The NHL lockout (2012 edition) is now threatening to more or less dismember the league entirely, and while we could argue about which side is to blame for the impending loss of another season, there is one fact that is clear: high-end, superstar contracts are responsible for causing this labor stoppage in the first place.
I can just imagine general managers and team owners sitting in the dark corner of their offices as free agency looms, twitching like junkies-in-waiting to throw money at players like Alexander Ovechkin and Zach Parise. They just can't help themselves.
Never mind the long-term repercussions of inking superstars to contracts that could very well out-survive team management, coaches, and nearly every other player on the team. Or the fact that signing players to $100 million contracts may not be good for business.
And, as it turns out, it hasn't been good for business. Because suddenly the owners don't have the money to honor the deals they gave to players like Ryan Suter, Marian Hossa or Dan Briere. Suddenly they are so strapped for cash that they are willing to lose another entire season of professional hockey, and perhaps even kill the league itself, to get out of the contracts they agreed to in good faith.
Make no mistake about it: This labor dispute isn't about the everyman hockey player. This isn't about Dan Cleary or Andrew Brunette. This isn't about Martin Biron or Brian Boucher, the muckers and the grinders and the guys that lay down in front of shot after shot during their 7 minutes of game time.
The lockout is about the superstars, and the obsessed, clueless owners that don't have the sense not to sabotage themselves and poison the game with their greed and selfishness. I don't blame the players for signing long-term, lucrative deals. But at the same time, I don't see Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis fighting tooth and nail to raise the minimum contract floor for the guys on the third and fourth lines. I see them fighting to keep their own ridiculous deals.
Here are the ten contracts you can blame for the lockout.