NHL Lockout: What If the Canadians Were in Control Instead of Gary Bettman?
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While those of us here on the East Coast hunker down for Hurricane Sandy to hit, we have all turned to social media to communicate and stay in touch...until the power goes out. One of my hardcore NHL buddies, Pat Shafer, sent me this from Puck Daddy detailing the looming deadline for the Winter Classic.
The article and subsequent conversation with Patrick got me thinking: Would the 2012 Lockout have happened if the Canadians were running the show?
Why have some slick New York lawyer who has no love for the game overseeing the negotiations?
I have to believe that Canadians, because this is their game, their nation's passion, would never have allowed this lockout to happen. Imagine having a commissioner who actually played the game, even if it was just as a kid who grew up playing pond hockey in Saskatchewan.
That person would have found a way to fix the huge gap between the NHL and the NHLPA and we would be playing hockey today. Instead we are watching our players trickle over to European leagues to keep their skills sharp and give Gary Bettman something to think about.
Gary Bettman is basically a corporate attorney whose job it is to keep the money flowing and the owners happy. Many have seen the comments in social media about this being a battle of billionaires vs. millionaires. While many of us couldn't fathom having that kind of money, from a players perspective they have a finite number of years to make their mark and their livelihood in this game.
Owners on the other hand, aren't necessarily in this for the love of the game (or the fans), they are in it for the money. Many of them have decades in as owners and want a bigger and bigger return on their investment.
Am I possibly being a bit cynical? Yes, but I have been reading Career Misconduct by Mark Weinberg so forgive me if I am not too ticked at the NHLPA. For those not familiar with the book, it details the history of "Dollar Bill" Wirtz, former owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and one of the dirtiest and most corrupt individuals in Chicago. (That is saying something.)
So, sit and mull it over for a while—would a Canadian have unapologetically allowed this to be done to his game? Would the Canadian people have made their voices heard in places like Toronto, Montreal and in particular Vancouver?
For the sake of the game, do we need to rethink the structure of the NHL? Be more critical of allowing just anyone to take the reins of the NHL? Have some specific criteria for our next commissioner?
Discuss before the Winter Classic gets cancelled...and my power goes out. Because the NHL's light is about to go out as well, for the rest of the season.
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