Having played the great sport of hockey for several years, and at several different levels, I feel compelled to remind my professional hockey playing counterparts of where they come from.
First, let me explain I’m no fantastic hockey talent, hence I am a writer. I don’t exactly expect someone to take my words to heart, but merely to think about them. I know all those who have played will agree, and probably many who wish they had and are just die hard fans, with what I have to say.
Lately it seems to me that the real talents, the real players worth having on a team, have become a minority. I remember the days of the amazing rosters of the Stars, Wings, and Devils. The rosters of good upstanding guys who played for love of the game and less for money are long gone now.
I’ll begin my explanation with ripping on my own team, the Anaheim Ducks. How could Brian Burke ever rationalize signing Todd Bertuzzi to such a long, expensive contract? He was a liability from the get-go. Bertuzzi no longer is worth $4 million, and I doubt he ever will be again. But, that is only part of the argument here—the brunt of this is rooted in the players who play for money.
My fight lies with Marian Hossa, and those like him. Many in Pittsburgh will agree that one day we are hearing he would pick “winning over money,” but man did he hitch a ride to Hockeytown fast. True, he took the winning and money route, but it was major back-stabbing to Pittsburgh. If he didn’t like the city, or fans, or team, say it! They wouldn’t care as much as being lied about.
Wade Redden, you have been terrible lately, yet you still expect large amounts to end up in your coffer? So, of course you go to the Rangers, who will fork over cash to any guy who thinks he’s worth it.
The Rangers have a great team, and it would really sadden me for them to not do well, and you to demand a trade or something stupid, but anything is possible with you. I like your play as a younger guy, but lately, you’re in the same boat as Hossa, a money grubbing wuss!
Mats Sundin, I gave you a lot of credit for being an upstanding guy and all with the Leafs, but after having so many teams tossing you contracts, you ignored them. It’s like your going for broke of a hockey team. I’m very sure I’m jumping the gun here, but just bear in mind—it's about the game, not the money. The players above you have forgotten that.
Most of my anger lies with Marian Hossa, and the fact he is as highly paid as Nick Lidstrom, but hasn’t even proven himself as a steady contributor for Detroit. It's sort of stupid on Detroit’s part, but hey, do with your money as you wish.
It seems to me, from my former hockey days, that too many in the NHL only care about the paycheck, and not the game. An NHL team could pay me $100,000 a year and I'd be happy, and this is considering I was that talented.
Talent shouldn’t dictate the entire salary. Why not pay a guy more for being loyal to the team and being a good role model along with on ice performance? Andy McDonald, a favorite example of mine, was a loyal, hard working, goal scoring, undrafted Duck who gets $3.3 million. True, he is no Wayne Gretzky, but I’d take him on my team any day over a punk like Hossa.
Bottom line—the lockout solved nothing! Fix the salary issues Bettman, before I invest in becoming an AHL fan. It’s not Brian Burke’s fault, or Lowe’s in Edmonton. It’s yours! Hockey is a business; GM’s are forced to pay some players insane amounts in the name of winning.
So Mr. Bettman, please do your job, and end this money grubbing insanity and let it be about hockey again.
To Marian Hossa, keep your head up, pretty boy, that expensive face of yours could get a nice Penguin elbow come fall.