The More Things Change…

It was interesting to watch the docu-drama Net Worth today. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Bravo decided to air it, given the current climate in the professional hockey world today. Now, having seen it for the third or fourth time, it suddenly came to me. Nothing in the state of hockey has changed.I know stating something like this is going to get a lot of people all upset. Well, that’s not exactly difficult here anyway, but that’s a different story. Anyhow, after listening to it more than actually watching it, I heard the same basic arguments put forth in the movie that we all hear in the press today. The issues are different on the players’ side, but the arguments on both sides are the same. When Ted Lindsay made his first attempt at forming a players’ association, he was seeking access to the pension plan and health benefits for players. The owners’ position was that the teams weren’t making any money on the league, and that they couldn’t afford to give the players what they were asking for.

That last part sound familiar?

It’s the same basic argument being propagated to anyone and everyone within earshot. Only they add the words “to continue” to the sentence. The players’ union doesn’t trust what the owners are saying any more than they ever did since Alan Eagleson formed the PA. And he was screwing the players himself, so throw that in there too. And anyone who has any kind of accounting or financial knowledge knows the difference between a paper loss and an actual loss.

But there was one speech that really wrapped the whole thing up. In the movie, Jack Adams made a speech in the Red Wings dressing room, asking the players what they really wanted. Did they really want to fight over a few dollars, at the risk of losing their careers, their dreams? At that point, Adams turned to Gordie Howe and asked him what he wanted to do. He answered that he just wanted to play hockey.

In today’s league, the lowest guys on the NHL pay scale still make more money than Lindsay, Howe, Doug Harvey and the players of that era ever made in their entire careers. But I wonder if you asked that same question of today’s players, how many would answer it the way Gordie did in the movie. I believe that the majority of them share the same opinion. Somewhere deep within them, some small part of them has chosen to do this because they just want that opportunity to live that dream, a dream we would all love to fulfill. If they didn’t, they’d retire after their first multi-million dollar contract.

I know some people will call me na├»ve, gullible, and just plain stupid for thinking this way, or even admitting it. Then fire away. Give me both barrels. But maybe, just maybe, I’m right. Maybe they do love playing the game more than we think they do, more than even they think they do. And if that’s true, maybe we will see a hockey season in 2004, however long or short.

5 Responses to The More Things Change…

  1. Aetherial says:

    Yes, sorry, you are naive.

    The players do NOT just want to play hockey. Most are easily millionaires already and are simply greedy.

    This does not mean the owners are *right* either… just that times have changed and hockey players are infected now with the same greed that affects the rest of western society.

  2. wingedim says:

    I think that deep down the players just want to play hockey. Proof of that is the number that are jumping ship to play in Europe after the CBA expires in 6 days. However, each player loves the fact that they are getting paid what they are. If there are those players who really just want to play, they won’t say so for fear of how hard the union will come down on them. I’m sure there are some in the union who would welcome any resolution so that there is a season, but they are the minority and therefore not heard because of everyone else.

  3. TheCoach says:

    I definately think that the majority of hockey players just want to play. Maybe not the high-priced all-stars, but most of the league is composed of middle class players. For example the Mike Fisher’s of the world. The players who make between 1 and 3 million will not be greatly affected if the league locks out. They won’t lose millions. They may lose a few thousands, but it’s not like that will make a huge difference to them. They would lose much more by not playing in the NHL.

    I am still of the opinion, that if the Union held a silent vote between all the members, there would be a salary cap in place by October.

    Unfortunately, I do not think that Bob Goodenow and Ted Saskin are listening to the players. They have their own agenda, and that is to beat Gary Bettman.

    Case in point, when Jeremy Roenick came out with his idea of a salary cap system, the NHLPA released a statement saying that they and their members do not view that idea. Hey guys, Roenick is part of your union!

    Not only that, but if they go ahead and not make proposals or continuw to reject the league’s proposals, they will hurt their members. If there is a lockout, many knowledgeable people have stated that 2, 3, 4 or even 5 teams may contract. What does that mean for the players? Hundreds of less jobs.

    Goodenow will not only hurt the league by playing this charade, but he will hurt hundreds of members of his union. They will be jobless, and not many hockey players have a great education. And these relatively unknown players, cannot just find jobs because of their names. The majority does not know that they play in the league.

  4. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Ahh. Excellent movie. I own a copy actually. You can get it at Walmart. It is only ten bucks. I enjoy watching it, befor descussions on the CBA.

  5. nelsog says:

    The fact of the matter is that the NHL is a the brink of doom unlike any other lockout in sports history. If the owners and players don’t come to an agreement the NHL will cease to be (at least the NHL we know) and North American hockey will suffer a huge loss.

    We have all been watching the World Cup these past weeks and to many it should bring up the point that there is a huge desire for hockey in Europe. A desire that has always quenched itself with players that have not made it in the NHL or were never given a chance. Imagine the desire if the Europeans were given back their native stars and North American stars. These teams may not be able to pay what the NHL has been but as the writer of the article brought up guys just want to play hockey. If you can play hockey and get paid more than any other job you could get who would not take this deal? (Maybe Malakhov- but that’s a seperate story)

    Professional sport lockouts in the past have been a bit different from the current situation in hockey since the worldwide support for the support was different. When baseball locked out the only real outlet for them to go was Japan. Now I know that baseball is huge in Latin America but the reality is that these areas do not have the financial means (or security) to draw American players down there. Hypothetically, if football was to lockout the NFL owners would be in the power position. There is no worldwide outlet for football players. Sure Canada and Europe have leagues but not the desire for the sport to support an elite league with large salaries. The point of this is to demonstrate that most major North American pro sports do not have the worldwide draw to threaten the existence of a league like hockey does and so the players are usually attacking uphill.

    If a sustain lockout occurs European players will play in Europe and so will North American players. Europe will have the elite teams and HOCKEYHEAD WILL HAVE TO GO TO DUSSELDORF TO SEE JOE THORNTON PLAY. I WILL BECOME A NURNBERG KNIGHTS FAN. The owners must realize the situation in the hockey world and the situation they created. Teams like the Rangers and Red Wings giving exorbitant salaries to players has caused the rise in every players salary since there worth is based on a comparison to these players. For the first time I’ve seen the owners are at a disadvantage in the negotiations. If they don’t give into players demands then they will lose them and their whole investment in a team. We will lose the elite hockey teams in the world and watch dilluded hockey where the best players are spread out in different leagues. Does this help anyone except the players?

    Sure we like to make fun of player’s greed but it was owners who created this situation, not the players. The players are only looking for the value of their product as concluded by other players contracts if you look at in Marxist terms. Suck it up owners, did you really buy 10%, 5%, 25% of a team to earn money or a tax write off? Don’t you make enough money on real estate investment, software, hocking crap? You are now caught in the grip of your own monster and must do as it advises before you destroy the best hockey league in the world.

    This is pretty long for a post maybe I’ll put it up for an article.

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