...I've decided the big winners in the NHL lockout are the equipment companies and the ones who make the jerseys. All those new European sweaters.
And the rest of Europe.
I think what I saw someone say on Puck Daddy is right - when Sid goes to Europe, then the NHL will finally say, oh, shit. This isn't good. Maybe we should make an effort to end this!
NHL players leaving for Europe on a daily basis tells me they're planning on a long lockout. The fact that guys were going over there pretty much the minute the doors slammed shut tells me they've known that all along.
Geno (at least I win championship in Russia!) Malkin left almost immediately. Alex (at least here they appreciate me) Semin went. Alex (I am the greatest!) Ovechkin is long gone. Jaromir (I own my own team in the Czech Republic, suckas!) Jagr left.
And now Danny (I don't want to leave my kids) Briere and Claude (wait for me, Danny!) Giroux are going. So is Henrik (I can't afford the insurance and anyway Don Fehr needs me) Zetterburg.
Only Sid, the Staal Clone Army, the Oiler kids, the Stanley Cup champions, and the majority of the Chicago Blackhawks are still here, it seems. (And yes, it sucks for the fourth liners who are stuck staying here with nothing to do but train, and I don't mean to ignore them, but this situation isn't about them, really. It's about the owners spending money they don't have on stupid contracts and then freaking out about it. And they're not spending it on the fourth liners.) When Kane and Toews go, when Sharpy and Duncs and Keith go, then we'll know for sure there's not going to be a season this year. (I personally think Tazer is keeping them all here by sheer force of will.) If Steve Montador goes, it'll be all over for sure.
Allegedly it would cost Sid $400k in insurance to play in Europe. If he can figure something out and sign with somebody over there, then maybe the owners will come to their senses. Business as usual, the same old negotiating tactics, are not going to cut it this time.
I think the players went into this thing determined to win. They wouldn't have hired Don Fehr if they didn't mean it. I think they're perfectly willing to sacrifice the season, because they think if they lose, nothing will change and we'll be doing this again in five years, when they will again lose. They also hate Bettman with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns and are still pissed about 2004-2005, even the guys who were in middle school at the time.
I believe the League when they say they were willing to negotiate during the spring and summer, but Fehr wasn't. He knew the owners were determined to lock the players out, and he knew if that happened, it was a PR win for the players. They can say all they want that they're willing to play and negotiate at the same time, and I'm sure they are, but they knew full well that the owners would never let that happen. (Because the owners are stupid, stubborn bullies who think the players are expendable, replaceable cattle, for the most part. And because they think they need the leverage. And because they won last time, and they think the minute escrow runs out and the players aren't getting paid, the players will start fighting among themselves and cave. Which they won't, because Donald Fehr won't let them, even if the want to. Which is why they hired him.) Anyway, this makes the players look better than the owners.
Donald Fehr is not there to negotiate a settlement. He's there to win, to keep the players unified, and to keep them from giving in this time. Players bolting for Europe, to my mind, is him and the NHLPA saying to the owners, go ahead, lock us out. There are plenty of other places to play hockey. We don't need you. (I think they're wrong in the longterm, obviously, but in the short term, I think it's brilliant.)
In the paper copy of SI that I got last week, there's not one mention of hockey. Not a list of who's gone to Europe, not a mention of the cancelled games, not one word. As far as ESPN is concerned, hockey doesn't actually exist. Except for hockey fans, and Canada, no one cares about the NHL. Certainly not anyone in the US who isn't already a fan. The President of the United States weighed in on the NFL officials lockout. He probably isn't even aware that the NHL isn't playing.
Both the owners and players should get over themselves and realize they're not as important as they think they are. The owners especially. As shown, the players can find other places to play. Replacement players would be a disaster - I love hockey at any level, but I'm not playing NHL prices for ECHL talent. The owners are going to shoot themselves in the foot, big time. They're going to fuck up their sport and make it even more marginalized than it already is. This isn't the way to "grow the sport." And if it's just a small part of your business empire, or a tax write-off, I guess that's okay. It sure seems stupid and short-sighted to me, though. And the timing really sucks.
This isn't the way to make hockey more popular in the non-traditional hockey markets that Bettman has been determined to populate with NHL teams. There's college football and NFL football and basketball and the baseball playoffs and who needs hockey?
Non-traditional hockey markets aren't bad in and of themselves. There are junior programs and players in Dallas, in LA, in places where hockey has grown. But it's not going to happen if you keep INTERRUPTING THINGS WITH LOCKOUTS AND LABOR DISPUTES.
I get that a lot of teams are losing money. Maybe the cap floor has something to do with that, hmmm?? By forcing teams to spend money they don't have, and allowing the richer teams to essentially say too bad, so sad, the League is just being stupid. Dear Nashville, you are losing money, you're located in TENNESSEE, but by god, you have to pay way more money than you take in just to keep Shea Weber in town.
The players have made concessions, but the League wants more. Which is part of the problem, and part of the baggage from 2005. The League has admitted that its initial offer was a mistake. Instead of being seen as a place to begin negotiating, it was seen as an attack, and only alienated and solidified the players even more. So then they made concessions to get to a much more reasonable place, but by then the players were like, fuck you. Here's our proposal, you address the issues that are responsible for this happening again and again, or we're out of here.
ESPN is snickering up its sleeve at being able to poke the NHL by showing KHL games.
I'm pretty solidly in the player's corner on this one, but make no mistake. They are more interested in winning than they are in playing this season. Partly out of a sincere desire for long-lasting labor peace, and partly out of a desire for both revenge and not being bested by the owners yet again.
And this sounds like I'm all philosophical and fine with it all, which of course I'm not. I think it's embarrassing and ridiculous and they all of them, including Don Fehr, need to look around and see that this is *not* a major sport, and it never will be if this kind of shit keeps happening.
And there's my further take on the lockout. At this point in time, anyway. :)