Draper's Comments Make It Easier For Fans To Side With Owners

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/2004/12/08/773456.html

Kris Draper has come out a day before the NHLPA and NHL brass will meet to discuss a CBA for the first time since September 9, 2004. Draper, before boarding a plane to play in a European exhibition with other NHL stars, blamed the NHL’s ills completely on Gary Bettman and Bettman’s plan for expansion.

Draper said “”Bettman’s plan was expansion,” Draper said. “He brought in the Florida’s and Nashville’s of the world and now he wants the players to fix it. I don’t know what exact role the (union) played in (expansion), but I don’t think it’s right he wants us to fix it.”

In some ways Draper is right but the owners OWN the teams. They can do whatever they want to get the financial model that fits their needs for the NHL element of their portfolio.

Draper’s next comments are more disturbing when talking about Detroit Red Wings owner, Mike Ilich and his success: “”He did it by making pizzas and building up his company,” Draper said. “I mean, people forget in the early 1980s that Detroit wasn’t doing much. Crowds of 8,500 weren’t uncommon there. Mike came in, built up the team and turned it into one of the greatest products in the game. He spend $60-70 million US for salaries and so forth, and now the franchise is worth about $300 million. He did that, so what’s stopping other owners from doing it?”

This comment hits on the real problem with the NHLPA. They see strong, vertically integrated business and people who own them as able and willing to pay ANYTHING for their services. While that may work in a few cases (the Yankees come to mind) how dare players suggest that Comcast or Cable Vision or Disney have to eat away at the profits from their better performing sectors to increasingly pay NHL players, long term, guaranteed contracts EVEN if they don’t perform. Say what you want about CEOs but if they stop making a profit – they are GONE. I can think of some players in the NHL who make nearly 10 million per year and don’t score anywhere near where they did when they got the deal. The current CBA has them getting paid no matter what.

Both Shane Doan and Kris Draper have come out this week to attack Bettman at a time when their careers and livelihoods are in jeopardy. Someone needs to remind them that they don’t own teams – they just play the game and are INCREDIBLY well paid to play the game to boot. Is any reader on HTR going to cry if Kris Draper or Shane Doan (or any other player) has to take a 10% cut? Not me. They play a childs game and are paid better than rock stars to do it. Their entitlement is shameful.


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