Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Lockout -- Another Lost Season

"We'll stay united just to knock the smirk off his face"

Finally, a usable quote from a sports figure that is NOT a cliche'.
Finally, a usable quote from a sports figure that expresses true emotion, and paints an accurate picture of the current situation.

The players are finally saying what I've been wishing for for at least a decade now ... fire Gary Bettman !!

It's not what he says ... once in a while he actually answers a question properly but most of the time he spits out lawyer gibberish to avoid confrontation.
It's not how he says it ... most of the time he's very calm and says things matter of factly, like everybody should have already known the answer to that question.
The body language and the look on his face while he's answering a question ... now that's a horse of a different color.  With his head tilted back slightly, nose up in the air just enough for him to look down it at you, with the subtle hint of a grin on his face, he'll spit out anything he wants to satisfy the interviewer, yet never answer the question ... lawyer gibberish.

If Bettman wants to hold onto his job he's going to have to do the following:
#1 - accept the fact the players want to be more involved with the financial health of the team they play for.
#2 - whip out some hard core facts as to why each team is in it's current financial state.  Show the players some charts & graphs with real numbers on them, and show them what cutting their salaries again will do to equally balance the budgets of all 30 teams.
#3 - he'll have to do this without a smirk on his face or attitude in his voice or lawyer bullshit running out of his mouth.
That means he'll have to treat them as equals and I don't think it's in his DNA to do that.  Consider yet another season lost.

"Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results"

Yep ... we've gotten to the point where we can call the owners actions insane.  Using the lockout as a tool to make the players cave into what they want has been used before and, according to the owners themselves, the last CBA was a compromise, not well structured, and has to be fixed ... hence the different results.  This time with no owner compromise.  It's my way or the highway.
I don't know about you but, the last time my boss gave me that option I told him to fuck off ... on principle alone ... not caring about where my next job or paycheck would come from.

Bettman now finds himself in the same situation Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in.  Mitt has failed to explain, in detail, how he's going to eliminate the massive debt this country has amassed thanks to 2 micro wars little Bush felt were necessary.  Mr. Romney needs to tell the people which tax loopholes he's going to eliminate that will help the middle class and not make the top 1% even wealthier than they already are.  He also needs to explain how dumping the "burden" of  Medicade on the individual states will help bring down Federal taxes but NOT INCREASE State taxes.
Gary has to explain to the players (in plain english) why its a good idea to take away another 7% to 10% of their salaries, and he needs to show them how it's going to help the Phoenixes and the Floridas and the Dallases of the league and NOT the Maple Leafs or Canadians or Rangers etc.

Sure, it's a situation of players that make millions, fighting with owners that make billions, over an equal share of an industry that GROSSES $3.3 billion.  What Gary has to do is show the players where every penny of the owner's half goes and why taking a pay cut would save the existance of the NHL.  He won't do that because he can't.  The players feel (as do most of fans this time around) that the owners cut is large enough. They just need to redistribute it differently and spend it more wisely, realizing that it (money) is in limited quantity.

Considering he is a former player, I am both surprised and dissapointed in the deafening silence coming from one Mario Lemieux.  I don't know how large or small a piece of the Penguins he actually owns but, considering he's been on both sides of the negotiating fence, you'd think he would be more actively involved ... more visible ... more hands on ... maybe even try to be the voice of reason at the negotiating table.  If anybody could explain the owners situation to the players, it would be him.  I don't understand the silence.

I am not a panicky person.  I don't run around screaming "the sky is falling !" just because the last bit of milk in the fridge went bad.  If anything, I'm the opposite.  I'm quite calm and have a tendancy to over-think things.  Knowing the CBA was going to expire in September, I prepared myself for the worst when it became July and no negotiations had taken place.  As July became August and the Red Wings roster wasn't filled with superstar free agents I really got suspicious and knew there was CBA trouble ahead.

"Oh, To Be A Fly On The Wall ..."

As I read the plethora of articles posted on line about the negotiation sessions, I try to put myself in the same room as the players and owners when reading them ... I try to remove myself as a fan and see things from their perspectives.  At this point, both sides look desperate and disorganized. Both are doing a lot of posturing and chest thumping while accomplishing nothing.  Why not sort out one issue at a time until the entire CBA has been re-written ??  Both sides are trying to railroad each other into an agreement that could be favorable to themselves and, because of the mistrust on both sides, none of the proposals have been accepted.  Taking time to explain and compromise on one element per day would eventually lead to a completed CBA that both sides will be happy with and won't cause anger or resentment when it expires and the 2 sides have to return to the table to hammer out another CBA.

Yeah, I know resolving just Hockey Related Revenue could take 6 months all by itself, but if they discuss things on a daily basis (like it was a real job) not bitch at each other for just a few hours every other week, then something my actually get done.

Once again the owners are satisfied with using the lockout as a negotiating tool because they have other sources of income.  Take Mr. I for example.  Every time there is a concert at JLA or Fox Theatre or someone walks into a Little Ceasars and orders 2 pizzas instead of just 1 ... cha-CHING !!  One less hockey game to worry about.  The deeper into the playoffs the Tigers go, the less he worries about cancelled Red Wings games.  Hopefully, the other business people that have invested in a hockey team see it for what it is ... as a game or hobby, and not an investment they'll make a ton of money on.

When you lump the NHL in with the other 5 major sports here in the USA, the NHL will always be the ugly step-sister.  You can't do an Apples to Apples comparison with MLB or the NBA or the NFL or the PGA or even Major League Soccer for that matter.  You could also say the NHL takes a 'back seat' to NASCAR in most states here in the US.  Hockey in the United States is not a money maker and shouldn't be looked at as such. Just ask the fine people at ESPN what they think of hockey.

It might be a different story if the owners were to realize just how much alike they and the players are.  Both love the game with all of their heart and soul ... both are competitive as hell and hate to lose ... both think winning the Stanley Cup is the end all be all in their lives.  Take those similarities and bring them to the negotiating table and slap something together so everyone can get back to enjoying the best sport in the world.

Screwing over the fans is a baaa-aaa-aaa-aad thing...

The longer the lockout lasts, the more difficult it is for the fans to sympathize with either side.  You can let the sheep wander just so far away from the flock before they've wandered off too far, never to return.  Where do we as fans draw that line ?  When is enough enough ??  I am a patient man when it comes to other peoples conflicts.  This in no way has any effect on my financial situation so I could give two shits what they do.  I would have to assume that most of us in the Detroit market would draw that line at The Winter Classic.  If the owners & players screw that up then just shame on them.  All of that emotion and promotion, all of that TV coverage, all of those player phone calls to put together Alumni games, all of those mended fences ... it all goes down the crapper because some owners lose money and some don't.

Well boo-fuckin'-hoo you rich bastards.  If you can't see hockey for what it really is then you don't deserve to be an owner.  Come Jan.1, 2013 if there is still no NHL hockey being played then that's it for me ... I'm out ... I'm done ... time to burn the t-shirts and sweat shirts and hats and blankets and car flags.  To me, Jan. 1st has become the "point of no return". Where do you draw the line ??  What is your point of no return ??