The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/30/12 at 06:41 PM ET
For discussion's sake thanks to a panic attack (still working on that stupid-ass depressive episode thing):
- My pal Courtney wouldn't be happy if I chose to omit this: Perani's Hockey World gave all but last-second notice that Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson will be signing autographs from 12-1 tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 1st, at Perani's Livonia location;
- Thank you for all your replies to yesterday's entry. Yes, for those of you who dug into me for my pro-NHLPA bias, I am the fat, bald, moustachioed straight male version of Rachel Maddow when it comes to NHL-NHLPA relations, and TMR is the CNBC of hockey blogs in terms of its openly pro-player bias. The owners have every right to make money and be filthy stinking rich. Hell, I don't know about you, but I'm frickin' desperate to go to Joe Louis Arena and happily give someone money to the Wings players be allowed to skate on that Al Sobotka's ice...
But it's the owners that have locked the players, their business partners and the fans out three times, it's Gary Bettman who represents the Board of Governors' interests, and during the last lockout, Bill Daly essentially wrote what was the CBA to end all CBA's with Ted Saskin nodding along. Eight years later, it's the owners who are asking the players to give for the "good of the game" again, and it's the owners who are going to sacrifice yet another season because their own dream CBA wasn't idiot-proofed enough to save 30 very competitive businesses from out-spending each other into a world where a 60-point-scorer is no longer as overpaid as Robert Lang was at $4 million in 05-06, but instead, can earn $7 or $8 million, mostly because smaller-market teams chose to grossly inflate players' "market values" and asking prices through rash free agency and/or "second contract" decisions.
The NHL could have taken the sensible route and played through negotiations, ensuring that they, their business partners, their sponsors, broadcasters and the communities in which they play could continue to "graze at the owners' ranches," and instead, the Board chose to endorse a lockout as a matter-of-course, and on December 5th, you can bet the vote to scuttle yet another season for the sake of "retrenching" will be 30-to-zip in favor of slapping another "Season Not Played" on the Stanley Cup. The sides should be playing hockey right now.
Instead, the owners chose to go the nuclear route, and they are going to encourage Bettman to nuke the village in order to save it for the second time in eight years. The players want to defend their livelihoods, and while they've been pretty bloody intransigent at times, I would be if I was trying to defend my living, too.
I don't resent the owners' billions nor the players' millions, and in an ideal NHL world, everybody is making tons and tons of money because fans like you and me are freely spending our discretionary incomes to follow the teams we cheer for. I do resent the concept that the owners are going to scuttle the 2012-2013 season because a CBA they sacrificed a previous season to attain isn't good enough for them, and I especially resent that concept because the owners' CBA proposals do little to nothing to address the fundamental inequities plaguing their current 30-team business model.
It's the NHLPA's proposals that have pushed more revenue-sharing and more aggressive attempts to stabilize the struggling franchises that drag the league's bottom line down, and in the business of professional sports, I believe that some of us are forgetting that in any large sports league, the general rule of economic thumb--the Forbes report's only partial understanding of the large amount of Hockey-Related Revenue that NHL teams can claim as outside the HRR pie included--is that about 8-12 teams rake in dough, a third of the league barely gets by, and even in every league where payrolls aren't subsidized via TV deals as they are in the NFL, ten teams struggle to get by, at least on a revenues-vs-expenditures basis.
I'd love for each and every of the league's 30 teams to make tons of money, but that's not realistic, and this, "Well, the owners take all the risk, they have the intrinsic right to make money" line works on Pawn Stars, but not in the real world of professional sports. I wish it did, because I don't want Panthers, Coyotes, Hurricanes, Ducks, Islanders, Blue Jackets, Predators or Devils fans to continually face the, "Your team doesn't make money equals you don't 'deserve' a team, because your level of support is clearly the problem" line, because that's BS. Sometimes businesses are going to struggle due to their locations, at least if they're not winning all the damn time and making playoff runs, and there are cases in which poor management and poor records equal both fan and corporate malaise that's placed many teams in a no-win-no-profit situation for extended periods of time.
What the last CBA was supposed to do was slap a giant band-aid on those operating losses by ensuring that teams' equitable values would increase on a yearly basis, and the recession screwed that "every year = your franchise's bank value increases by 5-10%, even if you're bleeding money" equation up. Now it seems as if the Phoenix Coyotes' former operating structure expects the players to repay them for their expenses, for starters.
- Regarding this, "Hey, who could it hurt if the owners and players meet absent everybody else in the room" question? Ted Lindsay may believe that the players shouldn't be venting their anger at Gary Bettman, but Ted Lindsay also called Jack Adams "Mr. Adams" after Adams banished Lindsay to Chicago for trying to start a players' association. Any player who dares to ask the owners what the *#$%@& they're doing and why they're screwing over so many people, or why the owners are reneging on their valid legal contracts they chose to sign players to, essentially sticking their hands into the pockets of the moneymaking "talent" who draw fans to watch the talent play on the owners' "stages" at ticket prices that have little to nothing to do with teams' on-ice records or off-ice expenditures, well...These players might very well expect that if they piss off their owners enough, or they say the "wrong thing," men with roots in the communities which they currently represent and earning good money from owners they don't necessarily dislikeon an individual-vs-individual basis, but instead a collective-vs-collective one, might find themselves shipped to the NHL's Siberias when play resumes.
That's why labor unions and negotiating representatives who speak on the owners' collective and individual behalves exist. Because a player could irrevocably damage his relationship with the man who employs him if he speaks his mind, and as Jimmy Devellano rather expertly intentionally stated, the owners may have more to lose than they think if they really are as stuck in 60's and 70's mentalities regarding their "cattle" serving as little more than skating pieces of prime, exploitable beef.
All of a sudden, it might turn out that the most player-friendly owners, when you get 'em in a room and talk to them in private--while engaged in an out-and-out collective bargaining war, aren't so friendly after all, and it's entirely possible that some star players might be calling their agents to ask for a trade to Siberia once this is all over, too.
That Bettman, Daly and the Board and the Fehr brothers and the NHLPA can't or won't exchange anything more than "position statements"--and that's all both sides' CBA proposals have consisted of, "ways of seeing the world" and the league's business models as opposed to any sort of platforms upon which to negotiate anything other than tersely-worded press releases--regrettably seems to speak of the true enmity that both sides harbor toward each other, and if I'm as outspoken as Ian White, Niklas Kronwall or Henrik Zetterberg, but love playing in Detroit as much as those gents do, I might not want to know what Mike Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano really think about me when it comes down to dollars and cents.
It's a bad idea all around.
- And for those of you who brought the health issues that are preventing me from blogging regularly at present into the mix while debunking my takes in yesterday's entry? I am not a "victim" of depression or anxiety just because they're illnesses that affect me on a practically crippling basis. They are my illnesses, and while I try to let you know what's up when I'm not blogging, they're not only my business: they're something I expect absolutely zero sympathy for or understanding of.
I do not feel sorry for myself, nor do I expect you to give two shits about my mental health. I do not feel like a "victim" of an illness that my lack of access to some solid cognitive behavioral therapy has resulted in very genuinely painful responses: the genetic deck was stacked against me, and I happened to inherit illnesses that I've been battling for my whole life, but that's just the way things are. So many people battle chronic illnesses that it's nuts, and after about five minutes, most of us realize that we've got no right to think that we're somehow entitled to hissy fits or, "My boo boo is worse than yours" trawls for sympathy.
The only reason I talk openly about this stuff is because I know some of you are in similar boats, and I don't want anyone to feel stigmatized about seeking help for their illnesses.
Aside from being incredibly frustrated that I'm not blogging for you on a daily basis because this stupid equivalent of a "fever" isn't breaking despite my best efforts, things are what they are. I don't expect you to feel sorry for me or sympathetic toward me in any way, shape or form, because this is just life, and as crappy as things can be, hey, I've got a roof over my head, heat, food, friends and family members who care, access to a fantastic case manager and basis psychological care (and medication) through the community mental health system, and, when I'm able, a job that seems to be of use to other people. That's enough.
I'm no victim; I'm just a person who deals with some chronic health issues that happen to suck, and I'm sorry they've limited my ability to work on a full-time basis. I've probably talked about it far too regularly and am probably going into too much detail now...
But, honestly, and seriously, if you're gonna tear into me and tell me I'm an asshat--and it's my job to deal with your critisim, including any slinging of mud you throw into the equation--I would appreciate it if you called me crazy for what I'm saying as opposed to calling me crazy because of the illnesses I deal with.
That being said, if you choose to add that kind of criticism to the equation, I can't and won't stop you from doing so (and I can take it, i'm a big boy here, and again, taking just about any insult you sling my way with a smile is my job), but from now on, please understand that it's highly possible that I'll tell you to go *#$%@& yourself if you think that it's "the crazy" that's the only reason that your disagreement with me = me being an *#$%@&.
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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.