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article imageOp-Ed: Anyone else out there hoping the NHL lockout drags on?

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 15, 2012 in Sports
Look, I'm a pretty big hockey fan and next to my son's Pee Wee league, the NHL is tops with me. It's a great league and when not dealing with their contracts, professional hockey players seem like fine humans.
But of course they're dealing with contracts now, which serves to remind one of the absurd amounts of money we're paying them, and this time around they're being particularly...annoying? Let's just say they're incurring my wrath and that there's a part of this fan that will be disappointed upon hearing that a new CBA has been signed. Indeed, though I'll likely return to watching when it's all over, I'm actively hoping the lockout continues until around this time in 2015, even beyond.
Why? They've gone too far, the players have, and I'm getting pleasure knowing that as I write they are losing loads of money - money that we get to keep - and putting a kink in their career stats. It serves them right to suffer and here's why:
NHL owners need a Salary Cap
Firstly, I'm one of the few not blaming he Gary Bettman-led owners. I believe a report compiled by Forbes magazine that found only 5 of the 30 teams in the NHL turned a profit last season, four Canadian, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, and one American, the New York Rangers. That many teams aren't making money is actually common knowledge.
I don't agree owners are losing money because of an admitted willingness to pay absurd amounts in contracts, the most recent case in points being what Craig Leipold of the Minnesota Wild agreed to pay Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Teams outbid one another where the rules allow because the rules allow it and doing so could land them a talented player - or players - who'll help win a Stanley Cup. Fans should want them to work the rules to get the best players they can.
The owners need a limit on how much the player's get in order to turn a profit. I'm okay with that, they need rules to stop themselves from ruining their shot at profit because if teams continue to be unable to turn a profit the NHL is in jeopardy. Obviously player salaries are the problem, contracts that make the game so expensive many families can't afford to go.
It is not like players are being asked to dramatically reduced what they make, that average of 2.5 million bucks a season the NHLPA enjoyed until the expiration of the last CBA isn't going to go down much. As for shorter contract spans, why would the rank-and-file NHL player, who'll never get the kind of ridiculous 13 year deals Parise and Suter got, hoist themselves on their own hockey stick so a tiny percentage of players can?
NHL player contracts keep growing
There are two things that have been served up to us fans by the players that are objectionable in the extreme and which have caused me to clutch my hockey beads and pray they stay off the ice for a lengthy time: 1) all their phony sympathy for the fans and self-serving statements and 2) all that greed.
They are concerned, the line goes,about the fan, the fan deserves better. "it's all the fans who are really losing out" players say, then turn around and blame it entirely on the other side and don't push their union to bargain in good faith. As for self-serving statements, 25-year-old superstar Sidney Crosby told us hockey isn't broke "so why fix it?" Crosby has already made $47 million in his career - at 25!!! - and will be paid $12 million per season from 2013-14 through 2015-2016. If he plays until his contract runs out in 2024-25, he'll have made over $150 million. Yeah, Sid, for you it certainly isn't broke.
The most self-serving statement? The one dozens of players and the NHLPA's Donald Fehr have made throughout this: we were willing to play and negotiate during the season. That's not how labor works and given that before this CBA expired the NHLPA refused to negotiate, and they're dragged it out at a time when the players aren't even on the ice, the likelihood of a deal without a lockout is on a par with the likelihood of Scott Gomez earning his salary (he's made $23.5 million the past 3 seasons in which he's scored a total of 21 goals; that's over a million bucks a goal).
As for greed, you have Alex Ovechkin complaining about a salary cut after a 65 point season. A slightly above average point total but given he made $9.5 million dollars and his defensive play is average at best, he seems awfully overpaid. But greedy guy that he is, he's not willing to take a pay cut and is on record as saying he'd prefer to stay in Europe if his NHL salary is reduced. Used to love his zest for the game, now I'll be fine if the KHL keeps him.
NHL players average salary
At an average salary of $2.5 million players are doing all right. Risk of injury? True, though most of the serious risk, head injuries, come from players not respecting each other and hopefully, the league will continue working to keep the players from hurting one another (sounds a bit like rules being needed to keep the owners from hurting one another financially, no?).
In the final analysis taking 7 percent, reducing contract lengths (yeah, 5 seems a bit short, but the long-term ones had gotten out of hand), making new players go a year longer with their initial contract and keeping players a year longer with their drafting team, all of that, along with a better system of revenue sharing, which is being worked upon, is going help the game. None of it is going to impact the player's lifestyle.
So let it drag on another season, two more, even three. If you are with me, go ahead, click 'like' and pass this along. Of course the vast majority of you won't agree but for all of you, well, with the recent 'two week moratorium' on talks Bettman suggested, it's looking more and more like I'm gonna be getting my way.
Though I'll admit this - it's a bittersweet win.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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