The Malik Report
Red Wings sound the players line before departing for NHLPA meetings; Holland to attend BoG meetings
by George Malik on 09/12/12 at 01:15 PM ET
Updated 3x at 2:14 PM: I know that we're talking about billionaires versus millionaires, arguing over how to divvy up $3.3 billion dollars of fans' money, but as the NHL prepares to announce that its Board of Governors has voted to lock out the players at a presser scheduled for 3:30 PM EDT on Thursday, and over half the Red Wings' players will later make comments to the media when 300 or more NHLPA members meet not too far from the Crowne Plaza Times Square (players will be at the Mariott)...
But the players are the ones who are essentially being told, "I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further" despite the fact that the NHL and one Bill Daly essentially authored the current CBA by themselves (at least once Bob Goodenow left the room), so I for one understand where the Red Wings' presumptive captain-to-be is coming from when he spoke to the Free Press's Helene St. James about his take on what's to come:
"Everyone is hurting if there's going to be a lockout," Zetterberg said. "Us players really know that. A lot of us went through it in '04. And it's not just the players that are hurting -- the fans, everyone around the buildings, all the businesses that are around hockey, is going to hurt. That's what us, as a union, really tried to have not happen. We're really trying to solve the problem and find a fair deal."
Note to Wings players, btw: tell fans where you're practicing, at least occasionally. Charge $5. Donate to charity. Goodwill and all.
Anyway, Ian White agrees with Zetterberg, and he told St. James that the players are much more resolute about the concept that a second owners' "bailout" over the course of eight years makes no sense if the league isn't going to address the disparities between teams that stand to profit way, way more from lower payroll costs--like the Wings--and those that won't profit regardless of how low salaries go:
White said there's far more cohesiveness among players this time around, compared with 2004. "Without question. Guys are all on the same page. Pretty much everyone across the board is informed. The last one was pretty much the polar opposite. No one really knew what was going on. Things were going on behind people's backs and stuff. It's a lot different this time around."
Asked why, White credited executive director Donald Fehr. "Better leadership is probably the best thing," White said. "Players are thinking collectively. We kind of got taken advantage of a little bit last time, just because we weren't as tight as we are now, we weren't as informed. The deal worked out not too bad in the end, but initially, it looked like it was real bad for the players, and I think that was because we weren't on the same page."
The union has estimated that 250-300 players will be in New York.
"A bunch of us are going to show we're united, that we're all going to stick together through thick and thin," White said. "If we get a resolution, that would be the best thing -- if not in the next few days, hopefully, real soon."
At this point, I'd like to point out that as much as I adore Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, Ken Holland and the Wings organization, and as much as I think it sucks that the game-night employees and team staff will be hurt the most by this lockout, with average restauranteurs, waitstaff, hotels and memorabilia salespeople to follow...
I find it utterly ridiculous that a team whose profits will doubtlessly ensure that the salary cap continues to rise in an "inflationary spiral" over the course of the next CBA is so willing to be a good citizen that Holland or whoever represents the Wings at tomorrow's Board of Governors meeting will rubber-stamp a second lockout in eighty ears and a third under Gary Bettman's reign.
Even with this, as noted by RedWingsFeed, in the front of my thoughts:
I don't know about you, but I'm one conflicted Wings fan today, and will remain one throughout the lockout.
Anyway, the Wings' players reiterated their comments to the Macoimb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
And, well, I can only shake my head knowing who will be voting to lock the players he's so loyal to and fair with out, and agree with Ian White, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
General manager Ken Holland is representing the Wings at a Board of Governors meeting Thursday, during which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will get the OK to lock out the players if there's no CBA in place. The league locked out players the entire 2004-05 season.
"Another extended lockout would be terrible for the fans; it's just going to be a slap in the face," defenseman Ian White said. "They responded unbelievably to the last one in record numbers (in attendance), and this time they'd be really hurt. You hate to see that. The players genuinely care about the fans. We're fans, as well."
The players insist they are much more united this time around compared to 2004.
Donald Fehr is the NHLPA director this time. There are no factions among players, the Red Wings say, as there were under Bob Goodenow in the last CBA negotiation.
"That has a lot to do with the information guys got this summer," Zetterberg said. "Everyone is real informed. In 2004, you didn't know what was going on. This time, as soon as there is a meeting or something happens, it's on our apps or e-mails. Everyone is on the same page. Just having 250 guys together today is real proof of that."
It might be a long war, Hank. "Us fans " are hoping for the best as well, but the league's track record is pretty bloody poor.
That Winter Classic logo the Wings revealed two weeks ago should have had an asterisk attached to it, stating, "If Necessary (and by the way, Ticketmaster won't refund those $30-40 fees per ticket, ha ha)."
In the interim, again, I'm all ears as to whether you'd like to hold a gathering at the Joe to stand up for the average team and rink employees who will get screwed, or whether you'd be willing to meet up in New York or Toronto to protest. Even if we can only be buzzing flies whose opinions the league doesn't care about, that buzz can and should be persistent, annoying, and loud.
Update: Here's the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's take:
“Guys are all on the same page, everyone across the board’s informed,” Ian White said Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena after another informal skate. “The last one was pretty much the polar opposite, nobody knew what was going on. Things were going on behind people’s backs. It’s a lot different this time around.”
“I think that has a lot to do with all the information we got this summer,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Everyone was really informed. Guys over in Europe, it was a huge difference from ’04. Back in ’04, you really didn’t know what was going on, except what you were reading in the papers. This time around, as soon as we have a meeting or something happens, we have it on our emails later that afternoon. We all know, a lot more guys are on the conference calls, so we can spread the message around really good. Everyone is on the same page. Just having 250 guys going there today is proof of that.”
There were many fractions in the union the last time around that cost the league the entire 2004-05 season.
“I couldn’t even compare it to last time,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I know I was younger at the time and I didn’t have any clue what was going on. And I think a lot of the younger guys felt the older guys would just take care of things, they’ll make a good deal. Now it feels like a lot of the younger guys want to be a part of this and want to be involved. I think that’s great seeing them at these meeting, on the conference calls wanting to make their voice heard.”
Update #2: Here's more from Pleiness:
Quick quote from Wings defenseman Ian White: “I’m big-time worried. If we go through another extended lockout, it’s terrible for the fans. It’s just going to slap them in the face. They responded unbelievable to the last one. They came back in record numbers. This time they’d be really, really hurt. You hate to see that. The players genuinely care about the fans. We’re always doing interactive things with them. We’re fans as well. It definitely hurts the players, it seems, a lot more than it’s going to hurt the owners, because they’re the ones who are locking us out.”
Update #3: The Wings' players spoke to MLive's Ansar Khan as well, and Ian White told Khan that he does not expect you or I to sympathize with his plight:
“Why would there be any sympathy for us, or for them (owners)?'' White said. “We just want our fair share. We're the workforce and we're the product. Maybe we should get two-thirds of the pie. ... We just want a fair piece and don't want to get taken advantage of.''
Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, who is on the NHLPA's negotiating committee, is cognizant of the far-reaching implications of a lockout.
“Everyone is hurting if there is going to be a lockout,'' Zetterberg said. “A lot of us went through it in '04. It's not just players that are hurting, it's fans, everyone in the building, all the businesses around hockey are going to hurt. As a union … we're really trying to solve the problem and find a fair deal.''
Many wonder why there has to be a labor dispute at a time when the game has never been more prosperous.
“There's no doubt that hockey is in a good place as of right now,'' Red Wings player representative Niklas Kronwall said. “Fans are coming to the games and we're growing revenues every year. We have the greatest fans. We just have to make sure not to mess it up too bad for them to walk away from it.''
“There's still a few more days to work on this, so hopefully we can get a deal done sooner rather than later,'' Kronwall said.
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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.