This blog, or column as I like to think of it, is usually about some fairly geeky things. Primarily comic books, but occasionally movies and TV shows too. So, if you are one of my readers who only wants to read about that sort of stuff just pretend that the following 600 words or so are about NHL13. Let’s say that I, as the owner, have locked out me, as the player, from the Xbox. Okay? So, just keep that in mind.
As a beer swilling, ketchup chip eating, “eh” saying, overly polite, Rush listening, stereotype of all things Canadian, you know I love hockey. I only started watching frequently shortly before the last lock out, so when this one started I didn’t really know what I was in for. Oh, I guess I should explain a wee bit for those of you who don’t follow North American sports – the group of people who own the individual hockey teams are having a disagreement with the union that represents the people who actually play hockey. It’s all very complicated, but the very basics of it are this:
The owners have said since the last agreement was put in place that the league has made record profits every year. In the process of making these record profits, the salary cap has consistently gone up and so have player salaries. The top end of talent is consistently making 8 – 10 million dollars a year, and I think that’s before any performance bonuses are factored in. Now, the owners want to roll back the salary cap that they increased and reduce the amount they have to pay the players.
Some players have already made their way over to Europe to play hockey for leagues over there. They are making a fraction of what they make when they play for the NHL. Some people say, “Well, if they are willing to take less to play hockey over there, why aren’t they willing to take less to play here?” I think the answer to that comes down to principle. They agreed to be paid a specific amount. In fact, they have a legally binding contract. Why should they take less? How can they trust any contract to be honoured?
Others have said, “Why should we feel sorry for them? They get paid millions of dollars to play a game?” The thing is, that’s not even the issue. I certainly think all professional athletes are overpaid, but that’s just a fact of life. We can’t change that. But, no one’s asking you to feel sorry for them. And, you know, if they said that if player salaries getting rolled back would lead to lower ticket prices I would probably be more willing to accept it. The thing is, any savings from a salary reduction are going to go directly to the owners. Frankly, I’m not interested in the owners. They come and go, and the teams all stay pretty much the same. If I want my money to go to anyone, I’d much prefer it go to the players. They’re the ones we all go to see. They’re the ones that make the whole thing viable.
Finally, and this is something that non-hockey fans aren’t going to appreciate, but the players definitely lost the last negotiations. They caved to a salary cap that they didn’t want. They caved to rule changes they didn’t want. This was all done in the interest of supposedly saving the sport. The sport has now been saved. It’s doing better than ever. So why should they have to make any more concessions?
All that being said, I just hope this thing gets resolved soon. We’ve already lost so much of the season. I just want to watch some hockey.
Graham Becksted will be more nerdy next week, he promises. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.