will get out of this game if the economics are not repaired."
Oh, wouldn't that be a tragedy? Wouldn't that mean fewer teams in the NHL? Oh no! How could the League cater to its enormous and thriving fanbase if there were only 21-25 teams?
"This game's future depends upon getting the right economic system. In the absence of such a system, there is no future for our game."
Uh, no Gary, that is incorrect. The game of hockey will always exist, even at the professional level, in countries like Canada, Finland, Sweden and Russia to name a few. The loss of the NHL will hurt the sport, for sure, but don't ever say it is so weak as to depend wholly on it. For more on this theme, read this very good article by Damien Cox on ESPN. And finally, about the only thing he said that I like:
"We owe it to hockey's fans to achieve an economic system that will result in affordable ticket prices..."
Amen to that. Also, check out this great article by Dan Wetzel. He rightly points out that, had Bettman done his job the past nearly 12 years, the NHL would never be in this position. I really, truly think the job of NHL commissioner should go to someone else. This is Bettman's last chance at saving himself, in my opinion.


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