Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

Normally, during the course of any given season, I occasionally write articles like this because it gives me a chance to observe the goings on of the NHL and offer my views on trade rumors, most of which usually involve the star player of the moment headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a pile of dirty jockstraps and an autographed Anders Eriksson sock. Apparently, I can’t do that this year. All I can do is drum up more of the idiocy regarding the lack of the greatest sport on earth – trust me, there’s a lot of it.

“SILENT” BOB? ESCHE: BETTMAN A “MADMAN” – Philadelphia Daily News

Flyers’ goaltender Robert Esche, who nabbed the “Silent Bob” moniker this past spring when declining to talk to the press during the playoffs, sounded off about the job he thinks Gary Bettman is doing in his capacity as NHL commissioner. Esche stated that the players association is “talking to a madman…a guy who has no rhyme or reason. Personally, I don’t even think he’s a fan of the game. I think that there are a lot of great owners out there, but there is a madman leading them down the wrong path, and unfortunately, we have no control over what is going on right now.” Predictably, Bob Goodenow pseudo-distanced himself from the player, saying that “characterizations can become overstated.”

My take: Boy, somebody’s finger must have broken through the paper this morning. This caught me by surprise. The usually reserved Esche is not the type of player you hear this kind of thing from. His assertion that the players have “no control” is endemic of the problem at hand. The players desperately want to retain the control they’ve had over the past decade. The animals want to run the zoo. As for Bettman, I stand by my belief that he’s just doing his job. If it weren’t Bettman, it would be someone else being referred to as “mad.” Besides, if there are “a lot of great owners out there,” why isn’t there a solution to this problem? I think that Esche must have had dinner at the Chelios household. Speaking of Chelios…

CHELIOS: GRETZ FOR COMMISH – www.tsn.ca

Not one to mince words when it comes to Gary Bettman, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios called for the immediate ouster of the NHL commissioner. While not a great shock, when asked who would be good for the job, He Who Hates Furniture nominated Hall of Fame player and current managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes, Wayne Gretzky: “He’s the one guy that everybody should listen to. He’s been the best ambassador for any sport and I think the guys should listen to him. I hope (Bettman) is getting together with Wayne one-on-one and talking to Wayne. Everyone respects what Wayne says. I think he’s got a great business sense, and, I think, because of his experience, his history with hockey, he outweighs Gary Bettman or Bob Goodenow by a long shot.” In response, the Coyotes released a statement saying that Gretzky is “a big supporter of Gary Bettman and thinks Gary is doing a great job.”

My take: I would hate to play word association with Chelios. When he hears a word like “pencil,” his response would probably be “Thursday, asparagus, formica.” Admittedly, I’ve never been a Chelios fan, but the guy is bordering on insane. I almost want Gretzky to become commissioner just so Chelios can choke to death on crow. I can see it now:

“Hey, Wayne! Great, you finally got the job. Let’s get back to playing some hockey.”

“Sure, Chris. Just as soon as you put on this nifty salary cap. Me and the other owners had it made especially for you.”

BROOKS: PLAYERS ARE RIGHT, GIVE THEM EVERYTHING THEY WANT – New York Post

In yet another thinly-veiled attempt to win favor amongst the NHL players for the sole purpose of furthering his own career, Larry Brooks again lashed out at the commissioner, owners, and even the Canadian media for perpetuating the “big business operating with all the arrogance of the powerful and wealthy.” This past Sunday’s article

tries to paint the players as being “held hostage” by a “greedy cartel” of “industrialists and monopolists” who care about nothing more than “a money grab of staggering proportions.” Brooks tries to break down the Levitt report (which he calls a “smokescreen”) as “one theoretical amalgamation” of “thirty individual enterprises.” He goes on to say that the NHLPA’s “cause is a righteous one,” painting them as “good” against the “evil” owners.

My take: Brooksie must have spent some extra time thumbing though his thesaurus Saturday night. As usual, he lost me with his opening statement: “This is the time for an association of skilled professionals to become a union of trade laborers…” In trying to sound like Karl Marx, Larry sounds more like Harpo Marx. Brooks cheaply attempts to make the players out to be the victims, equating them with the everyday working man fighting against big business. This strategy would have worked if his subject matter had been electricians or pipefitters or plumbers. Sorry, Larry. When the “average working man” is pulling down seven figures, they don’t get any sympathy.

PICKING SCABS: RAY, OTHERS WOULD “CROSS THE LINE” – www.tsn.ca

When the subject of playing again in the NHL as a possible replacement player, former tough guy Rob Ray said that he would indeed “cross the line” and get back to the game. Ray also stated that he knows “about 10 guys who would be ahead of me and these guys are 10 current NHL players.” Ray went on to say that he does not support a salary cap-based CBA, and that upper-tier players are the ones who will benefit from the re-negotiation, not role players. “I went through this whole thing in 1994 when I was making $300,000 US. They got a deal done and I thought I was going to cash in big time. Well, I went from making $300,000 to $350,000. Big deal. Really, it’s the role players on the team who are going to get screwed in all of this. Guys like Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara are going to get their money. Players like Chris Neil and Shaun Van Allen are going to get (bleeped). They don’t stand to gain anything from this.”

My take: It’s only Rob Ray, but he does bring up good points. There are many that believe that Bob Goodenow is only acting on the behalf of players who make gobs of money, while younger, cheaper, role players get harshly chastised for speaking their minds. As for being a replacement, does anybody want to pay current NHL ticket prices to see a washed up Rob Ray? Didn’t think so.

NFL PLAYERS: CAP AIN’T SO BAD – www.espn.com

While fending off cost certainty in September, NHLPA director Bob Goodenow made a claim that the National Football League players do not like their current CBA and the salary cap associated with it: “I can tell you this, we have not spoken to any NFL players that endorse their system.” Apparently, Goodenow and his people listen very selectively. When asked about the subject, members of the Miami Dolphins expressed their satisfaction with the current landscape in the NFL. Defensive end Tim Bowens said: “All teams, when you line up every Sunday, the amount of talent on each team is about equal and you know as a football player that anybody can win. In training camp, you know anybody can win the Super Bowl. To me and I think to the fans, it’s important to know that each team has a chance to be competitive. The salary cap allows that to happen.” Said cornerback Sam Madison: “The salary cap’s been a good move – it keeps things from getting out of control like hockey. It hinders some players and it helps others, but the good thing is it’s helped the game.” Fullback Rob Konrad, who uses his business degree from Syracuse to manage the accounts of some NHL players, says that “After studying it the last couple years, I think [the salary cap’s] a good system and I like what we’ve done. So I think the cap is fair as long as it’s regulated and as long as it’s moved percentagewise with the revenues that are coming in.”

My take: Of course these responses are refuted by Ted Saskin and Goodenow, because they don’t mix well with their brand of Kool Aid. The fact remains that major sports leagues that have salary caps are alive and well, while hockey’s players refuse to see the possibility that it might be the best thing for them.

That’s it for now, can’t say when the next edition will be. Release the hounds!