The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/02/13 at 03:22 AM ET
I'm putting this in TMR because it's a late-night ramble:
Because the Toronto Star's Damien Cox gets a little esoteric in suggesting that, "Socialism is alive and well among NHL brotherhood," so will I: the Czech Republic has a fine history of protest literature, to the point that one can make valid arguments as to whether Vaclav Havel was a better president or playwright, and he was inspired by the "Prague Spring" movement in 1968 (cue Jaromir Jagr's jersey number) and the failed attempts by Alexander Dubcek to give socialism a "human face."
The old joke--given that the term "socialism" was used interchangeably with Soviet-style totalitarian communism--was that, "Socialism only has one face: the one you wipe your behind with."
In light of the NHL's attempts to "normalize" wages by instituting a salary cap, as well as the fact that so many of the league's brightest talents take less than the per-player cap maximum (20% of the salary cap during a given year)--including Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who signed identical 4-year, $28 million contracts on Friday--the Toronto Star's Cox wonders if the NHL has in fact given birth to a crop of incredibly well-paid socialists:
When there was no cap before 2005, superstar players simply demanded as much as the market would bear. In 2002, Mats Sundin was making $9 million a season for the Leafs. A decade later, only five NHL players (Shea Weber, Crosby, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Eric Staal) are making a higher salary this season than Sundin was making over a decade ago.
That same season, 2002-03, Jaromir Jagr was making $11.4 million. Peter Forsberg was making $9.5 million, set to jump to $11 million the following season. The average NHL payroll that season was about $41 million, but the stars were taking bigger chunks.
None of this is good or bad. The cap system guarantees the players a certain percentage of revenues, and it’s just a question how that amount of money is divvied up among the players. Maybe it will change; certainly you can imagine if the Islanders want to keep Tomas Vanek, they might have to go north of $10 million.
From this perspective, the NHL structure is markedly different than the NBA, which has a “soft” cap. About 20-25 players — including Rudy Gay of the Raptors — take the maximum contract allowable.
That’s very different economic behaviour than the NHL. And a larger percentage of NBA players are then paid much, much less so the big boys can get their money.
So a lot of second- and third-tier NHL players are benefiting because the very best players in the world take less.
Who knew superstar hockey players were socialists at heart?
Continued, and you can take his comments for what you will. It's kind of hard to argue that there's any socialism in a $3.3+ billion industry, but one could very well argue that "guild socialism" may apply to the types of decisions made by players who want to show that they can shape their teams rosters in a positive way while taking more than decent care of their personal bottom lines. There IS some sort of "collectivism" going on, even if it is to better one's competitive bottom line, and that's not political--it's human.
And I suppose this will come my way, so no, I'm not a socialist--I'm the son of a Detroit probation officer who has no party affiliation (I'm actually a registered independent and am something of a non-partisan centrist), but will be voting as usual on Tuesday, even though there's only one candidate for mayor--but I did spend the vast majority of my college career attempting to earn an English Language and Literature degree without having to read "the classics" or books written by dead white Englishmen and Americans, so I read all sorts of neat stuff from around the world instead. I can't quote Proust, and I think that Moby Dick is terrible, but we can chat about Victor Pelevin any time.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.