Saturday, December 11, 2004

MORE REACTION TO THE NHLPA OFFER

THE OFFICIAL LOCKOUT WEEK-IN-REVIEW COLUMN FOR THIS WEEK

I've been reading the papers and the consensus out there seems to be that the NHLPA's proposal was brilliant. It may not solve the lockout problem, but it sure makes the players look like geniuses and heroes--- this after several months of looking like overpaid bums.

I read the Globe and Mail editorial page and they thought it was a great proposal that would solve a lot of problems. I read Al Strachan and he, too, thought it was a great proposal. I tuned into Kathryn Humphreys on Citytv and she thought it was such a great proposal- then again, isn't she married to a hockey player? I'm reading all these hockey writers and they all agree--- this proposal was brilliant. Too brilliant, maybe, but brilliant nonetheless.

I was wondering how they were going to effect a 24% rollback of player salaries and I finally figured it out: these NHL contracts are apparently not guaranteed, unlike the NBA or major league baseball. So they can roll back salaries, no problem. That's why you see stories about baseball and basketball players being confused about the NHL players offering a 24% rollback of salaries. It's mindboggling; to these other pros, this looks like the biggest sellout of all time.

(UPDATE- You know what, I've done more digging and it's the NFL who has the non-guaranteed contracts. So now I'm completely baffled by the NHL players move. How are they going to be able to renegotiate all of these freaking contracts? Beats me. I need to look into these contracts.)

And apparently from what I am gleaning, the NHL players aren't happy about this either, but they've clearly taken a huge beating in this labour dispute from the press and public and this offer may be their only way out. These are huge concessions and I don't think the NHL is going to get a better offer than this from the players, because the players are TICKED. So what do I think? I think there will be a counter-proposal. For sure. Maybe, hopefully, the NHL team owners will go for a shorter-term deal, based on these terms. Certainly this could divide the hawks and the non-hawks in ownership into two camps, forcing Bettman into some major maneuvering. So the dance continues.

Like I say, it's hard for me to believe these goofballs will kill the entire freaking season. This NHLPA proposal makes cancellation look like an absolutely suicidal move by the NHL. Anyway, we'll see. It won't be long, now, before we know the fate of the season.

BRENDAN SHANAHAN'S PROPOSALS TO IMPROVE THE GAME

One thing I should also mention because I've sort of ignored it this week: Brendan Shanahan's big hockey summit to improve the game. They've come up with all sorts of recommendations, the main one being to bring in a shootout in regular season action. I actually favor shootouts in regular season games; they've worked in the minor leagues and they're really exciting. I don't want them for the playoffs, though: the great thing about the NHL playoffs has always been its "marathon" type of nature, with players playing until they drop. So I'd still have them play in the playoffs until they'd drop, and bring in the shootouts for the regular season. You know, I'll bet ya this is another part of the big PR spin strategy of the NHLPA- part of the strategy to make these guys look like a bunch of heroes. Call me cynical, but I am a cynic- the timing was pretty suspicious. Still, I'd welcome any improvements to the NHL. One improvement I'd like to see: to get the players back on the ice.

Interestingly I'm still hearing a lot of talk on the radio about people who claim they don't even miss Hockey Night in Canada. I don't fall into this category: I truly miss Hockey Night in Canada, for one reason: the TV on Saturday night is garbage! All the other channels have JUNK until 11:30, when Saturday Night Live comes on. The alternatives on Saturday nights are terrible: there's COPS, and there's AMERICA'S MOST WANTED. There's TVO's Saturday Night at the Movies! And on CBC you can watch DISNEY features! That's entertainment!! Hey I like movies like everyone else, but I've seen half this stuff already, I don't need to watch it again. And kids movies aren't my idea of entertainment!

What's surprising is that I don't give a hoot about the NHL the rest of the week. I just don't. It's really surprising how little I've missed the NHL. On Friday nights when I usually tune in to sports on the radio, I've been tuning into lots of AHL and OHL games, so I don't feel like I'm missing a thing. In fact, there's an AHL Baby Leafs game on right now. So I'm not missing a thing. Right?!?

Anyway, there you go, my NHL rant for the week. I'll probably have a lot more to say on Tuesday when the league gives its response to the NHLPA proposal. I have a sneaky feeling we're going to see a lot of negotiations this week.

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