Over this past weekend, Krys Barch hit Twitter hard with his alcohol-amplified views of the NHL lockout. Barch is a 32-year-old enforcer who signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils this summer after playing with the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers in 2011-2012.
The lockout is a result of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the owners and NHL Players Association. This CBA was signed after the previous lockout that cancelled the entirety of the 2004-05 NHL season.
Without going into the overwhelming details of the CBA, explaining the lockout in a simple manner comes down to reviewing what seems to be the most major issue: Who deserves the money the players bring in?
Essentially the NHL and team owners want to cut player salaries by reducing every contract’s value.
So the NHL—a business that is only successful if the highly talented players draw interest to the game—wants those players to be given less of that business’ money.
Additionally, the NHL team owners, who signed the player contracts with the specific dollar amounts listed, want all of those numbers to become smaller, as if to put a “reset” button on these financial commitments.
Barch’s emotions and thoughts revealed themselves in a 26-tweet discourse, included below in full. Grammar and form corrections have been made to increase readability. Author emphasis placed on key points.
I sit here from Gand Bend, Ontario putting a pen to my heart and writing on paper what bleeds out. My name is Krys Barch. I have played approximately 5.5 years in the NHL and have worked for every second of it. I haven't been a first round pick, bonus baby or a son of a Hall-of-Famer. I have made it through sweating, bleeding, cut Achilles (tendons), broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, eight teeth knocked out, etc.
I sit in front of a fire, eight OV deep and starting a bottle of Porte that will assist in the translations of my emotions to words! No different than a truck driver, farmer, or line worker, I have a shot and a beer; not to deal with the days ahead, but to ease the nerves from what my body has endured the days before. I sit here with both my boys sleeping and my wife due with our third, my thoughts racing on what I can conquer tomorrow to get our family ahead, sometimes wondering if I should have existed when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems. I feel the Wild West would more simplified than the world we live in now where an employer who makes billions of dollars and a league with record revenues can tell me that I can't do the things that my heart tells my me to do! All what my heart tells me to do far surpasses what my body has endured. As I write this I dive deeper and deeper into my bottle of Porte giving wider views to the depths of my heart.
As my pen warms from the fire, Neil Young and a fall Canadian night, I wonder how this work stoppage affects the owners? I wonder if the owners of Boston, New York, Washington, etc., have endured any of the injuries that I or any other player in the NHL has endured. Still they probably sit their smoking the same brand of cigar, sipping the same cognac, and going on vacation to one of five houses they own, while we sit here knowing they want to take 20% of our paychecks. One half to three-quarters of my peers will have to work for the next 50 years of their lives. Congratulations to the lucky select few that I have played with who have made salaries that they can choose to do whatever they want when they are done, but I have played most who do not!
If the NHL wants to teams in the south or struggling markets, then the players along with the financially well-to-do teams need to start working together. Or they need to start to move teams to the North where they will make money.
The system allows the owners to continually take money from the players, contract after contract, where eventually over 40 some years the owners will have 80% of revenue. The only way to stop the work stoppages long into the future is fix the root cause of the problems. The lockout is a procedure to take from the players to pay for the NHL mistakes. Let not allow the NHL to make any more mistakes. Let the league and the players to come together to fix the mistakes that have been made and make sure none are made in the future.
Let's get a deal where the owners, players, and fans benefit from…Where we can be sitting around in beautiful Canadian falls around a fire playing and watching the game we love. Here's to the truth and our next conversation. As always speaking from my heart! Goodnight! Like me or hate me I speak what comes from my heart!
The key point here is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of the 30 NHL teams, who are collectively locking out the players, have not gone through the type of physical and mental effort and exertion that Barch and his coworkers have.
Philadelphia Flyers captain Chris Pronger is still feeling the effects of a concussion sustained last season. He has not been on the ice for months because of this physical condition, but this is the person the NHL is attempting to compensate less.
Meanwhile, during those games, NHL executives and team owners sit in luxury boxes, wearing thousand-dollar suits and free from fear of physical injury with long-term effects.
It might seem frivolous that Barch, who has a job playing a sport that most fans would drive to the local rink and pay a “stick time” fee to play, is complaining about his working conditions. However, the NHL is a lucrative business and that money has to go somewhere.
Bettman has not fought in the NHL more than 100 times like Barch has. Bettman has not scored goals in the NHL. Bettman rarely brings more than 15,000 NHL fans to their feet when he enters an arena.
In fact, he has an overwhelmingly negative reception among NHL fans. As for the owners, do you (the fan), even know the name of your team’s owner? Is he the reason you buy your team’s merchandise and tickets? Do Flyers fans wear a “Snyder 67” jersey to the games or a “Giroux 28” jersey?
Ever see someone with a “I Love Gary Bettman” shirt?
For the 2011-12 NHL season, Bettman had a $7.98 million salary while Barch earned $750,000.
If anyone can find logic in the two videos included in this article that explains why Barch is receiving 10 percent of what Bettman takes, please elaborate.
Jason Sapunka is a former NHL Featured Columnist who has won several Top Writer awards from Bleacher Report. He is available for hockey-related updates, analysis, and commentary on Twitter.